Renowned scholar, professor of History and International Studies and Dean of Students, University of Benin, Osarhieme Benson Osadalor has called for cultural preservation and teaching of indigenous languages in our schools.
A scholar of international repute, Osadolor, who has won several laurels, prizes and grants, stated this in an interview with New Telegraph in Lagos. He also noted that teaching of history is imperative for Nigeria’s development.
“My opinion about all of that is let us begin to do what is called cultural preservation, to also teach it in our schools. It is taught in the US and even in Europe. That is why today, in Europe every country insists on the use of its language. If it is a computer, you must use the German language, the French language, English language, Russian language.
You see, if the Russians decide to adopt English for their computer, over time, Russian language will be dead, so, they insist that if you must bring computer to their country you must develop the tools in their language.
Science developed in their language, and that is why it has also aided cultural preservation – the teaching of their language, the study of their language. Like the Arabs, they insist on Arabic. So, why can’t we do a similar thing here? It is all about creating a sense of cultural preservation,” he said.
He added that once that “sense is created for us in this country we will realise that we cannot do anything other than to preserve our culture for generations yet unborn.” On the need for teaching of History in schools, he explained development.
“It teaches us to understand our experiences in the past, what we were confronted with, and how we were able to overcome them, so that even as we are in the present, we are guided by the past. And therefore, we are now able to plan for the future.
That is one aspect and advantage of studying history. “Another aspect has to do with understanding our collective feature as a nation and as a people.
Today, Nigerians talk about politics and government without understanding their history, and therefore we do not have a sense of our national identity, our national character, and our national outlook that would guide us as a people to taking some decisions about our present situations that would lead us to a better future in this country.
“And so, I am worried, very worried about the non-teaching of history in our schools, this is because the younger ones do not understand what is called Nigeria; the younger ones do not also understand how this nation came to be what it is; the younger ones do not know about our past experiences; the younger ones are in the dark concerning how to build the future.
It is only history that will build the compass that would guide all of us, as leaders, the people and various decision makers on how to lead this country to a better future.
I believe George Satiana who said that: ‘Those who fail to remember the past, they are doomed to repeat it. If we don’t learn from the past we will be running the same vicious cycle continuously not knowing what to do with ourselves.
But if we know the past, we will break away from that cycle and move ahead and plan ahead.”
He also noted that “the difference between us and advanced countries of the world – those countries that are developed – is that they know their history; they learn from their past experiences, and they are able to build the future; they think in the future. But we don’t do that here, which is a major problem.
“So, I think it is also important that we study and learn from our past experiences. Look at our national anthem: ‘… the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain…’How do you understand the labour of your heroes in this country without studying them?
Men and women in Nigeria had made enormous contributions to towards national development. They don’t know them; we don’t talk about them; we don’t read about them. So how do we advance this nation without reading about the leaders?
How do you think we will appreciate the leaders of the present and what they are going to do when we don’t remember those who did things in the past? “These are the reasons why I think the teaching of History should be brought back to the school, and syllabus should be designed to prepare text books for students that would learn history.
It is amazing that other parts of the world, they know our history but we don’t know our history neither do we know about other parts of the world. Germany, for example, it is part of their advancement and technological development.
They still study their own history, the history of Europe and other parts of the world, including Africa; and we don’t know anything about it.
Before any European sets out to travel to any part of the world, they learn their history. We don’t here; we just assume that that is the end of the world. So, we encourage government to do something about the teaching of history in our schools.