The past was idealistically real

2018-01-11 06:00
Skaap Motsau

Skaap Motsau

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I am not an atavist. I would, however, like to invite you down the memory lane, to the pre-colonial communal communities of our country.

Today, students at tertiary institutions are up in arms, demanding a free and decolonised education.

First of all, I would like to point out that we used to exist in communities numbering above 10,000 souls.

When people come to live together in such big numbers, it means they are organised in some way.

I am particularly interested in education. Then, there were no schools, teacher training colleges or learners as we know them today.

Education and teaching took place effectively, from the cradle right up to initiation schools!

All the toddlers of the village were grouped together. They ate and slept together. The grannies of the village looked after them. They fed and taught them without discrimination. At night they told them educational stories.

Stories about birds, insects, animals and their heroes. They were the children of the village. And all the adults were their parents.

As they grew older, the same group of boys and girls would be separated, and taught different things and chores. The boys would look after the sheep and goats. They were taught about wild animals and how to interact with them; which were dangerous, which to hunt, how and when.

They were taught about the stars, their names, and how the positions of the stars changed with the seasons.

They were taught about the four seasons of the year, what happens and what must be done during the different seasons.

The young girls where attached to women and taught how to collect firewood, to make fire and prepare food, to cook and to sweep.

Although they was zero literacy, all the children were taught how to count: to add and subtract, and to multiply and divide.

As they grew older, so their education and chores changed.

The boys would now look after the cattle. Sometimes they would be away from home for weeks, staying with their cattle where there was plenty of grass and water.

Their survival techniques being perfected all the time. All they had been taught came in handy for survival.

The girls of the same age are now working in the fields alongside the women.

They were taught about different crops; when to plant, when to weed and when to harvest. They were taught about edible grasses, plant leaves, roots and vegetables. Some communities also took the girls to initiation schools.

The initiation schools prepared them for adulthood, so they should become responsible adults.

Thereafter, they could marry or be married. They could now be given their own pieces of land to build their houses and fields to plough and grow their own food. They could now procreate.

What the children of the village were taught, how and when this was done throughout their upbringing, was the responsibility of the community as a whole.

The community as a whole was in charge of the education of the children. As a result, there was no discrimination against any child.

Education was an integral part of the way of life of pre-colonial communal communities. That is why it was universally accessible and usable. Is there anything we can learn from that?

Today the students demand free and decolonised education. Today the education of our children is out of our control. “The fees must fall!”. .Nkutšoeu, Azanla MVA.

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