CHAPTER3 BLYDENS CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION IN AFRICA (1832-1912)
In Chapter 1 the background relating to the contributions ofBlyden, Carr and Nyerere towards educational change was fully pr:esented. This included a detailed discussion of the reasons for their meaningful contributions. In this and the next two chapters the contributions of these three educational thinkers will receive attention respectively.
Edward Wilmot Blyden has been specifically chosen to form part of this thesis on educational innovation in Africa because ofthe relevance of his life and ideas to the fundamental problems of his race and those that still exist in West Africa and the rest of Africa today. He attended to the problems of race superiority which affected black education in Africa during the 19th and the early 20th centuries. The ideas he gave attempted to dispel the myth of the European people about the inferiority of the African. His attempt to advance ideas which could improve education for the African, made him respected and participant in the world of community of nations (Lynch 1971: Introduction).
He was further chosen on the grounds that among the many individuals in West Africa, he tried to solve the problem of the identity of the African. Blyden could be regarded as the most important person who W’llht the attention ofthe West Africans in an attempt to deal with this problem. He dealt with the problem as a citizen and public servant of the republic ofLiberia. The problem arose because ofthe intrusion of Europeans in West Africa and it was dealt with throughout the 19th and 20th centuries in a variety of ways by the West Africans. They were dissatisfied with. aroona others. these matters: the intrusion of western ideas and institutions; the introduction of western cultures, reliiiona etc. (July 1968:209).
Blyden became the first personality to try and succeed in making a total philosophy of Africanness which re-~stablished the psychic and emotional security of the African (Ibid. 1968:210).
He further emerged as a West African patriot with strong ideas which constituted an African reaction to European pressures. His educational ideas. therefore, also focused much on education as a way of dealing with these pressures. He wrote much on education and could be called one of the twentieth century educational thinkers (July 1968:210 & Akinpelu 1981:89).
The ideas of a personality like Blyden are worth reviewing in an educational innovation in Africa, more especially that they are concerned with the matters which need to be changed if there is educational innovation, namely, the aim, curriculum, methods of teaching and the type of education.
Edward Wilmot Blyden’s contributions can be well understood ifit is known to the readers that he was a litterateur, classist, theoloW,an, politician, statesman, diplomat and explorer. All of his life Blyden was an educator. He was a brilliant influential and controversial West Indian born Liberian and he spent the whole of his life directing and justifying his race that is, Africans in West Africa (Lynch 1967:Preface).
During his time, Blyden realized the need for cultural .reciprocity between Europe and Africa. This was non-existent and instead thereof there was the European political domination of the 19th century to which Blyden was opposed (Livingston 1975:Introduction).
To Blyden, one way of :fighting against such domination was to write about Negritude, which was an intellectual revolt of the black, colonized people against European civilization. Through Negritude Blyden could indicate that the black race differs from other races and it is proud of its people’s unique qualities including blackness. His educational ideas were thus meant to meet the needs of these people. He further saw the need for appropriate education in developing their qualities and a feeling of race pride which were largely undermined by the European civilization (Bennaars [ et al.] 1994: 17 & July 1964:71 ).
The discussion ofBlyden’s contributions will be preceded by his detailed biography and the discussion of his contact with the international world, in this order. His biography (1832-1912) is divided into three main life activities, namely, early childhood and educational career. occupational life, retirement and death. And his contact began in 1877 when he was appointed the first black Liberia’s ambassador to Britain, by President James S. Payne. His contact also involved political and educational activities. Politically he was an ambassador or Liberian Diplomat. He interacted between Liberia and Sierra Leone. Educationally. while doing diplomacy work he was still Principal of Alexander High School. Blyden also served as President of Liberia College. His contact with the international world came to an end when he retired and later died in 1912. His biography is discussed subsequently.
BLYDEN’S EARLY CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATIONAL CAREER, 1832-1850
Edward Wilmot Blyden was born on August 3, 183 2 in Charlotte Amalie, the capital city ofthe Danish West Indies Island (Virgin Island) of St. Thomas. Both ofBlyden’s parents were literate and emancipated blacks. His father, Romeo, was a tailor and his mother, Judith, a school teacher. Blyden was the third of seven children in this family which lived in a predominantly Jewish and English-speaking community. His parents were of~ ~ (Afiican) ancestry whose exact African ancestry was difficult to identify. This was due to the fact that people who lived in St. Thomas came from various tribes, namely, the Fula, Madinga, Konga, Mangree, Amina, Akkim, Tambi, Sakko, Bibi, Loango, Mandongo and Congo. Blyden claimed to belong to the Ibo tribe in eastern Nigeria (Livingston 1975:15 & Lynch 1967:3; Jones 1964:56).
