By David G Maillu
In her play The Lion of Egerton Castle, the good lady with a razor-blade sharp intellect and the one who is in focus here, talks about the Whiteman’s sweet tooth for tea taken over watching sunsets in Africa. The Blackman has neither taste for watching sunsets or clouds, whether some of the clouds, in Whiteman’s taste, silver lining, whatever value may be held in silver stuff. Of course, it’s not that there aren’t sunsets, sunrises and clouds in Africa. However, the problem is that taking tea over watching sunsets is an extraordinary luxury to the Blackman. But then, here is the catch, the Whiteman would blame the Blackman for culture of inviting your special friend and killing a whole goat in order for your friend to eat the liver and mutura? It becomes an outrageous luxury if when the victim animal is a bull.
Is it a matter of cultural interpretations? If so then, within that cultural interpretation, someone must tell me why this country is being drowned by the storm of poverty and unemployment. Since time immemorial, unemployment did not exist in traditional Africa; and schools, colleges and universities did not exist too. Is it modernity is creation of material and spiritual poverty?
We now live in the age of schools, colleges and universities. Can anyone explain to me why, at least, someone who has spent eight years of being educated – one year, two years, three years up to eight years, should come out of that training institution only to add to the other number of millions of unemployed educated people? How did traditional Africa fight against unemployment?
Somewhere something does not add up with the present educational system. What is the value of the present education? To be educated for what? Or have we been caught up in the luxury of sitting somewhere drinking teas and watching sunsets? By any chance, could the failing educational system be using wrong hypothesis to address an African problem?
This is the story of the millions of Standard Eight graduates who are unemployed wasting away! The millions of High School graduates unemployed wasting away, added to the hundred-thousands of University graduates unemployed wasting away yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Any hope? Is the hope in political reconstructions? Is the answer in democratic reforms and government devolution?
Whatever it is and may be, this education system is a culture of developing empires of poverty. We are very wealthy in industrialization of poverty. We are powerful manufacturers of poverty for local consumption and export. It begins from the bottom line of the eight-year-school graduate who can’t use his or her hard earned education to find a job or to employ himself/herself. Have we been thrown into the forest of misdirected values and in the wilderness of wasting away human intellectual resources? Something somewhere has intellectually colonized us.
Salvation can only come out of returning to the drawing table with our intellectual equipment to revolutionize our mindsets through intellectual industrialization and devolution. How? Just the other day in the countryside I asked my Standard Eight nephew to tell me the names of the present Presidents of Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Ethiopia were. He said, “I don’t know.” I asked him do you know who “Chinua Achebe is?” He cried “Yes.” I asked him, “Do you know who Shakespeare is?” He cried, “Yes!” I asked him, “Do you know who Michael Jackson is?” He cried, “Yes!”
There is an extraordinary and dynamic short-story in Elizabeth’s Seasons of the Jacarandas called “Evelyn”which can pass for a whole institution of knowledge and revelation about falling in love, marrying and thereafter survival in the industry of marital relations. It educated much more than what the Kenyan government can do.
Elizabeth’s books, like Chinua Achebe’s and Shakespeare’s books, live above tribal lines. They live above racism. They respect neither gender no colonial boundaries. Like Michael Jackson’s music, they respect no social status. Like natural water, they are ageless. Like Elimu Njau’s paintings, they respect neither religion nor intellectual status.
The writer and the artist, working religiously, have and should have both the knife and the yam in their hands to cut the treasures of our traditional values and feed us with pieces of self-rediscovery. They should reveal and repair where things started going wrong so that today, in this age, we should be so industrious in manufacturing educated but helpless persons sold to gods of unemployment and worthlessness.
Back to the drawing board armed with creative minds to create a new mission of salvation. Forget about governments. Our governments are part of the problem and our failure in that mission will only lead us not only to national but to the self-destruction of our race.
Sister, Professor Elizabeth Orchardson-Mazurui, I salute your goddess!
Paa-ya-Paa, October, 25, 2014