Has our education served it’s purpose

 An occasion such as this is most suitable for a discourse on our culture or lack of it. What is culture other than a way of life?. Someone may ask of what use is discussing a way of life that is no longer relevant in the present dispensation. The straight answer is that we had originality and technology that enabled our people to survive in their environment. Unfortunately, all the art and skill that ensured our survival as a race or a tribe have been lost in our reckless pursuit of the western ways of life.All over the world, people have celebrations that are connected with harvesting. Mbaise people had rich cultural heritage associated with farming and harvesting. There used to be the ìIma Uyaraî in which select elders specially attired would go round the market square uttering some arcane incantations. This used to signify the beginning of the planting season. Then there was the ìOhia ji Okuî which extols the supremacy of yam over other crops. It used to be a sacred holiday for ìNdi Ezejiî i.e. those who have yam barns of up to one hundred ìcolumnsî of assorted yams. (Ekwe Ji) The greatest of farm-related celebrations is the new yam festival, which is going on back home right now. However, this is not just about farming and its ceremonies. It is about the ingenuity our people have displayed to ensure survival in their environment. Ingenuity and skill that were developed over hundreds of years but are getting lost because we are following the western culture.Certain things our forefathers achieved we naturally take for granted. Think of the mat (akirika) they used for roofing their homes. They did not take the banana leaf, which would have been the most appealing because of its size and width. They did not choose the leaf of the oil palm-tree, which is shaped just like the leaf of the chosen raffia palm. Why did they choose the raffia palm leaf? It took scientific observation to make the choice. The raffia palm leaf has a very strong laminate that serves two useful purposes. Mind you, every other leaf has laminate but theirs is very weak hence they degrade few days after the leaf is plucked from the plant. But the laminate of the raffia palm is extraordinarily strong. The laminate is often striped from the leaf at the tender stage and used in making some sort of ornamental colorful bowls. This laminate gives the raffia leaf the durability that makes the retatching of roofs a biennial affair. In the field of medicine, our people held their ground. Being people close to nature, our people looked to nature to provide them the wherewithal to cure their ailments. They were able to identify and isolate plants with different curative powers. They discovered plants for combating the endemic malaria. There is a plant called ìanyasobaraî(i.e. the eyes that do not wish to see blood) for stopping bleeding. There is a plant whose extracts help a woman delivered of a baby to achieve uterine involution after delivery. They had a procedure for neutralizing rabies if caught early enough. They had treatment for whitlow. Our forefathers excelled in orthopedics. Sure they had their area of opportunity. Hygiene was poor hence gastro infections were endemic. But was it not like that with early western medicine. Thereís no end to the feats achieved by our forefathers before the coming of the white man. The list can go on forever: agriculture and crop storage, the rope for climbing palm tree and the ladder to climb the ever-useful raffia palm tree, justice, communal and individual ownership of land, philosophy and ethics. The problem with us is that we the ìeducatedî never consider it necessary to detail, extol and document our peopleís contribution to civilization and take them to greater heights with our own contribution.The advanced countries of the world are where they are today because later generations strengthened and added to the foundations already laid by their ancestors. As we celebrate this cultural festival today, let us ask ourselves this question: is there any aspect of our original way of life as began by our forefathers we have improved upon in anyway by virtue of our education, enlightenment, knowledge, or literacy. The answer proves the pragmatic value of our education.