Blyden’s family was affiliated to the Dutch Reformed Church. Although Blyden attended the local school, his mother offered him private tuition. When he was ten in 1842, their family left for Porto Bello in Venezuela. Within two years of the family’s stay in this new environment, Blyden showed great linguistic skills by learning and speaking Spanish fluently. In 1844 the family returned home and Blyden observed that the majority of the Negroes (black people) were in slayezy in St. Thomas and in Venezuela too. and that they lived exploited and degraded lives. On his return from Porto Bello, Blyden could only attend school in the morning since the afternoon was reserved for his five-year apprenticeship for tailorship with his father (Lynch 1967:4).
In 1845, Rev. John Pray Knox, a white American pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church, who came to stay in St. Thomas for health reasons, greatly influenced Blyden’s life. Knox chose to be Blyden’s mentor for he was impressed by the fact that Blyden was studious and ptous. Knox also encouraged Blyden’s natural ability for oratory and literature. Blyden decided to become a clergyman and this is probably due to close association with Knox. The decision was fully supported by his parents (Lynch 1967:4).
In May 1850, Blyden in company with Mrs Knox went to the United States where attempts were made to enrol him in Rutgers’ Theological College, Knox’s alma mater. He was turned down because he was a Newo. Further efforts to enrol him in two other theological colleges were also unsuccessful. This disappointed him greatly. In the same year the Fugitive Slave Law, which gave the Federate commissioners unrestricted powers to apprehend and return runaway slaves, came into operation. Because of this law Blyden lived in fear ofbeing unscrupulously seized as a runaway slave (Ibid. 1967:5; Shepperson 1960:299; Sillah 1990: 1-5).
While still in the States, Blyden noticed the way in which the Negroes were politically, socially and economically discriminated against. He also saw that the status of blacks was lowly and uncertain (Lynch 1978:4).
During his stay in the United States, Blyden came into contact with the prominent Presbyterians such as John B. Pinny, Walter Lowrie and William Coopinger. These men were associated with the Negro emancipation movement. In collaboration with the Knoxes they assisted Blyden to plan his near future.
Two factors, namely, fear of being seized as a runaway slave and discrimination, caused Blyden to decide to return to St. Thomas. Since Blyden was sensitive and race proud. he could not bear such circumstances. Blyden’s colonization friends also told him of Liberia’s becoming independent in 1847 and they also argued that it needed persons like him to grow into a vigorous nation. This idea appealed to him very greatly and on 21 December 1850 he accepted an offer from the New York Colonization Society to return to Liberia. The acceptance was due to the fact that his opportunities to return home were very limited, for he would first emigrate to Canada and then waited for another best opportunity, that i~ free from arrest, made for him by the abolitionist to proceed further (Lynch 1967:6).
Back from the United States, Blyden continued his education at the Alexander High School in Monrovia, Liberia (Livingston 1975:22-23).
Blyden became concerned in politics as a West African Pan-Africanist. An explanation of his activities regarding this position, is given below.
BLYDEN AS WEST AFRICAN, PAN-AFRICANIST, 1851-1877
Over the period 1851-1877, Blyden established himself as the leading West African, ~ African intellectual activist. Although Blyden lived in St. Thomas, in 1851 he fulfilled his desire to emigrate to Liberia. This country had by then become an independent state on 26 July 1847. Most of the American Negroes became interested in Liberia after its independence. As a consequence the number of emigrants increased drastically from 51 in 184 7 to 441 in 1848. This rate was maintained even some ten years thereafter. The majority of the emigrants were illiterate, poverty-stricken, unskilled and ignorant of the government. Most of the emigrants were free Negroes. Amongst them there were educated men and artisans. A few emigrated with property (Livingston 1975:22-23).
In Liberia Blyden was involved in a number of activities which were meant to elevate the Negro nation from the status of illiteracy. poverty, lack of skill and ignorance mentioned in the previous paragraph. It was therefore Blyden’s intention to enhance the prestige of these Negroes and to educate them. His stay in Liberia was thus also intended to assist in building the i.ruiependent Negro nation which could be proud to demonstrate its capability.
