INTERNATIONALISATION OF HIGHER EDUCATION – THE AFRICAN EXPERIENCE AND PERSPECTIVE: A CULTURAL/DEVELOPMENTAL APPRAISAL. RELEVANT DEVELOPMENT, GLOBALIZATION AND NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY: FACT OR FANCY?
Internationalization is almost synonymous to saying welcome to the global village on the space ship earth. As major village properties, people know themselves, information is fast in getting across and the survival of one is the survival of all. Genuine concern of one by the other and all is the operative principle. The mode, goal and end of education-civilization in the village, is the development of the one and the all, as all cannot survive without the one and the once cannot survive without the all.
The issues here raised therefore are these: Has the African experience hither to on internationalization especially of higher education, been one of Development? Really what is the African developmental perspective of higher Education? What are the options for the future?
To achieve the above, a look has been taken at the Nigerian Experience in the realm of Higher Education and the accruing development especially on a religious-cultural dimension. The Yorùbá system called Àkòdì has been used as a proverbial principle that must be learnt from in answering even relevant questions on higher Education.
II. SOME CONCEPT DEFINITIONS
This is expected to be an interactive relation between nations such that the nations are benefited and developments able to meet the needs of the nations involved. Internationalisation should not be a hidden agenda by any nation A to enslave or paralyse the other nation B. Internationalisation should make the nations involved cooperators to genuine development in all nations involved. Internationalisation should make cooperation, exchange and development bi-lateral genuine, permanent and adaptable. Where bi-lateral internationalization leads to the poverisation-pauperisation of one nation and to the inflated propensity of the other is not fair internationalization. Removing all factors contributing to such should the hearts desire of African Higher Education.
(b) Higher Education
This is the problem solving institution of the world. It is the research nerve of any serious nation and the solution factory to all human problems. At the national level, higher Education should develop local initiative and raw material innovative conversion and conservation. Self employment, resulting in employment of labour through creation of small and medium scale local industries should be the motivated goal of all higher educated persons regardless of the discipline. Dignity of labour, where all higher education products are willing and ready to work with their lands as well as their brains, and allow adequate gestation period for success should be part of the norms for appraising higher Education.
This should be an existential time involvement that results in learning of some kind. Where learning has not taken place as to result in development, then such should be regarded as non-experience. In this sense a working factory bench machine or robot cannot be said to have experience regardless of the number of years for which it runs. If history has taught us that history has not taught us anything in many human cases, then experience without development is a failed experience.
This is a well defined geographical entity with countries, nations and immense natural endowment. Africa, as a concept, often connotes many other unpleasantries however to a very large extent. There are many negative impressions that have been propagandized across the world, up to point where many Africans, do not really know who they are and the potentials within them. The slavery of the African this time around, are through a conspiracy of many high sounding ideologies dressed in clocks of assistance, lottery visa, brain drain and transfer of technology. As a concept, Africa must self actualize her needs and resources. The vantage point for the war to be won in the future is through dedication of Africa to higher education. Frantz Fanon becomes very relevant in this concept along with many others.
Hitherto, some concept definitions have been given in internationaliation, higher education, Experience and Africa. These are not too comprehensive as not to loose focus of the paper, but the concept definitions been given are needed relevant background. The last concept to be considered is Development.
Development should mean finding solutions to the problems of life within an environment in such a way that basic human needs are readily and easily met within the environment under an atmosphere of peace an respect to life. But no true development can be achieved without religion. This is because all people participate in religion of one kind or the other.
A sage of old said that man is a religious animal while another asserted that religion is all of life to the African. In everything the African, if not mankind as a whole, is religious. (Idowu 1976, p.5,6). In other words African development cannot and should not be contemplated without
putting a major slice of consideration on the aspect of life that is truly controlling all that are involved-Religion. It is from this perspective that a concept involving both culture and religion, within the African context- Àkòdì among the Yorùbá in Nigeria is here used as a proverbial paradigm for what the African perspective on higher education should be. It is the principle of total acceptance and involvement.
