Sunday, February 28, 2016

Teacher Mugen


Guro (First Part)
Guro (Second Part)
Guro (Last Part)

From time to time, my mother would ask me to make an appearance at her class, not to talk about what I know in my profession, but to listen to her students as they conduct their report. It was a ceremonial task, performed so as to ensure my mom won't miss her once or twice-a-week lecture, and at the same time, avoid being marked absent by the checkers going around to demand account of the teachers. The last time I did show up was because of an affliction that almost led my mom to be confined in a hospital. It could have been worse. With her blood pressure shooting up to almost 200/xx, there was certainty of stroke. 

But this story is reserved for another entry.

As she recovered, the professor asked me to oversee her class as they discuss the literature of the Africans. For most people, (including me, if I were not familiar with the writings of Chinua Achebe) nobody would ever think those black people from that continent ever produced a body of literary work. Even the students, who began reporting on the topic appear to merely scratch the surface: there was mention of the hieroglyphics, but the Egyptians were omitted. A reporter said that Africans had written and oral literature before the Europeans came, and yet, didn't know anything about the University of Sankore. Worst, they keep harping about racism and apartheid, and yet didn't say a word about the cruelty of the state policy once applied by South Africa

I can't help but intervene and tell them what I know about the people and their tragedy.

Being a student of history, I have always understood that every literary work was drawn from a time period lived by the author. Every social experiment, every revolution, every war he or she had seen and felt leave a mark on his or her writing. This, I explained with so much passion that my arms were all over the place as if to point out what I would like to hear in their report. At the same time, I cannot help but lament what I should be doing, knowing I could have enriched the lives of these students and set the facts straight when every story can be twisted on Social Media and beyond.

"So the Africans had built their civilizations, but they destroyed one another in the name of the slave trade."

"That is why there are Negroes all over the Americas."

"Sometime during the Industrial Revolution, the Europeans decided to colonize the whole continent instead (since forced labor is being replaced by machines)"

"Resources were exploited and so were the people."

"Then the missionaries came, together with their families, converted the heathens to Christianity, only to treat them as second-class people in their own land."

"They divided families from one another, made tribes fight each another."

"In some places, imagine being forbidden to enter a hospital for the white people, eat food for the white people (which the blacks have planted and harvested in the land the whites now own), ride in an elevator reserved only for white people."

"Only a few realized this mistake, and very recently did they make steps to correct this social injustice.

"That is the story of the Africans."

Gasps and sighs were heard inside the classroom.


Feeling satisfied with the grain of knowledge I imparted to my students, I returned to my seat and refrained from interrupting the reporters any further. Meanwhile, inside my head, where the actual thought process was happening, I would have wished I pursued those juvenile dreams of returning to the academe to lend a credible voice and speak out against the systematic revision being done to this country's recent history.

Searching for identity and real self-pride, like the Africans do, we still have a long way to go before we finally re-discover our true selves.


Anonymous said...

How very interesting. I would like to hear your lecture too. :)

Mugen said...

If it's a history class, I'd probably have a lot to say. :)