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Africa Speaks

The Significance of African History

Education and Self Development

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Lecture given by Leslie at the Princess Town Senior Comprehensive School, Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday 1st November, 2006.

Posted: November 08, 2006

Leslie at the Princess Town Senior Comprehensive School 
Good morning principal, teachers, other members of staff and students, I was asked to address you on the importance of African history and the relevance that this subject has on your lives. I only have a few minutes to address you so I would be brief. Before I do so, I would like to state that this address is not only for the students of this school but for the teachers and other members of staff as well who could benefit from what I have to say. I would also like to take this time to recommend a few websites that you can access a plethora of information on the subject matter and other issues relevant to us as young men and women. They are: AfricaSpeaks.com, RastafariSpeaks.com and HowComYouCom.com. You can also view websites such as TriniView.com, TriniCenter.com and TriniSoca.com for information about Trinidad and Tobago. I would repeat the names of these websites at the end of the discussion.

Learning about your African past and doing your own research in this regard is very significant when trying to figure out your existence and your purpose in the world. All human beings owe their existence to the continent where their current distinguishing human characteristics were formed; that Continent being Africa.

Princess Town Senior Comprehensive School
Princess Town Senior Comprehensive School

All the races that you see today - Africans, Europeans, Indians and Chinese - have all descended from a common African ancestor. However, races such as the Europeans and Asians have evolved different physical characteristics to that of Africans as a result of adapting to environments where their direct fore parents settled. Thus, to understand world history, all people must venture back to where it all began, which is in Africa.

It has been a while, about 6 years now that I completed my O' Level education and 4 years now that I completed my A' Level education. What I do remember though, is the bogus history that the system spoon-fed to me and packaged off as real history. I remember that the way they taught the history of Africans was as if Africans history began with the era of slavery. I'm sure that some of you can remember the Christopher Columbus saga and the story of the Indigenous peoples of the West Indies and the Americas. I'm also sure that the first time many of you encountered the history of African people it began with the story of their enslavement as I have. Unfortunately, the History syllabus in the primary and secondary school levels is inadequate to properly deal with the truth of the history of Africans and other people of the world. I would thus recommend that you do your own research. Some historians I recommend are: Dr. Yosef Ben Jochannan, Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Ivan Van Sertima, Aesop (as in Aesop's Fables), Carl Sagan, Gordon Rohlehr, Michael Anthony, Erick Williams, J.A.Rogers, Gerald Massy, Basil Davidson, Chancellor Williams and Muata Ashby. I should mention that not all of these authors are African; some are white; but they have all done extensive research in their fields and have battled to ensure that the truth was put forward. Maybe after you read the books written by these authors, you can teach others about the truth of historical events.

Students at the Princess Town Senior Comprehensive School
Students at the Princess Town Senior Comprehensive School

It is also important that you do your own research for your own Self-development. It encourages you to think critically for your self, it helps you to sift away lies and distortions and it helps you to develop mechanisms to navigate the world around you.

Many may wonder what the meaning of life is and why you are here on earth today. If you want the answer to that, I would not tell you. What I can do is guide you to one of the pathways which is a deeper search in history. Learning about your African, Indian, Chinese and European aspects of the evolution of your self and the different highs and lows that they have experienced as people, can provide a map as to the current situation that we are in today. The reason that many of you today are Christians or Muslims, for example, is a direct result of colonialism and imperialism. And that is a fact. The reason that many of you today are materially impoverished and others ridiculously wealthy is a direct result of the exploitative mechanisms to keep only a few on top of the economic hierarchy and the rest in abject poverty. Our entire lives are affected by situations and systems that were created in the past that evolved into what they are today. Needless to say the injustices of the past were not addressed. Thus, education or I should say Self-education is critical when developing the skills necessary to work around many of the obstacles today.

Let me digress a bit to another important and interconnected point. Quite often education is only seen in the context of academics and as we should all know by now, people who are academically qualified are not necessarily educated. Academics can be helpful in becoming educated but is not the sum total of education. What people need in this regard is a better definition of education. Mr. Amon Hotep gave a definition that I find useful: education is the harnessing and sharing of information and instructions for Self-development. The focus has to be on developing one's Self. Academic education can bring economic benefits later on in terms of a better paying job but there is no guarantee of this. Failure to achieve better academic credentials and job opportunities does not necessarily mean that one is uneducated. For if ones are becoming informed about themselves, they would appreciate that there are numerous obstacles in the society that can impede one's academic and economic progress. Within the general corruption of the system, we have racism, colourism, gender prejudices, size and age discrimination that can all be obstacles towards economic development. Through learning about how these impediments developed alongside refining your personal character can help you to navigate these impediments although this does not guarantee economic riches which societies falsely use as a measurement of success and intelligence. The key to unlocking your natural potential is character - personal integrity. It is up to you to unlock your potential through learning about how the society developed alongside making it your duty to be honest. In so doing more people will develop their creativity and entrepreneurial skills.

Students at the Princess Town Senior Comprehensive School
Students at the Princess Town Senior Comprehensive School

There may be some of you who hold on to revolutionary ideologies and hope to change the unjust world system today. But such change should start with you and you cannot assist with meaningful change if you are not well-informed. Learning about your history, and in particular your African history, can guide you to other functional systems that were more equitable and suitable to the happiness and longevity of all in the society. You would get different ideas about religion and may discover that the origin of all the better lofty ideals in most other religions came from the very people who are mostly despised today on Africa. People do not get many benefits from mainstream religions because their foundations are distorted or outright wrong.

It is only when the lies and distortions that are fed to us by the so-called education system, the media, the parents who don't know better and the governments of the day, are destroyed by the weapons of knowledge, integrity and swift action can we bring positive change to our existence and to our Selves.

I would again recommend the following websites that I also assist in administering: AfricaSpeaks.com, RastafariSpeaks.com, HowComYouCom.com, Trinicenter.com, TriniView.com and TriniSoca.com. You can approach me after this programme for more information if necessary.

Thank you for your time and enjoy the rest of the programme.