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Nigeria and the Influence of its Kindergarten Education
By: Ehimwenma E. Aimiuwu
Feb 2008

 

 

As a young child growing up in Nigeria in the late 70s, I was an extreme worshipper of education and all the fun and joy that came with it.  In fact, I was involved in anything you could imagine – from story telling to poems and lullabies, to drama, and to the playground games.  I was so addicted to it that if I was not involved, then there was a conflict of schedule.  Now that I am older and a little wiser, and I have seen the world for what it truly is, I have come to realize that some of our kindergarten songs and stories where not good for us as a people.  Nigeria did not control its education after colonization; in fact, colonization used our education to train our minds to be consumer of our recycled resources instead of becoming producers for the world to consume from.

I will give you four examples, their illustrations, and their economic impact aside from the illustration of Snow White, which I posted earlier.  The first one goes like this:

Picketty Picketty my Black hen
She lays eggs for the gentlemen
Sometimes nine and sometimes ten
Picketty Picketty my Black hen

They did not only make them rhyme at the end for you singing and dancing pleasure, but boys and girls also had to come out, put their hands on their waist, and shake their buttocks like a hen.  For those of us who had the luxury of buying the imported books of the time, Picketty was prettier than any hen on the street and the gentlemen she was laying eggs for were all well-dressed White men.  Even if Picketty enjoyed laying eggs, did she charge the White gentlemen for them?  Did she have a choice of laying less than nine eggs for them?  Did she lay any egg for herself or her roaster, or the gentlemen also owned the roaster and he had no choice?  I ask these questions because I see that no matter how low a White man is even in Africa, when he speaks, it is law, even when it does not make sense.  All he needs is the support of the women.  I have seen instances where a Black husband or any Black man would speak, but our women would disagree publicly (Black Americas and Caribbean included), but when one stupid White man speaks in agreement with the Black man, the case is closed.  This happens even in our place of worship, our events, and our schools.  Unconsciously, we have accepted him as boss, even when he is wrong.

 

The second one goes like this:

Pussy cat pussy cat
Where have you been?
I have been to London
To see the Queen

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First it was a hen, now it is a cat.  Does a cat get visa and sit on planes?  Let us call it what it is – inferior colonized peoples.  To this day, Nigeria is called a colony of British Commonwealth and all our stupid leaders still bow to London and the Queen.  We go to London to see the Queen, then come back and say we traveled.  Did you go to London to import a Nigerian produce into England? Did we go teach them our history and language?  Did we go teach them the value of Nigerian food, education, and music? No, we went to London to see the Queen.  We usually come back and with all their junk and thrash and dump them on our struggling economy.  During Obasanjo’s first term in office, one female senator said that she went to London to see the parliament and all she got from the trip was how well people stood up and clapped as the Prime Minister walked in.  She did not say she was impressed with what was discussed, how it was discussed, how it was organized and presented, or how issues where resolved for the progress of a nation.  What a pussy cat indeed!!!

The third one goes like this:

Ba ba Black Sheep have you any wool
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full
One for the master, one for the dame
And one for the little boy who lives down the lane

 

How many black sheep have you seen compared to white sheep?  In the pictures, the master, dames, and boy were all White people.  Why is it always an animal dealing with White people?  The pussy cat had to go to London, but why didn’t the horse come to Nigeria?  First it was a Black hen giving up her eggs and it had to be a minimum of nine, now it is a Black sheep giving away its wool or oil.  Did they pay him for his wool?  Does he need his wool to keep warm or he will have to wait for the master to turn his wool into winter coat and sell it to him at a much higher price.  Must you say “yes sir” for your own wool or oil?  The master asked for “any wool”, but the owner of the wool said he had “three bags full”.  Isn’t this over-zealousness for the wrong cause?  What did he get in return for all that wool?  Does he even have any wool left for himself and his household?  It is like England asking Nigeria, if it has one college graduate, and Nigeria would say that all its one million college graduates are in America and England doing menial jobs.  Where are the infrastructures to keep the graduates, so that they can help develop Nigeria?

The fourth and last one is the three little pigs:

Here, there were three pigs.  One built a house of straw; another built a house of sticks, and the last a house of bricks.  In the one I read in Nigeria, a wolf came along and blow down the house of straw and sticks, and ate the two foolish pigs in the process.  It was only the pig that built the house of bricks that survived.  In the American version, the two incompetent pigs ran to the brick house of the third pig for safety.  I was raised in a brick house all my life, but this story made me feel that those in mud or stick houses were inferior or poor.  The truth is that these are our traditional architecture and housing styles.  Even if we must move to the brick style of living, we must celebrate and appreciate our old version of housing.  Our future must be based on the appreciation, understanding, and celebration of our past, and not the ridicule and shame of it. 

One thing we lack in Nigeria is the culture of maintenance and continuity.  We do not know how to continue from where we stopped, or how to improve upon what we have.  We are very quick to dump what we have for external products we really do not need, or are sold to us at inflated prices.  This sets us up to be the world’s consumers instead of producers, because a man who takes all the time reduces his ability to give.  A man that does not give is as good as dead after a long period, because his survival will be based on the efforts of others.  We must learn to keep our eggs, wool, sticks, straws, and oil until will can produce something with it that others will buy from us.  The more we produce what the world needs, the less we will depend on them because we are already producing for our own consumption.  Giving up your eggs, wool, sticks, straws, and oil as raw materials means that you open yourself up for the importation of what you would have created to generate wealth from others’ consumption of it.  Please fight and stand for good leaders with vision and plan for the country.