Tag: education

Non-material Inheritance

A lot of us Africans know that our great-grandparents did not leave us a trust fund to be used when we turn 25 or some other fancy dream like that. Even when our parents die, few of us can claim an inheritance, especially the female children. In Shona custom, the male child is often the heir to whatever inheritance is left behind, such as a house or estate and whatever possessions. The female children are expected to marry and live with their husbands, hence not much is left to them in terms of an inheritance. My point is, even having an inheritance to speak of is not common. Most impoverished families are left with a house or a few rooms they have been renting for years and a pile of bills to pay.

When my father died last year, I realised that there is such a thing as non-material inheritance. He was not a wealthy man so I did not inherit any material possessions after his death. None of my siblings did. My family was one that we were always told that education is our inheritance. My mother used to sing that song every school term before I left for boarding school. So, I knew from a very early age that my parents’ investment in my education (school fees) was sowing into my inheritance, which is knowledge, that I can transfer into getting employment and therefore be able to take care of myself.  Growing up like this taught me the value in things non-material, things that actually outlive us as mortal beings. That is why I value education so much and I will pass on this valuable lesson to my children one day.

One thing of immense value that I inherited from my late father was the love of writing. That man would write such beautiful words especially when he was feeling down. Like me, he used to keep a journal and he would write when inspired. He wrote poetry and words of wisdom (quotes) that looked like something from the book of Proverbs. The first time I ever saw the proverb “silence is golden” was in my father’s journal, that time I was 14 years old and he let me read it. I remember wondering for days what those three words meant, but I knew they were powerful. Years later I read that these words originated from ancient Egypt and in 1831, they were translated to English by the poet Thomas Carlyle.

Such was my father’s love for writing and he passed it on to me. Writing taught me to trust in my own voice, to believe in my dreams and to really love myself. Thanks for that Dad.

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Just thinking about non-material inheritance brings so many powerful emotions. Because usually, an inheritance comes after a loss. But, I am starting to think that when we strive to leave behind non-material things, they are more valuable than material things could ever be. The memory of the departed lives on unlike in an immovable possession like a house or a car.

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What would you wish to pass on to your children and/or family that would last forever? Something eternal that no one would ever take from them? 

Day 19 Blogtember Challenge

#MyAfricaMyWords

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Africa, the land of the educated?

I have been pondering lately on education and our beautiful African continent. Look, it is no surprise that Africa is full of intelligent and really bright young minds. But, I am not sure if  I still have that much confidence in our education system. Why is it that for one to be taken seriously on the global platform, they need to have added some form of overseas training to their CV? What is it that makes our academic qualifications less recognised in most disciplines? Why are our graduates at home, unemployed?

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Without pulling the race card and thinking back to the role played by colonization and Bantu education (South Africa), what has stopped the African nation states from improving the quality of our education system? Zimbabwe is, according to some reports, the best-educated country in Africa, with literacy levels over 90 per cent – putting it ahead of South Africa, Kenya and Namibia. However, its population’s access to higher education is about 8 per cent, far behind South Africa (with 18 per cent access) Source

The higher education system in Zimbabwe took a huge blow in 2017 when it became public knowledge that the University of Zimbabwe, which was the country’s first and most respected university, granted a PhD to the wife of former President, Robert Mugabe, who had no formal educational qualifications, had not attended the university nor written a thesis. Apparently, she registered two months before she was granted the degree. Now, as someone struggling with a PhD myself, I know that does not sound right. Acts such as these from an institution of higher learning taint the whole reputation of the education system.

Higher education in Africa faces the challenge of high percentages of unemployed graduates. Graduates are losing hope because they cannot turn their degrees into gainful employment.  In August 2016, Zimbabwean graduates took to the streets to protest under the banner #thisgown, the gown being the graduation gown they wore at graduation.

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Source:ZiMetro

They were angry and frustrated at the reality of graduating and sitting at home for 3-5 years or even more. After years of struggling with tuition and accommodation fees, graduate families were left worse off than before; yet there is no relief.

I have been fortunate enough to study abroad and have not yet experienced unemployment (touch wood), and when I think of my fellow mates back home, I cannot help but wish there was a solution to the hopelessness. I picture a continent where young people feel confident about their pursuits in life. If higher education is one of their goals, that they feel confident in that someday their hard work will pay off. We come from a continent where very few of us inherit wealth from our parents or grandparents. Being educated used to be our way out of poverty and, but is that still the case? Someone said:

education is a tool to eradicate poverty, but it needs to be of a high quality.

I still believe in the power of education to change lives, in fact, it has changed my life. But the reality is different for a lot of people back home.  What can we do? If anything…

In our own small way, with the aim of giving back to our society, my friend Uchechi from Nigeria and I have started a research network. We hope to provide mentorship services to younger people seeking to get into academia. Young people aiming for a research degree or already pursuing one can benefit from information such as scholarships, proposal writing, academic writing workshops and general career guidance related to research. You can get in touch with the Global South Research Network on IG, Facebook, Twitter @GSRPGroup.

GSRPG

We start with what we know how to do and hope that one day, our goals of making the world a better place will be realised.

Day 12

BlogTember Challenge