III. ÀKÒDÌ, A CULTURAL - RELIGIOUS - CASE STUDY
One of the many roles of religion in its essence is the call for total acceptance, hence peace within humanity. This call for total acceptance at the turn of the new millennium is very crucial in the face of crises, and conflict all around in the global village. The practice of total acceptance, wherever it could be found, could therefore serve as a model for the rest of humanity to borrow a leaf from. The practice of total acceptance of humanity, an ideal religious maxim, is found in at least the Àkòdì system of living among the Yorùbá. This work therefore recommends the positive values of Àkòdì as one of the roles that religion must perform within humanity in order to bring more peace to humanity. The context of the study is the Yorùbá culture and religion, while the intended scope of application is the global village. The methodology in use here is to look at different bits of the topic and draw conclusion that could be recommended to the global humanity.
A. Religious Maxims
Religious maxims are general truth, proverbs, rule of conduct, principles, (Foreman 1968 p. 320) behaviours, norms and moral teachings which are found in religions. The problem however at this stage is the word religion itself. Religion should not be used as a blanket word which may not convey any precise meaning. It therefore becomes very necessary to define religion especially within this context.
B. Definition of Religion
Religion is the human quest for God. It is the search or response to God, god, Gods, gods, GOD or GODS by man. The content, form and practice of the quest (called religion) is designed, directed, delivered, diverted and derailed by man himself, (Popoola 1996).
The exercise of listing all the possible definitions or religion is not the goal of this paper. The exercise has been done by too many writers the world over. (Berry 1964; Idowu 1976; and Awolalu 1979; are some of the many books that have relevant sections on definition of religion). It could be said here that religion includes reverence, piety, the personal commitment to and serving of God, god, gods, Gods, GOD or GODS with worshipful devotion. It includes conduct in accord with divine commands. It also includes a system or systems of faith and worship in its many faces like the spiritual, organizational and financial. It is a personal awareness or conviction of the existence of a supreme being or of supreme beings or of supernatural powers or influence controlling ones humanity, nature or destiny. Religion is a cause, principle or system of tenets held with adoration, devotion, conscientiousness and faith. It is a value of supreme importance in life, death and beyond. (Webster, Vol. II, P. 1918b).
It must be stated that many people in the practice of religion are just religionary; that is, their vocation is religion while others are religioner or religionist. The religionist is earnestly devoted and attached to religion. In a sense, the religionist could almost be regarded as a zealot or a fanatic. In another way, some people can be called “religiose” excessively, obtrusively or sentimentally religious. The effort here is to attempt a definition of religion as to cover the possible spectrum of religious exposure and experiences. I have attempted to sum it up thus: religion means a three point issue or phenomenon A, B and C, where A is related to C through B. A is a person or being, B is a form of relation like belief, conduct, faith, trust etc. and C is a super being, God or god.
In other words Religion is A function B to C. (This is Jemiriye’s definition that attempts to simplify the many long winded expressions called definition of religion. The signs used are of no full geometric identity).
The attempt to define religion as done is not to loose sight of the topic – Àkòdì - but rather to ground the topic in a comprehensive religious milieu. The gear can now be shifted to some of the religious maxims.
C. Some Religious Maxims
Truth, justices, love and good works are some of the universal religious maxims that are subscribed to by most of the religions of the world. This work wants to focus on just an aspect of love – acceptance, from whatever possible list could be put out as religious maxims.
There are many operative words that depict one aspect of love or the other. Such include, care, forgiveness, tolerance, concern and acceptance. It is the view of this writer that the actual practical operative word for love is acceptance. This is why acceptance becomes the operative word in the attempt to find a role model for religion in the global village.
In other words, the role of religion is to provide acceptance for humanity. Religion must work relentlessly to remove the inhumanity of man to man under any guise; be it piety, playing god to another person or American visa lottery which is the modernized slavery without the option or possibility of reparation. It is this acceptance that is here claimed to have existed in Àkòdì long before the twenty-first century. It is the acceptance that the twenty-first century may unwillingly and unwittingly destroy if care is not taken. It is the call to the Àkòdì consciousness that is now to be explored.
D. Àkòdì in Yorùbá Community
Àkòdì is a Yorùbá word that depicts a people’s practical living of total acceptance. The word in itself does not seems to be much until the concept it stands for it adequately examined and exposed. This is therefore an attempt to show the concepts embedded within the Àkòdì system and to recommend the principle of total acceptance that is stands for as a necessary and possible in-road to world peace. In order to reveal the deep concept that Àkòdì cibtaubs, the word is here discussed in stages. The first stage defines the word, exposes the architectural configuration and the physical structure of the Àkòdì. The second stage looks at the sociology of the people living in the Àkòdì. Here the composition of the people, their political setting, the economic setting, and the religious setting are examined. The third state evaluates the Àkòdì crisis management principle and establishes the relationship between the survival of one and the survival of all. Stage four is the conclusion and it shows that survival stands for acceptance, for peace and for continuity.
