Unpacking the concept of ‘mind-set’


I WANT to begin by welcoming the main stakeholders of this column, school children, back to school.
You are the future of Zimbabwe and so you really need to brace up for the year’s challenges.
Some of you may not have seen last week’s instalment, but I am sure avid followers of my sermons did not miss the danger I alerted people to, that of thinking like someone else, and not like oneself.
There has been an overwhelming response from the different quarters of the public confirming the observations.
In particular I wish to pay tribute to the acknowledgement registered by my brother Nathaniel Manheru in his Herald column.
I was humbled by the elucidation and indeed by the mere fact of his recognition of the currency as well as the urgency of addressing intellectual and ideological prostitution in our motherland and Africa as a whole.
I am tempted to simplify my philosophical register in the previous article for the sake of our children who are back at school.
And to do that I wish to remind schoolchildren of the need for self-introspection in whatever they do.
For instance before you go to school, ask yourself what school is.
It is an institution that we have taken for granted for a long time, as something to be attended.
That mentality of going to school because it is routinely accepted is actually part of a borrowed mind-set.
It arises from a poor understanding of what schooling, let alone education is.
I need to clear this to aid your introspection.
School is not physical infrastructure.
It is not a building or groups of buildings.
A school by African standards is not some fixed place by some fixed address and fixed or closed time.
Education cannot be confined to any walls.
Learning takes place in many walls and platforms.
An understanding of education tells you the process begins at inception.
If you are African, then the first thing that defines you is the realisation that you are a product not just human seed but African seed.
You cannot run away from this painful truth.
It is the genesis of true consciousness.
You are African first before you become anything else; and the first walls you inhabited and from which you got your first instruction are those of your mother. You were connected to her by the umbilical cord.
If you did not know the meaning of mother, it is essentially to create, to teach and to nurture.
That is what constitutes the joys of motherhood, the joy of passing on human values to succeeding generations.
Motherhood is everyone’s duty.
It is not the preserve of women alone especially as soon as you are ushered into the larger womb of society by birth, one of the many rites of passage.
To mother is to bequeath the correct mind-set in order to maintain species-specificity.
To this end, the school as you know it today is just a part of the continuum of lifelong learning.
If you find the so-called school teaching you what your mother does not approve, then you know that it is giving you the wrong mindset.
What you learnt in the womb, in your mother’s back, on her laps, from your siblings, the tetes, sekurus and mbuyas, from the formal schooling system, the polytechnics, universities, from the media and indeed from the churches, should essentially be consistent and mutually inclusive and reinforcing.
If you miss that consistency, then you know dissonance is coming from somewhere.
And when you do curriculum reviews you then target these sources of dissonance.
Only then can you prevent the structural defects brought about by borrowed mindsets
In essence, education takes place in the body, in the heart and in the mind. These are the three fundamental parts of munhu.
If your body is trained to produce for the sustenance of the human organism, then you have satisfied only a third of munhu.
You need to satisfy second and third thirds; namely, the spirit which is the moral trajectory of munhu and, of course, the intellectual faculty.
These domains are commonly known as the psycho-motor, affective and cognitive faculties.
These also constitute the material, spiritual and intellectual aspects of munhu. Of these the most important is the cognitive for the simple reason that it controls and protects or even deforms the rest.
When we talk about mindset we are essentially referring to the constitution of the cognitive domain.
We are therefore saying in our introspections: what are we learning?
Whose knowledge is it?
How does it improve our lot as Zimbabweans or Africans?
In other words vanhu are the main stakeholders of any educational undertaking. We learn not for ourselves alone, but principally for the advancement of humanity.
If you have not yet factored vanhu (your people) in the matrix of all your educational endeavours, then you are still operating with a borrowed mindset.
Our African languages are awash with such instructive epithets.
Umuntu ngumuntu ngavantu is the overarching principle.
Then you have such proverbs as chirere chizokurerawo, chara chimwe hachitswanyi inda, rume rimwe harikombi churu, chawawana idya nehama mutorwa ane hanganwa etc.
Our detractors too teach well when they say ‘blood is thicker than water’.
All these point towards the cooperative and politeness principles. Ndirwo rupawo rwevanhu vatema: cooperation and humility.
That is what makes us closer to Mwari than any other race.
The challenge to our young people is: to what extent do you identify with the mind-set of your own people?


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