Hereunder follows the discussions of his activities in Liberia as well as his position as a West African, Pan-African intellectual activist between 1851 and 1861.
-The period 1851-1861
On his arrival in Liberia in 1851, Blyden realized that he ought to prepare himself thoroughly for a leadership role in Liberia. According to him this was the task which required intensive intellectual training. In his preparation, Blyden carried out various activities. He read British and American newspapers and journals on current affairs outside Liberia. He appealed to continue his study for a further two-year period at one of the theolowcal colleges in the United States. This would make liim a well qualified Presbyterian Minister. His appeal was turned down. The next step: for Blyden was to seek interesting correspondents in England, namely, his ex-teacher and clergyman, Rev. Henry Melvill, a former Principal of East India College, Haileybury and Canon of St. Paul’s. Blyden also contacted W.E. Gladstone who was the British Chancellor of the Exchequer with whom he shared the similar views of free trade and also had mutual interest in classical literature (Lynch 196 7: 14).
As a way of preparing himself for leadership, Blyden received training as a clergyman and school teacher at Alexander High School. Because of this in 1858 he was ordained a Presbyterian pastor and appointed principal of the Alexander High School where he served up to 1861 (Lynch 1978: 5).
Furthermore from 1862 to 1870 as an educator and a state secretary, Blyden was involved in the following activities:
-The period 1862-1870
Over the period 1862-1870 Blyden occupied several positions in Liberia. He was elected Professor of Greek and Latin in the Liberia College. 1861-1871. This was indicated in his letter to the Right Honourable W.E. Gladstone, on 16 April 1862. Blyden also held the positions of Liberian Secretary of State, 1864-1866 and a Presbyterian clergyman at Monrovia and Junk.
It is important to note that Blyden as Professor of the College sousht to make its curriculum relevant to the needs and circumstances of Africans. He also introduced the subject Arabic in the curriculum with the aim of facilitating communication between the Republic and the Muslim states of its hinterland. Blyden noticed the problem of lack of library facilities at the College and to solve this he ordered additional books of Gladstone and Brougham. He improved his knowledge of the Arabic language by studying further at the Syrian Protestant College in Lebanon in 1866 (Lynch 1978: 5, 54-57).
As Liberian Secretary of State in 1864-1866, Blyden sought without success to end the boundary dispute between Liberia and Sierra Leone and this led to the failure to attract Negro emigrants from America.
Blyden served in various positions simultaneously. This he did apparently for money and patriotic reasons. For instance, in 1866 he was Secretary, pastor and professor at the college (Ibid. 1978:54-55).
-The period 1871-1873
On 5 May 1871 Blyden was compelled to flee to Sierra Leone where he worked up to 1873. This was due to two reasons: Firstly, he was charged with adultery with the Liberia President’s wife. Secondly, the published article “On Mixed Races” in Liberia in the 1870 Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution, made him unpopular with the Mulattoes [The coloured people in Liberia]. He criticized the latter race by stating their genetic inferiority, which resulted in a waste of funds on educating them because they died young. On the same day he was nearly killed when a mob of mulatto-incited, poverty stricken and ignorant blacks, dragged him through Monrovia streets with a rope around his neck and would have lynched him. He was saved by his old friend D.B. Warner, the ex-President (Livingston 1975:81).
While in Sierra Leone. Blyden advocated cultural nationalism in a number of ways. He strongly recommended the following to the Sierra Leone government: That peace in the unsettled hinterland be maintained; that the Christian missionary operations be extended to Sierra Leone; that Europeans open stations and establish schools among the needy and anxious people – though he was aware of the harmful effect of European sectarianism and arrogance on Africa. In 1872 Blyden launched and edited a newspaper called ”Negro” which was meant to lead the people of Sierra Leone (a colony) towards understanding their mission (Lynch 1978:82-83).
-The period 1873-1877
During the period 1873-1877, Blyden concentrated on educational work in the interior ofLiberia. He was reappointed as principal of Alexander High School which was then relocated at Harrisburg on the St. Paul river. On his resettling in 1874, he was disappointed with the state of the education system which could be described as “falling into decay”. For this he blamed the Liberian government which was stupid and inefficient (Lynch 1978:148).
