Why We Need To Learn Our History
Wherever we go around the world, we can find that there is a direct correlation between a people’s identity and their history. Our history is what defines us and it is what explains our current circumstances no matter what part of the continent we live.
It is quite unfortunate that when you ask the average African or person of African descent about their history, the first events that spring up into their minds are the traumatizing happenings of colonization and slavery. Yes, these events are a reality and had a great effect on our people but they aren’t the only things that happened in the past. There are so many men and women from our continent who achieved great things but we choose to celebrate other peoples’ successes at the expense of our own.
The knowledge of great leaders like Shaka the Zulu of South Africa, great civilizations by the Ancient Egyptians and the existence of the richest person to ever walk on this earth, Mansa Musa of the Mali empire should be very common amongst the inhabitants of our mother land. These few amongst the vast number of examples I could mention fortify our confidence to tackle problems and progress as nations because we will know that we are capable of doing great things as we have in the past. If someone only has the perception of slavery and colonization about their own people, would they think highly of their peers?
The history of a people greatly influences how they think of themselves and this is known as group-esteem. If people have low opinions of each other they are more prone to fight and disagree with each other. Cooperation is more or less of a myth because they don’t have confidence in each other and this hinders progress for we can only achieve great things together in good numbers.
In our history we find our culture, its significance in our lives and the role it plays in identifying us as a people through our practices from the time of our ancestors. When we don’t think highly of ourselves and choose not to learn and preserve these cultures, everything foreign to us will seem appealing and easily a better substitute for our practices. This has been going on for quite a while now and is only being accelerated by the growth of social media with the selling of Western culture. It is not their fault but ours, the people who choose to exchange ours for theirs. This cultural genocide is becoming a problem amongst our people and it is highly questionable if generations to come will even know anything African in terms of our values and practices.
Educating ourselves more on our heritage through books can make a difference. The internet has come as a blessing and a curse but we can make good use of it by gaining access to information from excellent African historians like Anthony T Browder and Robert Walker who have written informative accounts of our stories from our perspective. Instead of buying Disney books for our children we can choose others that tell African folktale and get into the habit of narrating these to them like our grandparents did.
Our history tells our story and ignoring it would not do any justice to our futures. A people without the knowledge of their history and origin is like a tree without roots. African history is world history and three hundred thousand years of that history cannot be taught and learnt in only one month. Celebrate African history 365!