Going to school in the UK after living in Africa fundamentally transformed me, I learned that the lecturer was not a god. They were people who were trying to make a case to you in class and encouraged you to challenge their hypothesis. In Nigeria, we were not taught that way.
Challenging a lecturer in Nigeria meant that you were doomed. We not only brought cultural pedagogy into our educational institutions, we brought feudalism along with it as well. The teacher who asks for sex or money to give marks is another feudal lord.
Feudalism was not the best part of our larger local culture. Community was the engine that sustained us. Feudal lords may be praised and idolized….Oduduwa….Usman Dan Fodio etc… but it was a resilient community structure that made us survive their dominance.
The Yorubas developed the Ogboni society and others to keep the monarchy in check but it had to be secret and its ways it developed of keeping the monarchy in check secret for it to survive and be resilient against those monarchies.
I read a book on West African secret societies while in school and the researcher was most intrigued by the Ogboni society. He claimed that they had found a poison that they could administer and will kill a person on the exact day they say it would. A major scientific secret.
These secrets in Africa may never be discovered as they are still being hidden to protect the remaining fabric of our culture. Problem is that, in hiding them, they help perpetuate the worst parts of those cultures. The worst parts are those that bring conflict with new ways.
Imagine knowing what that poison is that could lie in the body and remain dormant for years until it is activated. Imagine what it means for understanding human physiology and maybe help cure disease?
Wande Abimbola was the only Nigerian Professor I know who took time to explain Ifa Divination and I began to see its association with Mathematics and statistical probability. Most other professors are busy looking for sex.
There are other parts of building a resilient community that are not shrouded in secrecy. The Igbo trader’s Imu Ahia for instance. It is the most comprehensive and well thought out entrepreneurship play that I have seen. Imu Ahia had elements of “UBI” in it already.
I recently did a series of tweets on how I now changed my thinking on Universal Basic Income after I realized that you can’t be innovative on an empty stomach. I didn’t realize that our societies had implemented this in some form for centuries. We always helped ourselves.
Our safety nets had to exist because we had lived through a lot of uncertainty then as well. We have the same level of uncertainty now but the community safety nets have been destroyed. I believe solving for a better future will need understanding secrets of our past.
Maybe we need to incorporate the Ogboni (or a variant) back into our political structure or Imu Ahia into business curriculum and Ubuntu into technology as Mark Shuttleworth has done. I think I now know the name to give a new product that I am considering.
Another thing. Fraternities in schools are open in America but forced into hiding in Nigeria. Instead of fixing the feudal problems that plagued them, we banned them. I believe that open fraternities/sororities in schools would have helped us and checked our feudal lecturers.
My family members for centuries “forbid” cocoyam. I only recently understood why. I have a cocoyam allergy.
My first philosophy lecturer in UNIBEN was a rebel Edo Prince. Prof Iro-Eweka. He made me question everything and I became an atheist for 2 years. It was in that period of discovery that I read the book on West African Secret Societies. It was the period I first started to learn
Professor Iro-Eweka came from probably one of the oldest and most traditional institutions on Earth which is the Edo monarchy. There was something he learned being born into it that made him think differently and get almost half a dozen PhDs. Mysteries he needed to understand.
Prof also understood the role of dogma in simplifying human existence. He understood why absolute faith was sometimes necessary but it didn’t mean we should not be curious about the basis of our faith. Two years later, my curiosity led me back to faith. I appreciated complexity.
I appreciated my weakness and my role in the cosmos. My role was to keep understanding and pushing boundaries of knowledge. Infinity cannot be comprehended because it is incomprehensible by the finite unless we understand that we are also infinite.
Yesterday, I realized that the common thing we all share and which does not really change is “Time”. Time passes through all of us. We do not pass through time.
CREDITS: This Thread was shared by Victor Asemota on Twitter. You can follow him via @asemota