Prof Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni of the University of South Africa has described African knowledge as the best solution to solving African problems.
Gatsheni said this in Nsukka on Wednesday in a lecture entitled: “Knowledge Loss, Bondage and Regrets in Post-contact Society” at the 1st international conference of Africanity Scholars Network (AFRISCON) at the University of Nigeria Nsukka.
He urged Africans to begin to take African knowledge more serious as western knowledge and culture currently in use in the continent were no longer relevant to solve numerous problems facing the continent.
“The loss of African knowledge and over dependence on western knowledge is one of the factors responsible for Africa under-development.
“How will the continent have quality education that will drive rapid development, science and technology when educational books are written in English language which is foreign instead of indigenous African languages our children will easily understand,” he said.
The don urged African governments to restore African knowledge and culture by reviewing education curriculum to ensure that books used in schools were written in indigenous African languages as well as focus on African traditions.
“Chinese and Japanese are leading in science and technology because they are using their languages to write their school textbooks as well as teaching and learning.
“It is unfortunate that in some places in Africa, some children will not be able to speak their mother tongue for one minute but can speak English language nonstop for 24 hours.
“If the present loss of knowledge continues, the future prospect of Africa may be bleak as language and cultural heritage of Africa will become extinct in the next two decades,” he said.
In a remark, Bishop Godfrey Onah of Nsukka Catholic Diocese said Africans should uphold the good culture of Africa and shun those that were fetish and against humanity.
“Africans should embrace good culture from their forefathers but fetish ones that have no respect for human dignity should be discarded.
“Jesus died on the cross of Calvary to secure freedom and liberty for all who believe in his name so that nobody will still be on the bondage of evil culture and traditions,” he added.
Speaking, a popular Nollywood Actress, Mrs Mercy Johnson-Okojie advised Africans to embrace technology as well as retain good African knowledge that would help move the continent forward.
“We should take what is good from African knowledge and western education but what I don’t agree is for us to go back to primitive life like our forefathers in the name of culture and tradition.
“Parents should strive to teach their children their native language as that is their own pride and identity,” she said.
Earlier in a remark, Prof. Damian Opata of the Department of English, UNN Nsukka and President of the AFRISCON said the network was registered as a Non Governmental organization.
Opata said the major aim of the network was to critically examine conditions of knowledge production, dissemination in Africa and as it had affected the development of the continent.
“We want to evaluate Africa’s present predicaments and reshape its future and to find out not only when the rain started beating Africans, but to know where the originating rain clouds percolated into rain and washed away our shore.
“We want to find out why Africans have their eyes open and still allow our minds to be carted away in broad daylight by western knowledge and culture,” he said.
Opata explained that the issue was no longer the regret and lamentation over Africa loss of knowledge and culture but what would be done to restore the identity of the continent.
“It is about what we must do now to restore Africa by creating and manning our own space in order to engender new foundational imaginaries of our common futures.
“To interrogate knowledge loss, bondage and regrets in post-contact societies that is why participants are drawn from the academia, custodians of culture, religious bodies, and experts from various fields,” he said.
The Professor of English said the conference would analyse the dynamics of the predicaments of various societies in the Global South and come up with suggestions that would salvage the situation both in the short-term and long run.
“We want to know the disconnect between current academic research in the Global South and the use of application of indigenous constructs therein.
“The network is concerned over unhealthy grandstanding of Europe and North America as people whose ideas should be upheld as the universal,” he said.
The University Don said the network saw crisis of state in Africa as a major factor which impedes development in the continent, especially as this affects education and knowledge production in Africa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the conference was attended by eminent scholars from Nigeria, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Morocco, Germany and US (NAN)