Reports emerging from the border villages between The Gambia and Senegal have it that thieves and armed robbers are loosed on the population.
Every now and then, reports emerge of thieves having carted away with whole pens of goats or sheep of the villagers. From Amdalai to Kerr Ngaata, Chaamen and Touba Angaleh no sheep or goat is safe.
It is said that once they take these goats and sheep they use the small routes and cross the border into Senegal and once there, end of story. The farmers who had struggled for years and bought those animals to help themselves on a rainy day, are left in the lurch.
It is important to say a little about the value of goats and sheep to our rural folks. Like in Kenya, the rural folks of the Gambia value goats and sheep greatly as it serves as their bank, so to speak.
The farmers rely greatly on these animals so that whenever a need arises and one does not have money to solve whatever problem they may have, they can resort to taking one or two of those animals to the ‘Lumos’ (weekly markets) and selling them in order to solve their problems.
They use the little amounts of money they get from those sales to take their kids to the hospital or buy medicine if they are sick; they use such money to send their children to school to prepare them for the future. Thus, one can see how valuable these animals are to these folks.
As these are citizens of the Gambia who pay taxes just like those in the urban areas, they equally deserve every type of protection from the government for their lives and their properties.
The primary duty of a government is to protect its citizens and therefore every effort should be made to ensure that they are safe.
Another form of security threat that our rural folks are encountering is on the issue of transportation.
As it is in Senegal, using motorcycles (known as Jakarta) has become the commonest means of traveling in many parts of these border villages.
Recently, criminals and thugs have taken up the habit of pretending to hire these motorcycle operatives and once they reach a secluded area, they pull out a weapon (cutlass, knife or even pistol) and order the owner to go away or they will kill him.
At other times, they simply ask you to handover all the money you might have on you and disappear with it.
This has now caused a lot of panic to an extent that many will not transport strangers.
Unless they know you, or you have someone to vouch for you, they won’t transport you.
The latest incident happened when someone came to Amdalai (there is a border post here; police, immigration, and customs officers) and said he wished to be transported to as particular village.
When they went into the forest, he pulled out a cutlass and told the owner to hand him over the motorcycle (which was two weeks old) and he went away with it.
The victim gave up the motorcycle but made a call immediately the robber left and his colleagues came and went after him.
They followed him until he crossed the border into Senegal and that was the end of the story.
There is a need therefore for the two neighboring countries; Senegal and The Gambia to cooperate and seek solutions to solve this problem for the good of their two peoples.
We are talking of West African integration and the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA).
It is therefore necessary to put mechanisms in place to ensure that citizens and their goods can move freely within these countries without fear for their lives and for their properties.
Contextualising our education long over due
Knowledge and minds are not commodities but treasures to be cultivated to improve the quality of life.
A people locked in a mindset that works to oppress them cannot be empowered for their own sake.
People reassert and strengthen their identity when they have access to their original forms of knowledge.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Kenyan academician and activist calls the education system in Africa Europhonic. Much of what´s taken for education is a reflection of Europe in Africa. Where “A = apple” disassociates the African pupil from her everyday reality hence apple trees do not grow in Africa nor has the apple fruit any significance in her cultur
In other words, apples have no linguistic or cultural reference in the African context. Therefore, learning the colonial alphabet means making associations that have no connection to everyday reality.
Colonial languages, values, and cultures become the index of progress and the norm for educational achievement and success.
The disconnection between reality and language, between the content of education, culture and daily life creates a mental state where knowledge, culture, and language are disconnected.
Ngugi describes this psychological state as being for others not for oneself.
Cheikh Hamidou Khan from Senegal illustrates it as an Ambiguous Adventure and Ali Mazrui of Kenya as Triple Heritage
Meaning the deficiency in understanding homegrown forms of knowledge creates a deficiency in self-actualisation, self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, and respect by others.
The struggle for an African educational system is also about producing knowledge that satisfies the demands for cultural identity.
It is about redirecting a misrepresented curriculum to affect a critical and a transformative education system that decolonizes the African mind. It is about recognising the values that strengthen behaviors of unity.
Where the African curriculum recognises African knowledge systems and values for purposes of fostering an educational discourse conducted by, with, and for the African. The knowledge that has Africa as its means and its end has to focus on homegrown socio-cultural educational models and knowledge structures. Education developed from tradition and culture of the people it brings solution to everyday problems, contribute effectively towards the improvement of their condition, and demonstrate Africa’s self-worth among her peers.
“Oral Tradition” is a traditional teaching method with unlimited potential in transferring knowledge.
It is an important aspect of traditional African education theory and practice, concerned with teaching children the oral tradition as well as helping them to learn to use the language both creatively and effectively.
It is through oral traditions that history, as well as its values and beliefs, pass on to coming generations.
Oral traditions play an active part in Africa’s everyday life and a vital educational force that supplies stories of origin and their relation to present-day beliefs, actions, and codes of conducts.
Therefore, an educated person in an African context is an individual who is honest, respectable, skilled, and cooperative and obeys the social order of the day.
The time to contextualise education is long overdue.