“IT WAS NOT SO”

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How many times have you made this statement ” It was not so” in the last few days or weeks?

Perhaps, you have not. What of its close substitutes such as “not exactly”, “not true”, a forceful “no” or “it is a a lie”?

You will agree it is not uncommon to use them.

Do you remember that when you say “it was not so“, you are in a way stating the incorrectness of a statement, event or thing in past tense?  Conversely, ” It is not so” is primed in the present and connotes strong disagreement. It is assuming a different position on an issue, a dissonance of sort.

It was not so” is often used to argue, or correct misconceptions. However, some persons can use it to confuse or outrightly distort facts. For others, it is mannerism in everyday speech that devalues the essence of the statement.

It was not so” could be a statement of good intention designed to explain or prove a point.

“It was not so is at the bottom of mankind’s history. Remember the Edenic stories.

It is deep in the lives of some men, women and children. They relish and swim in its nuances. “It was not so” could tell of the present, past, and future. In many ways, we could be involved.

Over a century, African and Africanist historians have labored to say “it was not so” regarding layers of falsehood and insinuations on Africans and African history.

To counter the aforesaid falsehood, African historians forcefully gained entry into the world market of ideas to say that the black man has honor despite his frailties like other humans.

They emphasize there is humanity in every man regardless of color, size, proclivities and geography.

Various historical schools in Africa championed new research in this effort.  Ibadan, Legon, Makerere and other Schools led the way. There was a long list of African history votaries such as Professors Onwuka Dike, Ade Ajayi, Adiele Afigbo, Gabriel O. Olusanya, Akinjide Osuntokun, Okon Uya, Elizbeth Ishichie, Bolanle Awe and Walter Ibekwe Ofonagoro. Others in this enviable pack include Africanist historians –  Walter Rodney, Basil Davidson amongst others across the oceans. They spiritedly joined in the “it was not so” historical debates. Later, “African triple heritage”sociologist, Professor Ali Mazuri did great job in this crusade.

These scholars had great hopes on Africa. They worked so hard that their Eurocentric counterparts shuddered in awe, not only for their prolificacy but their depth, refinement of thought and unmatched brilliance.

In contemporary times, great chieftains of this great tradition are found in Distinguished Professors Toyin Falola, Ayodeji Olukoju another young musketeer who every day write well researched work of history in large numbers. They make research writing look easy. They straddle across oceans in importance, dignity and reach. In many ways they work hard in following, even surpassing in some respects their grandmasters and forebears.

It may seem reductionist to tag these great academics simply as “it was not so Historians”.The simple tag is not simplistic. These great pioneers fought with bare hands what could be described as ‘the beasts of Ephesus’ in their effort to correct misconceptions of African history. They were bold to emphasize through sound academic works that many so-called histories even tales lapped by many about Africa were not so. It was really not so.

Do millennials know that there was a time many lies were packaged and sold with intensity within academic precincts and over as ‘facts’ that require “it was not so”?

Would it not make sense to research some of the following? You are likely to be deluged with literature on these issues. Take a simple checklist:

Africa has no history. It is history of missionary and explorers.

Africans are weak and lazy.

Slavery was a blessing to Africa.

The Atlantic slave trade thrived because it is only weak and lazy people         that are conquered and enslaved!

African Food kills –  deliberate lies marketed hand-in-glove with manufacturers and government, appropriately tagged by a Professor as “food lies”.

African languages are limited from the beginning hence learning them should be discouraged.

African civilization was no civilization.

To be sure, endless list that can get a sound mind disheveled.

Do you wonder at this snippet and harsh sound bite of the time when these scholars rose to say “it was not so?”

But the challenge is not in the past but of the present. The present is weakened by the recent past. The recent past is bereft of deep understanding of great historian’s efforts hence the disease that earlier practitioners tried to cure becomes acute and now overcoming millennials.

Listen to many young people even old as they stroll on dated themes like so-called African laziness. Many discuss this on social platform without insight and recourse to historical knowledge.

Why were Africans conquered by other nations a new topic argued at newspaper stands today?

Gerontocracy is now a hot topic for the millennials. Some applaud it without reason.

Why are these issues discussed at great length in the past by historians and adjudged closed acquiring momentum? Is it a new awakening?

Some persons have reasoned that those in authority killed History because they don’t understand that they cannot kill history. They yank it off the syllabus. They say why talk about past misdeeds. Official chroniclers say there cannot be a genocide within a country. They entrench strongly held views in their constitutions as no-go-area. They love it and dance all around in glory that did not last. Now the history of the past is confronting everyone. Children are asking questions in confusion. They read about American civil wars, World War 1 and World War11.

Millennials are surprised that their countries at ‘peace’ are at war. Their countries are war ravaged countries. They ask, how are there many wars in these peaceful countries?  They don’t know. Their parents tell them to talk about the present. The past has no hands in the present. Are these shallow parents who are supposed to know their history but do not know because they were not taught? Few that are taught shun hard facts. Their own children that were also not taught history ends up in confusion.

Just like History, they recently toyed with Religious Knowledge as subject of study but noise and pressure caused a reversal. When fundamentals go amiss how can the centre hold?

A striking signature of nations avoiding history, are excuses largely denominated in past tense because they failed to do the needful of the present. This is not a law but a historical walk way.

Worse still, a new generation that knows very little about their past are now hyping the lies that our great historians labored to say “it was not so,” Some of these great historians are dead. Dead men don’t talk. But in a sense – metaphorically, these men will be rolling in their graves. In the same tone, their works certainly hold in derision generations that have caused this havoc. Similarly, old historians alive today would likely bemoan their labour in the corridors of “it was not so”. When, where and how did water entered the pumpkin’s head?

“If one understands history, one will discern that nations once conquered by others could rise from the ashes of defeat to form great nations, this reasonably should limit extravagance of words that demean the conquered.”  This is imaife.

Let us end this story but recount an experience in 2007. This narrative could be instructive. A parent is at a fee paying secondary school in an African city. It is a former government school returned to the original owners.  The headmistress gives a shocker: “History as a subject is of no value.” What are important people going to do with History in the world of computer science/engineering and cell biology? Be sure none of the over 1500 pupils will be taught history.”

Then, a mock battle ensued. This parent insists his ward must be taught History. After a near court action, only his ward was taught History for the final examination. The same student was the only candidate registered for History in the WAEC/SSCE examinations in the school. The student passed with “A” grade and teaches History in a university today. It seems that the bell of History is ringing again as if unheard for decades. Is this really an awakening? Please, tell us.

But don’t let us miss the point. The youths of some nations are not taught. What you don’t know, may remain unknown unless you learn. Before you learn you might have been misled. So learn the right things on time before you are hurt.

“It was not so” belongs to the past and present.

Do not be misled. Learn your history and reduce ignorance that is at the base of some utterances and bickering.

“It was not so” records have already done it for you. Simply know your history. No reinventing of the wheel.

Imaife.com 04.4/co/2018 ®

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