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Rotimi Bello: Restoration of History subject to school curriculum: What are we waiting for?

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Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu

By Rotimi Bello

Many people do not know the reasons why History subject was removed from our national curriculum in the first instance. The planned restoration of History into the primary and secondary school curriculum will go down in history as one of the salient achievements of this present administration because our children will be made to connect with their distant past – a past that was ignorantly tossed off for no cogent reason-and pave way for the future.

There is a strong connection between the past, present, and future. For one to understand the present unfolding event, one needs an insightful peep into past historical events in preparation for tomorrow. For more than a decade that History subject was removed from our schools, substantial numbers of our youth have been technically disconnected from Nigeria’s rich histories of past progenitors and their struggle with their neighbors, invaders, and imperialists.

The exploits of our past leaders who were indefatigable defenders of their peoples must be dug out and comprehensively packaged by the historians to be imparted into our children as a way of providing vista on the present problems and as a binocular to visualize the future.

Stories that are common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources, are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends because they do not show the “disinterested investigation” required of the discipline of history.

It is in the realization of the import of history that Lord Bryon said that “the best prophet of the future is the past.”

The Federal Ministry of Education needs to enforce government directive of restoring “History subject” to both private and public schools across the country. Some school owners are hell-belt in frustrating the government directive by turning deaf ear as if it doesn’t matter.

History is the lost aspect of our values that have been consigned to the dustbin by those who see nothing good in our past. History is the study of past events, particularly in human affairs. These whole series of past events are connected one way or another to a particular person or thing. History is a continuous, typical chronological record of important or public event or a particular trend or institution.

A country without history is a failed country. The two leading holy books, Quran and Bible, are historical records from God revealed to man and comparatively kept intact by the successive generations for the preservation of the past events and as compasses to navigate the future.

An average U.S student may not be able to locate Nigeria on the atlas. But a quite preponderance of them know and understand American history as they know the back of their palm. For the preservation of American history, an office is dedicated to it christened as “Office of the Historian” United States Department of State. Trust the Yankees, the website is loaded with all historical facts about their country and its people.

This singular act makes an average Americans pompous and confident. They are filled with an extreme form of patriotism marked by a feeling of superiority over other citizens. This is very apparent in their carriage and disposition even in the public arena. While an average American student speaks with pride about their history. African students, especially Nigerians, can be said to know virtually nothing about the history of their past. From primary to secondary schools in the US, History subject is compulsory for all learners in Science, Arts and Commercial classes.

We should be bold enough to revisit our past and values. We must not shy away from our sour point. As a people who share common values, historical background, similar heritage, and destiny, we should let our children understand our historical shortcomings and be ready to synthesize and discuss the grey areas. Where our progenitors got it right, we should build on, and endeavor to work on our perceived weak points.

Nigeria’s civil war, an integral part of our history, is replete with both negative and positive effects which must be explored for national integration and development, and to guide against future disintegration. The history of Biafra ingenuity and invention of local-made weapons like multi-barrel “ogbunigwe”, anti-personnel land mines, improvised explosive devices, Ojukwu anti-mines, anti-tank mines and Ojukwu mortar produced while the war was on, are all worth reading by our present and future generation.

History is like a living organism that procreates for continuity. Thus, our history is surely intertwined with our future. If our progenitors could build great empires and Kingdoms (Kanem-Bornu Empire, Oyo Empire, Benin kingdom, Kingdom of Nri, Zauzau kingdom and Jukun kingdom) in the past, then we can as well build a great country that will be the cynosure of all eyes.

Revisiting past mistakes or policies not properly done and implemented is the best way to assuage a better future for our children and great-grandchildren who will inherit this space called Nigeria. Narrating and telling our history is the road to greatness. So let us start doing that since the Federal government has promised to reopen the dim vista of the past.

Rotimi S. BELLO wrote this piece from Abuja via rotimibello_69@yahoo.com