The Miseducation of the Black child

Written By Lunga Tlou 

Pretoria Girls High

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The African nation has once again been awakened to the ills that come with taking children to schools built for European kids. The reality of white owned, white run, white school governed & white cultured schools has once again shown its hand in terms of the level of back bending required of the African child in order to receive this western education. This, all because of 13 year old Zulaikha Patel and her peers at the Pretoria High School for girls. It all started when a young fearless 8th grade student stood up in class to deliver a speech about employment in South Africa. She gave a comparison of the politics of employment pre & post-apartheid and the role of trade unions. Her speech was interrupted and she was taken to the principal’s office and threatened with suspension. When the parents fought the suspension they used the schools hair regulations against her. An illustration of silence tactics that the system has always had in abundance. Like my friend always says to me, “its settler arrogance mchana”.

Although the issue has drawn differing views from the black community, the unfortunate part is that a pro and anti, battle was ensued between the advocates for Natural hair only instead of weaves. The sad thing about all of this is that patriarchy seized the opportunity to police women, not seeing the bigger picture and the victory the collective female body gains from this fight. This is why I think it’s important I aid the situation and speak to every-body, be it pro natural or anti anything else, that THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE HAIR!!!!!!!! I say this because, the hair policy although demeaning and disgustingly asking Africans to tone down their Africanness in Africa, it is just but a small fragment of the system designed to oppress us. This article speaks to the greater issue perpetuated by us as black people, in that, 22 years into democracy, we still send our kids to white schools and even celebrate it as achievements when our kids are accepted into these institutions. Not to say that the education dished out in these institutions is below par, no, it is of a high caliber but it just does not aid the development of the African child who must live in Africa with the weight on his/her shoulders to change her situation and that of her people. It is why we call it the Miseducation of the African child. He/she does get educated, yes, but he is mis-educated.

He does not learn his language, instead he is encouraged to take up other languages foreign to the African indigenous. Learning of a language goes hand in hand with learning of the history of the people who speak that language. Although a marvelous sight that an African child can alternate between English, Afrikaans, French & German, of what value is Rhodes, the Queen, Napoleon or Jan van Riebeck to this African child? Of what value is this type of knowledge to his kids or his grandkids? Ponder that one for a bit. Knowledge is universal, that’s why the Greeks could plagiarize all of the knowledge our Ancestors had in Kemet and call it their own. But the setting of where the knowledge is disseminated and the context thereof is key because it directly influences the behaviors of whoever consumes that knowledge in that space. Without speaking psychology, a field I am not academically familiar with, I would love to narrate a paper written by the late Dr Bobby E. Wright from “The Psychopathic Racial Personality and Other Essays” material. He clearly articulates the need for a Black Social theory in terms of the education of our children. He explains that Education is a political matter and whoever controls the education of your child, controls their destiny. I’m reminded of a guy who stood at the gate of Pretoria High School with a placard written “only a fool would let his oppressor educate his children”. Without wasting your time, please indulge in some incepts from Dr Wrights work.

He begins by stating that; one of the most tragic beliefs widely shared by Blacks throughout the world is that White-controlled educational institutions regardless of whether they are elementary schools or universities will educate our children. 22 years into democracy we see that faith continues to prevail in spite of overwhelming evidence which disputes this belief. Blacks continue to ignore the irrefutable truth that, in a racist social system like ours, all institutions will reflect, protect, and sustain values that are consistent with racism. This should not be considered surprising or profound since all institutions serve to perpetuate the social theory of the group which created them. Therefore, in any social system established by Whites, the institutions will reflect racism, blatantly & subtly. So whether it’s a black run country like ours or white run country like the US, White-established institutions will continue to protect the welfare of Whites, period.

This notion is consistent with the theory Neely Fuller as he explained in The Isis Papers by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing (1991). Fuller states that racism is not merely a pattern of individual and /or institutional practice but is indeed a universally operating system of White supremacy rule and domination in which the effective majority of the worlds white people participate. Something we formally echoed in our “Ace of Racism” articles. Fuller also states that various economic systems such as capitalism, communism, and socialism have been devised, used, and refined in the effort to achieve the primal goal of White domination. In other words, the goal of the system of white supremacy is not for anything other than the establishment, maintenance, expansion, and refinement of world domination by members of the group which classifies itself as the White Race.