(ii) Definition of Àkòdì
Àkòdì is a Yorùbá word that has etymological definition as well as a concept representation definition. Etymologically, Àkòdì is a combination of five alphabets – three vowels A, O, I, and two consonants K and D. The word Àkòdì could be broken into “Ako” and “Odi”. Ako means “hard” or “male” and Odi means wall or boundary. Odi could also mean “deaf” – a deaf person. Àkòdì as a combination of Ako and Odi is possible and explainable in the sense that the coming together of o – o in Ako – Odi to give o alone in Àkòdì is a contraction. The vowel contraction at the coming together of two vowels into one is a common phenomenon in Yorùbá language.
From the concept representation point of view, the meanings portrayed by Ako and Odi are all contained in what Àkòdì stands for. The physical structure of Àkòdì and the architectural configuration of Àkòdì show that the concepts represented by the component words Ako and Odi are well grounded in Àkòdì. The conceptual definitions of Àkòdì is shown in the following to one degree or the other.
(iii) Physical Structure of Àkòdì
The physical structure of Àkòdì is a building of a special type. Like most buildings (if not all buildings), it is made of natural objects. The walls are often built from moulded earth and the roof is often of thatch leaves or, recently, pan with woods as rafter. All the materials are hard and in a sense could be regarded as “Ako nkan” – translated “Hard Materials”. There is the view that “A ki I fi nkan yepere kole, Ohun ti o le ni a fi nko ile”.Translated: “People do not use soft or cheap things in building.
Rather people use hard, tough and lasting things – objects in building”.
Thus Àkòdì as a building must be tough, and sturdy as to be able to stand the strain of weather and the test of time.
(iv) Composition of People in the Àkòdì
One Àkòdì normally occupies all the members in a family clan. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the lazy, the hard working, the super lazy drone and the workaholic all live together in the same Àkòdì. Even the mad – insane, lunatic – person is accommodated in the Àkòdì. This possibly explains the existence of the saying in Yorùbá:“Ori were ita ni a se ni were ile”
Translated: “It is because of the mad man (or bad man)
outside that you keep or have mad man (bad man) inside”
Thus in the Àkòdì all kinds of people are fully accommodated, known, noted and accepted for what ever the individual is and encouraged to fulfil his/herself as best in the common interest of all within the Àkòdì. The lazy man, while often rebuked is still accommodated in the Àkòdì. The saying “Ogbon inu ole ni ole nje”, translated “It is the cleverness or cunningness of the lazy man that he is eating – living on” shows the level of acceptance or at the least toleration given to even the lazy person.
The only person that is not tolerated in the Àkòdì is the thief. Stealing is abhorred within the Àkòdì. Within children, pilfering is punished and discouraged in many ways. By the time a young person becomes a full professional thief such a person is either killed or exiled from the Àkòdì for life.
In the Àkòdì the aged, the just born babe and all in the different grades and levels of life live together. The organization is such that there is a family clan head -usually a man, and all men in the Àkòdì are responsible to him. There is equally a head mother - an old woman to whom all the women are responsible. Duties like filling the water-pot in the quadrangle with water is the responsibility of the young women and girls in the Àkòdì under the monitoring of the head woman.
Within the Àkòdì there are all sorts of family relationships that include father, mother, children, uncles, cousins, half brothers, half sisters and such like. All the relationships in the male domain could be summed up as “Egbon or Aburo” meaning “Senior brother” or “Junior brother” as the whole clan is regarded as just a family.
In essence, the composition within the Àkòdì is based on acceptance by all for all, as well as of the individual by the individual. Even when strangers have to live in the Àkòdì, such persons are integrated and accepted into the Àkòdì by the one and by the all. Apart from the composition of the people in the Àkòdì the economic and religious setting within the Àkòdì equally point to the philosophy of acceptance as the principle of survival of all.
