“Babylon system is the vampire
Suckin’ the children day by day
de Babylon system is the vampire, falling empire
Suckin’ the blood of the sufferers
Building church and university
Deceiving the people continually
Tell the children the truth
Tell the children the truth right now.”
IN the Ventures New English Syllabus Grade Six textbook published by College Press, less than a page is set aside to tell the children about the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now the African Union (AU).
The limited space devoted to this very important topic is taken up with details about when it was formed, and areas member states have agreed to co-operate on.
It is also mentioned that the organisation was formed so that African countries could help each other to gain independence.
But what is astonishing is the empty calabash; the passage does not say independence from who or what the whole issue is about.
How did ‘un-independence’ come about?
It does not say.
How did African countries become ‘un-independent’, or is this a natural state, that you’re ‘un-independent’ in the first place, and after some time you just fight and become independent.
Fight who or what or why in order to become independent?
This question is left to vex the mind of the child.
This is the same empty calabash approach which this same book used to present the issue of our country’s independence, purporting that our people just fought for independence for no apparent reason; the question fight who or what and why was never addressed.
So the approach used in this book is quite consistently protective of the colonisers.
Once again, imperialism is safe, it is not attacked.
What is the rationale for talking about the AU without talking about how Western Europeans got together and decided to parcel out Africa in order to exploit its riches for their benefit to the exclusion of the Africans?
How wonderfully liberating it would be for our children to know and understand that they are heirs to a very rich continent, and that because of these riches they have been victims of a vicious racist colonial system hence the poverty in which most of them are steeped and that as a result Africans got together and decided to chase the Europeans away so that they the Africans could once more rule themselves and be in charge of their great wealth and benefit from it themselves.
When African children are born on this continent, they are special; they have to know who they are, what is happening around them.
They have to have a correct perspective about themselves and their circumstances. It is not normal to be so richly endowed with incredible resources and to still be so poor, they know that something is very seriously wrong for this to be so, and when this anomaly is not explained or discussed at all, they don’t make it.
It is not normal to be so rich in gold and not to be able to afford a gold wedding ring, or gold earrings, or a gold watch, bracelet, necklace; to grow coffee and tea, and never to taste the best of teas or coffees.
So when we deny them the truth about what happened for them to be in that predicament, when education is obscurantist, and the children cannot decipher why what, then they become ‘no longer at ease,’ and it does not work, they are disempowered and this sustains the predator’s hold on them.
Who has the right to rob our children of their ‘sanity’ by denying them that which makes them who they are?
No one under the sun.
It is an alienable right and, as it is not mandatory for anyone to write for our children, no-one is exonerated for befuddling their minds.
It is essential to remember that this right, they were robbed of by the British colonisers, and it was only reinstated through the blood of thousands of Zimbabweans who willingly laid down their lives for the freedom of their fellow Zimbabweans, for their beloved beautiful Zimbabwe.
The issue is therefore not negotiable.
Paulo Freire, the Brazilian education liberationist, underlined that the oppressed cry out:
“I want to learn to read and write so that I can stop being the shadow of other people, no longer part of the mass but one of the people.”
Freire was not talking about technical literacy, he was talking of literacy as a means of opening someone’s faculties, to that they have correct cognisance of their reality, so that they can see and comprehend their chains and learn how to remove them, and so that they are enabled to construct a new reality in which they never can be chained again.
In Zimbabwe, we have a very high literacy rate.
To what extent have we educated or do we educate such that the learners are no longer the shadows of other people, so that they are no longer part of the mass, but come into their own?
Why write such a short and deficient passage about the AU, and yet allocate more space for a story about a Mr and Mrs Logan who live in an industrial city in England.
It would seem our children have already learned all they can about Zimbabwe and the lives lived in its ten provinces; about our relatives in Southern Africa; about the whole of Africa; the Third World; now that we are tasking them to spend their time learning about a British family.
Already so at home with the British and their life style, once again?
How soon others forget!
The story about Mr and Mrs Logan is accompanied by a picture of their house.
It includes details about the plan of the house, but the book does not include a picture of the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa.
How shall we sing our song in a strange land?
How shall our children sing their song in a strange land?
Dr Mahamba is a war veteran and holds a PhD from Havard University. She is currently doing consultancy work.