What does the above discussion have to do with educating the black child? EVERYTHING. Education is a political dynamic and for a people who have no social theory, reading, writing, and arithmetic should be much less important than what is written and read. Therefore, in order to liberate the minds of Black children, a Black social theory must be developed. There is an African proverb which warns the traveler of life that if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. Blacks throughout the world don’t know where they are going, and have resolved to just take any road, what does it matter? As seen in our childhood response to the question; “iyaphi Indlela?”…..”Indlela iyaphambili, ngoba emuva kugcwele” meaning “the road leads me forward for its full at the back”, even when not knowing where the way forward, leads. A social theory determines the destiny of a people by establishing guidelines of life. It defines values and rituals, methods of education, how enemies are to be dealt with, etc. the ultimate achievement of a Black culture.

The eminent Black scientist, Dr Cheikh Anta Diop (1976), succinctly placed culture in its proper perspective by stating the following:

“I consider culture as a rampart which protects a people, a collectivity. Culture must, above all, play a protective role: it must ensure the cohesion of the group. Following this line of thinking, the vital functions of a body of African human science is to develop this science of collective belonging through a reinforcement of culture. This can be done by developing the linguistic factors, by re-establishing the historical, the consciousness of African and black people so as to arrive at a common feeling of belonging to the same culture and historical past. Once this is attained, it will become difficult to divide and rule and to oppose African communities one against the other.”

It is important to note that, Black children, can only be educated after Blacks develop a philosophy of education, which must be contained in a Black social theory. There is no alternative to this dictum and without it, whatever Black independent schools we establish, they will sure fail to reach their full potential. It should be clear that this shouldn’t discourage the establishment of Black independent schools for they can exist by themselves. The shortfall is that they will be limited in what they can accomplish, as long as there is an absence of other Black institutions, e.g.  economic, military, religious, etc. Furthermore, neither can exist in a vacuum because their values and purposes must be consistent with the ideals that are contained in a social theory. So the Black social theory expands beyond the education of the black child but will save that discussion for later.

One of the most valid methods of evaluating the condition or status of a people is to examine the process of their child-rearing practices. The Black child today, whether in Africa or the diaspora, stands as a tragic example of a powerless, directionless people. Throughout the animal kingdom, there is generally an inviolate law which dictates that the young are to be protected at all costs. Yet, in Black communities, not only are children not protected, but in too many cases are offered as sacrificial lambs to a devouring enemy. Therefore, one continues to witness the sorry spectacle of black parents delivering their children to an overt and covert hostile White institution, with the pathological demand that it educate them. Foolish? You be the judge of that. Psychology explains this type of behavior as mentacide, the moment when your brain attacks itself. Known to us as the feeling of “going crazy” where you know that what you’re doing is crazy and goes against your beliefs but you still do it any way.

Pretoria Girls High 2

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Dr Wright states that another dangerous mentacidal assumption shown by the black community is that; many believe that there is value in an integrated educational environment, thereby accepting the fatal implication that education is objective and neutral. The assumption is that one classroom, one teacher, one textbook equals to the same type of education, nope. How many times have we seen kid’s books depicting brown or darker characters as the bad/ugly guys? When a discussion speaks of the conquering Jan Van Riebeck who “discovered South Africa”, do you think a black child interprets that story the same way a white one does? VUKA DARKIE!!! What’s funny is that our Black leaders and parents are so obsessed with the concept of “the closer we get to Whites, the whiter we will get” syndrome that they are willing to pay any price, including the destruction of our children’s minds. Normally when Blacks speak of integrating schools, they do not show any concern over who teaches their children and what influences they bring into the classroom. In fact, Blacks take the general position of, ‘we don’t care what color the teachers are as long as they are qualified’. Just like what the economists who infiltrated black movements and influenced policy changes stated, “What does economics have to do with race?” If you agree with them, then I think you must read the late Julius Nyerere’s papers or just follow the story of Thomas Sankara.

What’s worse though, is the behavioral attitude of most Black educators within these white institutions. Even as they observe the destruction of the minds of their children, they still exhort the virtues of white education.