(v) Economic and Religious Setting Within the Àkòdì
The economic principle of the ancient Àkòdì is based on practical survival principles. Selfishness is abhorred while hard work is encouraged, praised and recommended. Economic interests include full gainful employment, mainly farming. This is supplemented by the clan’s needs hence jobs like “Agbede” – the smith, “Ayan” the drummers, “Oja” market and such like are in the Àkòdì. Ostentatious life style are not common in the Àkòdì as the survival of all is the survival of the individual.
The religious setting in the Àkòdì is totally absorbed in the entire activity of the Àkòdì. As rightly put by Idowu about the Yorùbá – “In all things, they are religious. Religion forms the foundation and the all-governing principle of life for them.” (Idowu, 1975 p.5). Thus in the Àkòdì religion penetrates all of the people’s live – economic or otherwise.
There are periodic religious festive celebrations like “Odun Ijesu” – new yam eating festival, “Ikore” – harvest, and such others. There are also local prescribed religious celebrations or sacrifice given to individuals often by the Baba awo – the Chief priest. All such festivals and celebrations are done in the spirit of survival for the all and the one in the Àkòdì. This then leads to the need to evaluate the Àkòdì crisis management principle and hence establish the survival of all as the survival of one.
(vi) Evaluation of Àkòdì Crisis Management Principles
The Àkòdì has its crisis. The crisis include defending the clan against outside aggressions as well as solving internal misunderstandings and problems.
The main management principle used in the Àkòdì is that of acceptance, there by, making maximum use of the one and the all. The Àkòdì depends on every one in the system to contribute his/her best to the survival of the system. The Àkòdì accepts the best of each person. The single water pot illustrates in very clear terms that “we either all survive together or we all die together”. In the days of old, the identity of the one was the identity of the Àkòdì and clan. What one has is what all have. Individual possessiveness was not the practice. This was properly illustrated in the days of the rediffusion. Only one was in the Àkòdì, and the one was put in the open square under the tree. No one stole it. Crisis of information, up-dating, projection and decision in direction, were all solved collectively – often by the elders.
The principles thus called into play include:
(iv) knowing that the survival of all is the survival of the one
(v) knowing that if the Àkòdì or community does not survive no individual in the Àkòdì or community will survive.
Acceptance is the clue to solving all problems in the Àkòdì.
This is illustrated in the saying “Baba ti ko binu ni omo re npo” meaning “It is the father that is not angry that has many children” – in other words, it is the father that is tolerant, that accepts all that has a large Àkòdì. In this sense many children or large Àkòdì implies strength, confidence and unity. These are the crisis management principles involved in the life of the Àkòdì.
(vii) Conclusion of the Àkòdì in Yorùbá Community
It can now be said that Àkòdì is a comprehensive concept that illustrates acceptance as the main survival strategy. It is the acceptance that generates peace. It also guarantees continuity of the community.
IV. FINAL APPRAISAL
The question could now be asked; what is this paper really on? Higher Education or Àkòdì?
The solution is both. The fact of the proverb is that the reality in the Nigerian Universities is more of fancy. It is virtually in all ramifications. The natural endowments are many. Man power is unlimited and the odds as in the Àkòdì are surmountable. Àkòdì as a concept is the language of higher education. Like the screen cover of the computer it must be deciphered. It will suffice to say here that until all the stake holders in higher education accept their joint participatory responsibility from a purely indigenous African perspective and are ready to put in their maximum input and participation the results will be in decreasing order from whatever today holds in stock.
REFERENCESAwolalu, J. O. Yorùbá Beliefs and Sacrificial Rites, Longman, London, 1979. <
Berry, C. G. Religions of the World Barnes and Noble Inc. N. Y. 1964.
Foreman, J. B. (Ed.) New Gem Dictionary, Collins, London and Glasgow 1968.
Frantz Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth Translated by Constance Farrington, New York, Grove Press Inc., 1968 Black skin white mask. New York, Grove Press Inc., 1967.
Gove, P. B. (Ed.) Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, of the English Language Unabridged G & C Merriam Company, Springfield, U.S.A. 1971.
Idowu, B. African Traditional Religion: A Definition, SCM Press Ltd., London, 1976.
Popoola A & Co (Ed.) Ondo State in Perspective. Ondo State Government, 1996. p. 110-117 Text of a lecture delivered at Cultural Centre Akure on 24th January 1996, by Jemiriye T. F. “Religions and Development of Ondo State,” p. 2
For a list of other Dr. Jemiriye's Seminar Papers, click on this link: Seminar Papers