By Ola Ajayi
CHAIRMAN, Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, yesterday, warned that the study of history, which was returned into the curriculum of primary and secondary schools in the country, should not be used for divisive tendencies.
Fayemi said this while speaking with newsmen at an international conference in memory of an erudite historian, the late Emeritus Prof Jacob F. Ade Ajayi, held at the University of Ibadan.
The conference entitled: African History and Historiography: Illumining the Pathways and Understanding the Challenges, was organised by the Department of History of the institution, under the leadership of Prof Olutayo Adesina, in conjunction with the J. F. Ade Ajayi Foundation.
Governor Fayemi backed the return of the History subject but warned that: “It is not enough.”
He said: “What is the nature of history that is even being returned? It is a contested space and we have to ensure that those who are students and scholars of history play actively in that contested space to define the character and content of our history so that outsiders will not define it for us.
“History illuminates the pathway. The most important role of history in any society is nation-building. It is when you learn about your past that you can inform you present, and your future of the trajectory and how you fit into that entire world view, Fayemi said”.
“The lesson of history and the lesson of the Ade Ajayi era is that they confronted the circumstances of their era with creativity and innovation. The colonialists said Africa had no history. Ade Ajayi and his colleagues – the generation of scholars that emerged in the post-world war era, said we have a history and we have had traditional political formations way before the colonialists came here.
“Do people in government regard history as important when they cancelled history from the curriculum of our basic and secondary education?”
Also speaking at the event, the Vice-Chancellor, UI, Prof Olayinka, underscored the importance of history noting: “You have to look at your past. What were you doing right at that time? Then the present as a basis of projecting into the future, the present is the key to the future. So, you have to look at your past, the present and the future. I think history is very central to this. That is why we are happy that the study of history has been brought to the curriculum for the basic and secondary school levels.”