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IN DEFENCE OF HISTORY

Reflex Eco Group – Ghana News

By Akwasi Agyeman-Dua (Local Journalist & Media and Advocacy Advisor)

This Blog is sponsored by http://www.reflexecogroup.com

History is defined as “The study of past events, particularly in human affairs”. The eminent Kenyan scholar, Professor Ali Mazrui, many years ago (in the early 1970’s) in an article in the “Transition” Pan-African magazine then published in Uganda, wrote, “I am not a historian but like the rest of us, I am a product of history. I therefore take interest in what men have done in the past and the causes and consequences of those past actions”.

He goes on to say that, “Reading our own history is of course, quite fundamental but never enough. We must also read the history of others, discover the sources of their achievements and the causes of their failures”. History in every aspect of life is indispensable in reviewing the past, confronting the present and predicting the future.

History is as old as the beginning of creation and mankind. Its lessons are good for progress and human development. History is about people, men, women and children. It’s about good people and bad people; dictators and philanthropists; sportsmen/women, etc. It is about families, groups and nations. It is about what people have done and may likely repeat in the future. There is a popular axiom which says, “History repeats itself”.

The great good book, the Bible, tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. As a school discipline or social study course, history appears boring to many people. It entails a lot of reading and sometimes memorizing of important dates. However unless anybody or group of persons are serious with their history, they are likely not going to make a serious headway with their future. Mrs Coretta King of the USA was right in saying that “As a nations honours its heroes and heroines, it interprets its history and destines its future”. The USA and many developed countries have very learned history scholars who try to study their country’s past historical issues and document current events. Ghana could sometime ago boast of eminent historians like Professor Adu Boahen and Dr. Kofi Buah. We still have some historians and history scholars working on the quiet in this country. They include Profs. Irene Oddoteye and Akosua Perbi, who are associated with the University of Ghana, Legon. They and others like them ought to be supported in their work of recording the country’s current history.

Scholars and governments in developing countries must review their attitude to the study and utilization of history in advancing national development goals. It has been said that “Experience is a good teacher”. History is full of experiences and the wise person would learn from experience while a fool would not and could thereby suffer serious consequences. History can help shape the values of a family, an organisation, a school or nation. Our educational system must be well-rounded to ensure that we groom our people to compete realistically on the global market as Africans and not as half-baked and seemingly second-rate Westerners.

We all have to consider and confront our history, as individuals or groups of persons, from nations to groups of nations like the ECOWAS, Africa Union or the UN. Always remembering that “It is only the fool who would not learn from experience”. The Ghanaian Akan proverb says, “Tete wo bi ka, tete wo bi kyere” (Literally translated “Our forebears have something to tell us and teach us”). Prof. Ali Mazrui admonishes that “We study history in order to understand ourselves. But we should also study it to be wiser, more humane, less rash, certainly less brutal and often with an eye on the future”. “A word to the wise is enough”, so said the wise old man/woman in your village and mine.

AKWASI AGYEMAN-DUA

P.O. Box C991

Cantonments, Accra

GHANA

E-mail: aadua061@yahoo.com

Accra

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