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Seun Kuti seeks complete de-colonisation of Nigeria’s education system

Worried by the many contradictions bedeviling the Nigeria’s education system and the colonialist agenda that it espouses, foremost Nigerian musician and son of the late Fela

Seun Kuti

Worried by the many contradictions bedeviling the Nigeria’s education system and the colonialist agenda that it espouses, foremost Nigerian musician and son of the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Seun Kuti, has called on relevant authorities to de-colonise the curricula of Nigeria’s present education system and push for a more inclusive and pan-Africanist ideology.

According to him, “The education we get is deficit; it makes us feel this world is finished; like it’s the best humanity can do. Just 70 years ago, no African was homeless, but today, the majority of us live on the streets. Definitely, the world has been better for African people before, so what have we done wrong and what can we do now? These questions are not raised through our education. What is missing is a complete decolonisation, where we are able to Pan-Africanise our education so that Africans are suffused with a spirit of liberation, understanding their situation that the world is not finished.

“It’s important we decolonise and Pan-Africanise our educational system. When a 10-year-old child can recognise all the plants around and know their functions and then he becomes a doctor, we do not value that as education. But we value labeling the plants, leaves as the new education that we must have as African people.

“So many books have helped me in this journey and the greatest one is written by Dr Marinba Ani called ‘Yurugu: An African-Centred Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behaviour.’ These are deep questions that must be asked by African people today if we are going to have a renaissance to create a new world for our future and children.”

Seun Kuti, who is the leader of the Movement of the People (MOP), made this known while responding to questions as a guest during the Toyin Falola Interview Series. The series which is hosted by Professor Toyin Falola aims to amplify the voices of Africa and the African Diaspora. It tackles topics and issues that affect Africans by talking with key figures and experts in the realm of African affairs. Professor Falola hopes that by inviting prominent figures from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, he would inspire and ignite vibrant discussions among young Africans.

Continuing, Seun Kuti argued that “in my own existence, I have only learnt the imperialist education. We, as Africans, when we key into this curriculum and system of education, we become like them (the Europeans). The Europeans are imperialists. They designed an education to create more people like themselves. So, everyone thinks like them, validates their position in their mind because there’s nothing that controls a man more than his desires. The desire your mind gives you is the kind of person you’ll be.

“When we realise we’ve been through the education of our oppressors, we are the conquered. That is where you get the contradiction of the oppressed people, where oppressed people instead of using the power to free their people from oppression, it’s still the educational system. Many of the things we’ve been indoctrinated with are detrimental to our wellbeing, development and all roundness as African people. I see it as unlearning and relearning, not only enough to know that what I’ve been taught is fake, now I have to learn what I was supposed to have known like my history, politics, why I am here and also understand what drives the people that have created the world we live in. All these questions are now re-opened for examinations.”

The panel of interviewers led by Professor Falola include: Dr. Sola Olorunyomi, Tobi Oluwatola, Chido Onumah and Rinu Oduola, among others, unearthed Seun Kuti’s reservations on politics, religion, economics as well as family life.

In his response to youth participation in the 2023 general election, Seun Kuti shocked the over one million audience when he argued that he was not really keen on finding young people holding political power. For him, “I want everybody to have a chance in 2023 for a better tomorrow. Young people in power, I’m not a fan. I think the Nigerian society needs to have a conversation between young and the old, the rich and poor. The issue we have in Nigeria is that the rich people of the country despise the poor people of Nigeria and we need to have the conversation. What are the responsibilities of those in charge of our commonwealth towards our nation? Young people can only tap into this system, if we invest in ourselves. We must stop the ‘Messiah Syndrome’ where people will be given a chance. We don’t need to be given a chance, if we are truly interested in building our nation. The power to do that is in our hands already, both the young and old; we just have to agree that we want to do it, then start moving that way. Put some money towards the politics of the community, be there to monitor; go to meetings the way you go to party. We all know messiahs don’t truly exist because I can use the words you want to hear for you to support me just the way APC did. No one asked, is it change for the better or for worse? We are the messiahs, we are our own leaders and we must rise up to the position of leadership. Youth in politics, for me, is neither here nor there. What we need is people.”

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