Dr. Chancellor Williams (1974), in his incomparable book, The destruction of the Black Civilization, thoroughly analyzes the Black educator by saying: Those Negroes who are so frantically fighting to escape from the African race by way of integration and amalgamation will continue to meet everlasting and universal opposition from the Whites. Surely then White people must truly feel a sense of pride in seeing the many black parents so clearly validating their own beliefs in White superiority. Aren’t they proclaiming to the entire world that, regardless of general desegregation, in any all-Black or predominantly Black population, the Blacks themselves are utterly incapable of achieving or maintaining high standards of excellence in education or, indeed anything else? Here we have, within the race, the intolerable situation of a pro-Black group proclaiming the races inherent inferiority through their anti-Black actions.

We must be about the business of liberating the minds of Black children. In order for that to occur, the minds of all Blacks who interact with them must also be liberated. There is no other way. It is relatively easy to educate Black children, even about their Africanity. But, it is extremely difficult to reinforce the education. Therefore, even sitting in the same classroom, White children will be educated and Black children will be mis-educated. The miseducation leads to teaching black children what to think rather than how to think about themselves. This then makes them dependent rather than assisting in developing skills which could be used for independent activity. Such is then enforced through rewarding behavior that’s operated against their group’s interest whilst promoting the individual, rather than group achievement and instilling negative self-concepts and low self-esteem. Did you listen to the confessions of the Pretoria High girls about the constant degrading treatment dished out by their educators? If you think it only happens at Pretoria High, then you are part of the problem.

Black independent schools are important not only for how they will teach but for what they will teach. Their purpose of instilling within Black children an African Worldview will be the most important activity those children will ever experience. Some of the most dangerous Blacks in the world are many of those brothers and sisters who finished graduate school with honors and yet operate against the interest of Blacks because of their Eurocentric orientation. Dr Wright does not mean to imply that Blacks should not attempt to achieve high levels of training in White institutions, but that they should be aware that it is not an African education they are receiving. Furthermore, there is no attempt here to glamourize the street mentality that is so prevalent in the Black community & in Kasi public schools today, which is creating widespread destruction, no. So many things need to change in the public schooling system and as long as kids are still taught under trees, we still have a long way to go.

Since it is adamant that we do not have Black institutions, black parents whose children are in white schools should at a minimum expose them to a supplemental Black educational program. This can be done through activities that the child is exposed too, that reinforce their Africanness. I once participated in a Facebook discussion where the post asked “what things do you do to or with your child that increases their pride to be African?” The answers were so vast and beautiful. From teaching kids African history, teachings about their culture, wearing traditional clothes, eating traditional food, less TV and more books, playing African music, ensuring kids learn at least two or more SA native languages plus other African language lessons (mostly Swahili), plentiful visits to granny’s house etc.

This shows you that a child’s being can be reinforced at home although they go to white institutions, case in point, Zulaikha Patel. The solution to our problem is the development of a Black social theory which will lead to the salvation of our children’s minds. We need to lead ourselves out of the Whiteness of Eurocentric madness and into the Blackness of African salvation.

 Bobby E. Wright (paraphrased)

I would like to end of this piece by quoting the great Carter Godwin Woodson in his book, The Miseducation of the Negro, where he said:

“The leading facts of the history of the world should be studied by all, but of what advantage is it to the Negro student of history to devote all of his time to courses bearing on such despots as Alexander the Great, Caesar, & Napoleon, or to the record of those nations whose outstanding achievement has been the rapine, plunder, and murder for world power? Why not study the African background from the point of view of anthropology and history, and then take up sociology as it concerns the Negro peasant or proletarian who is suffering from sufficient ills to supply laboratory work for the most advanced students of the social order? Why not take up economics as reflected by the Negroes of today and work out some remedy for their lack of capital, the absence of cooperative enterprise, and the short life of their establishments. Institutions like Havard, Yale and Columbia are not going to do these things, and educators influenced by them to the extent that they become blind to the Negro will never serve the race efficiently.”


Our Land

So we can build

The Africa We Want

Aluta Continua

About the Contributor

Lunga Tlou is an Honours Graduate who is driven by the great potential that Africa and her people have. He is a firm believer in a “Woke” generation of African pupils. A Co founder of Awakened Minds, who is a Pan African in thought and a Revolutionary in deed.



We are Pan African writers. We write about the livelihood of “Black bodies” in an anti-black society. We use Pan Africanism & Black Consciousness as tools of analysis to diagnose many of the conditions that plague us as a people and come up with solutions that can progress the African Nation towards Total & Universal Black Liberation, Now!

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Posted in BlackEducation, Racism

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