History isn’t taught in Nigerian schools

History is not taught in Nigerian schools.

One of the best ways to determine the state of a nation is to inspect the schools. Just pick any school – primary or secondary – with a sizeable number of students. Observe the student-teacher dynamics, the cliques that form among staff and students, the school’s assessment and reward system, and the curriculum. Then you will know all there is to know about the country that school is in.

History isn’t taught in schools, meaning that our nation doesn’t care about the past. For a people who profess so much respect for ancestors and elders, this is shocking. We cannot begin to dream of a better Nigeria unless we know where we are coming from. Unless we learn from the past, we will never develop. We will simply keep achieving variations of underdeveloped structures and mindsets – not progress.

Children don’t know their heritage, so the country’s future is in soup. They only know about American presidents and King Henry VIII’s wives from cartoons and television shows. They know nothing of our powerful precolonial kingdoms and empires, the great kings and queens, what the Benin bronzes and Nok terracotta sculptures are, the animals that once roamed Nigeria that have left their traces in ancient artwork, and nsibidi and how the easterners communicated before the British imposed their culture on us.

Our museums are empty and desolate because there is no curiosity. I used to get annoyed whenever I visited the Things-Stolen-From-Other-People Museum in London because those artefacts are ours. They were unfairly taken from us and the British have innocent blood on their greedy hands. However, now that I am back in Nigeria and I see the grotesque lack of regard for our heritage, I think those artworks might as well stay where they are in the UK; where they are treasured and appreciated; where people value every curve and symbol, oohing and aahing at them in amazement.

We destroy historical sites and buildings because we do not see their value. Buildings I grew up with are no more. Mud houses, Portuguese structures, colonial architecture are being torn down to make way for shopping malls and overbuilt houses, magnanimous shows of wealth and prestige. We pay millions of naira every year to go around London and see their old buildings and monuments. Yet, we are destroying ours.

If we knew our past, perhaps we would treasure its footprints. We need to put history back on the menu in schools. We cannot progress until we lay in our minds the foundation that is history, standing on the shoulders of giants.

 

Image|Sacred Forest, Osogbo|Source: Jeremy Weate, Flickr

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9 Comments

  1. This is really sad. The little I know about history I read while older. Never learnt it in school then. It wasn’t important. And worse still, it has been removed from the Nigerian curriculum.
    A people who do not know their history will keep repeating them, especially the wrong ones.

    Another sad part of this is that we have very few Nigerian history books available. And we keep neglecting this important part of our lives as if it’s not important. Forward ever, backward never. Meanwhile our forward is a 360 turn back to where we started.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldnt have put it better myself. We just keep repeating the same cycle of events all over again.

      I used to think we were savages before the Portuguese and British came and ‘rescued’ us. Then one day, I discovered a BBC documentary on ancient West African empires and their innovations and how exposed they were to the outside world through trade links with the Arabs. I was so surprised. I never thought we did anything with our lives before the Europeans arrived. And like you said, it’s very sad that people are not writing about any of this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I believe people ought to know about history to write about it.
        I dare not delve into writing about History, because my knowledge of it is shallow. There is still lot I would love to learn about. I long to read more about Pre-colonial Nigeria, The Civil War and the Military Era. But the materials are not readily available.

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        1. Oh and Flickr! Those photographers have taught me amazing things about Nigeria. Search someone like Jeremy Weate who’s travelled around the country.

          Like

  2. I disagree with you a lil bit. History is taught in primary and secondary schools via social studies. However, the history lessons are minimal and need to be encouraged foe the younger generation to know about the nation. I believe one of the problems we have in the country at the moment is how flawed our history…no detailed record of past events like the Nigerian civil war so many youths rely on mere hearsays. And you know what they say about hearsay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I thought about social studies, but like you said, the history lessons are minimal. They are only touched on briefly, and like many things in our education system, the teacher just throws names and dates at you, for you to memorise, without turning that data into coherent information.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This isn’t quite accurate. I distinctly remember being taught Nigerian history and the history of other African countries, and being tested on this. I remember having to memorize stuff about the Borno empire, and Ile Ife for instance. I know in schools like Queens College and Kings College for example, they learn history. Social Studies was separate from History class. Actually I think I took social studies until jss 3 then after that it was straight up history.

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