Decolonise yourselves – Geingob

Student leaders who told the president that universities should be “decolonised” got more than they bargained for.

28 May 2019 | Government

What started out as a plea by the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) leadership to decolonise tertiary institutions turned into a history lesson when President Hage Geingob schooled them at State House last week.

Geingob stepped in when the student leadership appeared to have little knowledge of Africa Day, which was celebrated this past Saturday.

The president reminded them that African dignity and history is based on an African set of values, which starts with respect for elders.

“Today the insults youth hurl at old people is something else; it is not the African culture. Decolonise yourself to know African history properly and do not misinterpret it,” he said.

When he asked whether they knew their history or what Africa Day is about, in chorus the students shook their heads to confirm they do not really know.

The Nanso leadership includes three law students, a political science student, a sociology master's student and a microbiology student.

The group solemnly told the president they want to decolonise tertiary intuitions so they accept sick notes from traditional healers.

They also want government to introduce mother-tongue instruction and increase African content.

Nanso secretary for education, training and research, Ephraim Paulus, informed the president that tertiary education institutions refuse to accept sick notes from traditional healers.

“Regionally the discussion on the decolonisation of the education sector continues,” he said.

According to him one of the measures that can move Namibia towards having a decolonised education sector includes the introduction of mother-tongue languages as mandatory mediums of instruction at primary schools.

Another measure is for all institutions of higher Learning to increase African content in the curriculum.

“Government should incentivise the study of African culture, medicine, history and languages. Educators and parents should teach learners and students the importance of indigenous skills. All people living in Namibia should implore African dignity,” Paulus urged.

The president, however, said he is disappointed and worried that the Namibian youth are becoming increasingly tribalistic and disrespectful.

“I am worried that you are more backward and tribalistic. You are telling me I must go and throw the stones,” he said in response to their call that sick notes from traditional healers be recognised.

“Is this a crucial and burning issue,” asked Geingob, adding they must decolonise their “mind of dependency”.

“I am afraid that if you want to go back to the old customs. Where we will be?” he asked.

“When are we going to build up this country to get to the Fourth Industrial Revolution when you talk about traditional healers?” he asked.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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