This is an excerpt from my latest work set to hit the social market end of February 2013 as part of my Child Protection Audio Library comprising of 12 Audio Programs on Child protection both from Legal and Social perspectives. Today I share with you the 21st Human and Social Threats YOU must KNOW, PREVENT & AVOID IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD. I await your comments.
21. Black Skin, White Masks Custodians: These ones are in the words of Franz Fanon best described as Black Skin, White Masks as they are either not in touch with their cultural heritage or have lost total touch with same. These ones are not aware of their cultural source, not to talk of helping their children to understand same. They suffer from what has been tagged colonial mentality from generation to generation. Chancellor Williams shared as the opening remark of his book, Destruction of Black Civilization: ‘What became of the Black people of Sumer the traveller asked the old man, for ancient records show that the people of Sumer were Black. What happened to them? “Ah,” the old man sighed, “they lost their history, so they died.’ I dare ask, if a people, who forget their history die, how much more people, who never knew their history?
These ones have masked themselves in the culture of the western world, which once colonised us. They confuse civilisation with a total surrender of their cultural heritage to another culture, which has been hyped to be superior. Franz Fanon’s book, ‘Black Skin, White Masks,’ is said to explain the mentality of these ones as follows ‘In this study, Fanon uses psychoanalysis and psychoanalytical theory to explain the feelings of dependency and inadequacy that Black people experience in a White world. He speaks of the divided self-perception of the Black Subject who has lost his native cultural originality and embraced the culture of the mother country. As a result of the inferiority complex engendered in the mind of the Black Subject, he will try to appropriate and imitate the cultural code of the colonizer. The behaviour, Fanon argues, is even more evident in upwardly mobile and educated Black people who can afford to acquire status symbols’
To these ones are not interested in conforming to a status quo, which source and inspiration they do not understand or care to find out. They put more premium on status symbols than on finding the roots of their cultural identity.
It is evident in the values they promote and encourage their children to promote; it is palpable the way they dress and dress their children, above all is discernible from the language they speak and teach their children to speak. It is fine and even pleasing if their children speak and excel in the colonial masters language. It does not cause them any form of headache if their children cannot speak their own dialect. In fact they encourage him to speak more of the colonial masters’ language. In most cases they consider it a matter of irredeemable embarrassment if they or their children cannot speak with impeccable fluency the language of another man.
Dwelling more on the issue of language, these ones collaborate with their government and educational system to tie the destiny of their children to the sophistication of another man’s language instead of its use. Thus a child, who sits for 8 subjects in WAEC, passes 7 and fails English language cannot advance beyond secondary school education. Permit me to paraphrase the line of thought of Olakunle Soriyan on this matter thus: ‘in what language did the child, who passes 7 papers in WAEC (except English Language as a subject) write the subjects he passed? If he had written the subjects he passed in English Language, it therefore means, he has mastered English Language as a tool of communication. If his examiners are determined to stop him from furthering his education because he did not pass English Language as a subject, it means they do not only want him to communicate in English Language, they want him to be sophisticated in English Language. It therefore does not make sense that aforeign language, inherited from former colonial master should be regarded as the determinant factor of progress in one’s own country.’
In my opinion, I think this is too much a burden for the capacity development of the African Child. Many children today have lost their destiny and future to their lack of sophistication in English Language. It is important to note that language has been identified as a tool of cultural and national emancipation. Frantz Fanon made this point many years ago when he profoundly submitted as follows: ‘I ascribe a basic importance to the phenomenon of language. To speak means to be in a position to use certain syntax, to grasp the morphology of this or that language, but it means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilization… Speaking French means that one accepts, or is coerced into accepting, the collective consciousness of the French.’
With the way things are, I am persuaded that except steps are taken to correct the present aberration, most of our local dialects in Africa will go into sad extinction.
These ones do not understand the meaning and beauty of culture. Therefore they cannot teach their children. Their closest touch with culture is dressing, dancing and all. When they get their children to wear their native attire, they are not able to explain to the children, the values behind the dressing. When they get their children to dance to their native music, they are not able to explain to the child the values the music seeks to communicate. Even when the schools in which they have registered their children celebrate cultural day, they spend all the time on the costumes and dance that no time is spent to discuss the values, which the culture they try to promote seek to communicate.
These ones do not understand that culture is identified by values. It is the values, which a people hold very dear that is called their culture. A people’s culture or values are expressed by their dressing, music, religion and the rest of it. For example, when a Yoruba man wears Agbada, he has two messages for you. The first is the primary and obvious message that he is affluent and approves moderate display of same. The second message is hidden and can only understand his cultural philosophy on how to attain affluence. The Yoruba philosophy says, ‘ise lo gun ise,’ the philosophy promotes dignity of labour and the only noble and acceptable means of attain affluence. The truth is that how many of these ones are able to explain to their child, if he asks them why they wear agbada?
Their children grow up with no cultural and national pride. The children will expectedly not protect a culture; they have been convinced is a liability. This makes African rebirth almost a lost battle. According to Chancellor Williams, civilisation began from Africa, but we are not able to protect, sustain and defend it because we forgot our history.