Over the same period, Blyden was critical about foreign missionary and educational work. He would like, for instance, the Presbyterian Church to pay more attention to the educational work. He further started to review the idea of foreign and female education. The former was regarded as unnecessary iflocal institutions could be available and for the latter it was sought to attach it to Alexander High School (Ibid. 1978: 149-160).
BLYDEN IN CONTACT WITH THE INTERNATIONAL WORLD, 1877-1910
In addition to what has already been stated regarding Blyden’s contacts with the international world, it can be said below that his travels which were mainly from Liberia to the United States and Britain were for economic and social reasons.
BLYDEN AS LffiERIAN AMBASSADOR TO BRITAIN, 1877-1879
Blyden as Ambassador of Liberia was requested by the President, J.S. Payne to sail to England in July 1877. He stayed there for a year and his diplomatic goals were to settle the boundary diSJ)ute between Liberia and Sierra Leone and persuade the British capitalists to invest in a railway from Monrovia to the inside of Liberia and to support the coffee a&Dcultural scheme he intended to establish (Livingston 1978: 11 0; Lynch 1967: 177). The decision to establish a coffee scheme came as one of the means to develop Liberia economically and educationally. Such a scheme would serve as a source of employment and income for the country. Poverty could also be reduced and the people be able to receive education. The scheme could also permit indigenization of the Liberian education since such education would ori&Wate from the local conditions rather than be inherited and imposed from overseas. Blyden hoped that economic growth would in turn support educational growth.
Due to regular flights to England and United States, Blyden was away from Alexander High School most of the time. It was suspected, though incorrectly, to be the main cause for the school’s inability to flourish. This could further be proved incorrect by the fact that the school collapsed after Blyden’s resignation in 1878 (Livingston 1978:111 ).
Blyden again served for the second time as Liberian Ambassador to Britain in 1892. This lasted for five months. In 1905 he was again ambassador to Britain and this time also to France for another five months (Lynch 1978:8).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 AN APPROACH TO THE PROBLEM OF EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION IN AFRICA
1.2 SITUATING THE PROBLEM
1.3 THE AIM AND ACTUALITY OF THE RESEARCH
1.4 THE FIELD OF STUDY
1.5 APPROACHES AND METHODS
1.6 CLARIFICATION OF THE TITLE ..
1.7 CLARIFICATION OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CONCEPTS
1.10 A COMPARISON BETWEEN THE EUROPEAN WORLD VIEW AND THE AFRICAN WORLDVIEW
1.11 LITERATURE REVIEW
1.12 SEQUENCE OF CHAPTERS
CHAPTER2 FACTORS WHICH INHmiT AFRICAN INTELLECTUAL AND EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION
2.2 LffiERATION OF THE OPPRESSED AND POLITICS OF FEAR OR CONFORMISM
2.3 THE TYRANNICAL CUSTOM OF AFRICAN CULTURE
2.4 THE ABSENCE OF SCIENTIFIC TIITNKING
2.5 THE AFRICAN CULTURE EXIDBITS AN ABILITY TO RESIST CHAN”GE
CHAPTER3 BL YDEN’S CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION IN AFRICA (1832-1912)
3.2 BL YDEN’S CONTRIBUTION TO VARIOUS EDUCATIONAL MATTERS
3.3 A CRITICAL REVIEW OF BL YDEN’S CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARDS EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION IN AFRICA
CHAPTER4 CARR’S CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION IN AFRICA (1863-1945)
4.2 CARR’S CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS VARIOUS EDUCATIONAL MATTERS
4.3 A CRITICAL REVIEW OF CARR’S CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARDS EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION IN AFRICA
CHAPTERS 5. NYERERE’S CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION IN
AFRICA (BORN 1922- )
5.2 NYERERE’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO VARIOUS EDUCATIONAL MATTERS
5.3 A CRITICAL REVIEW OF NYERERE’S CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARDS EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION IN AFRICA
6. AN ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION OF THE CONTRIBUTION OF BL YDEN, CARR AND NYERERE TOWARDS EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION IN AFRICA
6.2 AN ANALYSIS OF THE AFRICAN SITUATION FROM THE WORKS OF BL YDEN, CARR AND NYERERE
6.4 FINAL ASSESSMENT
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT