If the present generation doesn’t have a strong affection for Africa, then we will all, soon enough be doomed. As we become more globalized, our children are more exposed and likely to live and work in different countries in the world, and with this arises the question of whether or not their patriotism to their motherland will survive. Do the present generation have the same passion for the continent as the older generation did? So how can we promote and sustain the love for the country into a child?
Teaching history: the power to inspire.
To induce, and make the younger generation understand the value of patriotism, actions have to be implemented from childhood stages. A seed will grow to be a huge tree only if it’s watered properly from the beginning. This should be a gradual process which will most likely be effective through history lessons.
We should make the change and emphasis on patriotism in the curriculum in schools and higher education institutions and include more accurate information’s in our history learning materials. The current curriculum dehumanizes our freedom struggle and desensitizes children from the hardships our freedom fighters went through. Our history is full of inspiring leaders and events which would make any African proud.
We can’t aspire to be patriotic if we haven’t been inspired!
However, most of us never learn more than what the “colonial masters” have written. As a result, our history materials and teaching techniques urgently need to be evaluated and revised to fit our goal of patriotism. Every African youth needs to be made aware of the achievements of our society and leaders both present and past in great details. A feat which can be achieved through the above-stated measures, educational tours and regular cultural events showing the diversity of Africa.
How can schools and teachers contribute?
History should be learned not only to get good grades but to, most importantly, imbibe patriotism in students. However, our educational systems have been conditioned to rely greatly on quantity rather than quality. A structure which forces students to be more grade than knowledge conscious. It is the responsibility of teachers to make learning livelier, this can be done by adopting innovative teaching methods such as dramas, group discussions, simulations, role play or serious gaming. They are more meaningful learning methods and remembering information longer. Furthermore, grades should be awarded based on the level of impact and output a course has had on its students than the ability of a student to dictate back information given.
I don’t understand why teachers make History into such a boring and painful subject. I can vividly recall my days as a primary school student in Mbanga, History and Civic Education were the most boring subjects for us. We need passionate teachers who can teach history from within, a somewhat mission impossible seeing as many persons now apply to teaching jobs for the sole purpose of earning a living and staying afloat. Many teachers we find now in the educational system have no passion for their job which is just a business to them or an escape from poverty
How can parents contribute?
I believe instilling patriotism begins at home with parents. But the mother has an exceptional role to play in it as she is the one with whom kids are mostly involved. She could help history become relevant to children by telling history through the experiences of the family or ancestor, tell them stories about our real heroes (Um Nyobè, Manga Bell, Akwa…), great personalities (Samuel Eto’o, Richard Bona, or scientists (Achille Mbembè, Arthur Zang…).
The way the parents’ outlook to freedom will be, same shall follow to their children also. But sometimes, even parents don’t really know their history or some don’t even care about that. An act as little as a short story on our national heroes can have a wonderful effect on them. During national holidays, they should tell them the struggle behind or let them participate in those programs. Children should be properly enlightened and educated on the importance of various traditions and cultural practices. Involvement is also a necessity, with this, they will grow up remembering and appreciating various vital Festival, and in turn, metamorphose into patriotic youths.
Teach them to respect National symbols and National Holidays
In Zimbabwe, pupils in infant, junior and secondary schools are required to recite a national pledge of allegiance. The rationale behind introducing the national pledge of allegiance is to build a sense of patriotism and national identity among the youth in the hope that this will guide their behaviour into future. But it is multi-layered when one looks at it. It is not just an attempt at building patriotism among the youth but also orienting them to the principles found in the Constitution. Zimbabwe is not the first country to have pupils recite a national pledge of allegiance. Rwanda, Nigeria, Singapore, India, Ghana and even the United States of America do that. In Ghana, I have observed national symbols present on the wall in every Junior school.
Promotion of our Mother Tongue
Our language is our identity, children should be taught their native languages from early stages. Your language is the gateway to your culture and traditions. We, in our pursuit of becoming global, ignore our language, thereby cutting ourselves off our heritage. Many African youths consider conversing in English or French a privilege, the same cannot be said of their native languages. It’s therefore imperative to our cause that parents converse with their children in their native language as much as possible. This will help instil a sense of pride in a child, raising their consciousness to the fact that his or her roots are in no way inferior to any other. And also enabling them to connect to their heritage. I have observed people who are connected to their mother tongue are also connected to their culture and traditions.
The Role of Media
We might not realize this, but, the entertainment industry can play a huge role in instilling patriotism and filmmakers can actively participate in it. The Cinema has a huge traffic, and this can be used as a tool to promote culture, traditions, and history. With high-quality edutainment contents, documentaries, films and even storytelling competition and festivals, the media has a great role to play in achieving this great feat.