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the impact of western education in african culture: a case study of ihitte/uboma imo state

Abstract: This study investigated the impact of western education in African culture: a case study of Ihitte/Uboma L.G.A. Imo State as the case study. The central argument stems from the submission that colonialism, slave trade and missionary are the platform upon which Western education thrive and are sustained. While insisting that Western education has precariously contaminated the traditional values of Africa, the paper contends that Africa had established, well before the advent of colonialism, a pattern of home-grown political systems, governance process and generally acceptable institutional rule-making arrangement, such that there was progression in the pace of civilization of Africa and self-styled tempo of technological development.

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The paper further submits that the dynamism and significance of Africa on the global continuum tends to support the argument that Africa would have evolved and sustained level of development and civilization without the retrogressive contact with imperial forces. The paper adopted descriptive analytic model to drive home its points and relies on neoliberalism, liberal democracy, colonialism and missionary to prove the effects of Western education on Africa. It concludes by putting forth viable options as a panacea for Africa to come out of its cultural logjam.

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

  1. BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

 For a start, someone might argue that colonialism, slave trade and missionaries are the bastion of Western education in Africa. This is true to the extent that colonialism serves as a vehicle of implantation of cultural imperialism in Africa. Colonialism, perceived in this context, is an imposition of foreign rule over indigenous traditional political setting and foreign dominance and subjugation of African people in all spheres of their social, political, cultural, economic and religious civilizations.

Western education began to creep into African socio-cultural milieu, first, with the contact of Europeans with Africa, a consequence of Berlin conference in the quest for imperial pilfering of African resources and, later, consolidated by the unstoppable wave of globalisation. It is important to stress that colonialism distorted and retarded the pace and tempo of cultural growth and trend of  civilisation in Africa. One of the most profound consequences of colonization has been how the political and economic rape of the colonies has also led to what sometimes seem to be an unbridgeable cultural gap between the nations that were the beneficiaries of colonization and those that were the victims of the colonial assault.

The era of colonial pillage and plunder led to the relative stagnation and often precipitous decline of traditional cultural pursuits in the colonies. With Africa subjugated and dominated, the Western culture and European mode of civilisation began to thrive and outgrow African cultural heritage. Traditional African cultural practices paved the way for foreign way of doing things as Africans became fully ‘westernised’. Western culture now is regarded as front line civilisation. African ways of doing things became primitive, archaic and regrettably unacceptable in public domain. Not only were certain aspects of the material culture in the colonies lost or destroyed, colonial societies also lost the power and sense of cultural continuity, such that it became practically impossible to recover the ability to strive for cultural progress on their own terms.

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The social fabric was completely devastated and a new culture of violence was implanted. Traditional African systems of conflict resolution were destroyed and, in their places, nothing was given. The democratic process, rudimentary though it was, but with great potential as accompanies every human institution, was brutally uprooted and replaced by the authoritarianism of colonialism. A new crop of elites was created, nurtured, and weaned on the altar of violence and colonialism armed with the structures of the modern state to continue to carry out the art and act of subjugation of the mass of the people in the service of colonialism (Mimiko, 2010:641-42).

The above assertion was corroborated by Kasongo (2010:314) when he submits that “one could infer that when westernisation was imported to African countries, the hidden side of modernism was materialist interests. Civilisation was just another concept of domination: imposition of incoming new culture over traditional cultural values”. It is important to emphasise fundamentally that urgent and more decisive steps need to be taken in order to reorder and reverse this evanescent trend of cultural emptiness, without which Africa may experience seasons of cultural extinction and drought of African values. It is appalling o note that two hundred years or so of colonisation were not only destructive in terms of cultural heritage and values for which Africa was famous before colonialism but also precariously retrogressive as the continent was robbed of decades of opportunities- opportunities of self-development, opportunities of self-government and, indeed, opportunities of self-styled technological developmental pace.

There is need, therefore, for the flogging of the negative impact of Western education on Africa in all fora; so that policy makers can begin to see the need to reappraise their policies that contribute to the cultural dearth of Africa or the ones that negate the principles of cultural revival. The focus of this paper, therefore, is to have a holistic appraisal of culture and Western Civilisation to the extent of distortions and retardation it caused to Africa and its pace of development, and also, by the same measure, illuminate into the options that are left for Africa.

the impact of western education in african culture: a case study of ihitte/uboma imo state

1.2       STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Over time, our African culture seems to be going into extinction, our good morals and virtues are being relegated as well. Good morals like good sense of dressing, respectful manner of speech, honesty and hard work. With the advent of western education, obscene dressing has now become a part of us which our forefathers greatly opposed. Also, materialism has overshadowed honesty and hard work which Nigerians were known for.

Consequently, one of our good morals was the respect Nigerian youth’s accord to their elderly ones. Before now, some parts of Nigeria, the Yoruba’s to be precise prostrate to greet their elderly ones. These days, that is gradually becoming a fairy tale as some youths find it difficult to greet and even when they try, respect will be lacking in it.

Even our African mode of marriage is gradually phasing off with time, all these and more are the disadvantages of the western education on our Africa culture.

African virtues such as honesty, humility, loyalty, hard work, truth and respect have been undermined by western education. These virtues which are essential ingredients of the African society are gradually being seen as uncivilized. Materialism has taken the place of  honour and hard work. Respect for traditional institutions has also diminished. People are no longer fair to each other. There is a breakdown of social discipline all in the name of civilization. The capitalist tendency of western education has corrupted the communal and cooperative spirit of the people to the extent that parents complaint that they can no longer ask their children to do any service to them without the children asking for remuneration.

The African traditional religion is another area that has suffered a setback through western education. Western education was introduced by Christian missionaries who saw education as a potent instrument of evangelization.

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