Zik on Education

“The African should go beyond the veneer of knowledge. Ability to quote Shakespeare or Byron or Chaucer does not indicate original scholarship. The capacity to know what the periphrastic conjunction is, or to solve the Pythagorean problem, or understand the principle of heat, light and sound, or to translate Aramaic, or to know the important dates of British history, does not indicate true academic scholarship. These are the superficialities of a decadent educational system. These do not make for a dynamic social order. They are by-products of the imitation complex which Gabriel Tarde expounds excellently in one of his books.

Originality is the essence of true scholarship. Creativity is the soul of true scholar. Initiative, emulation and the urge to be intellectually honest are the earmarks of research and academic freedom. Heirs and heiresses of the New Africa must now consecrate themselves for scholarly research into all aspects of world society in general and Africa in particular.”

– Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (Excerpt from a speech delivered at the Methodist Boys’ High School, Lagos, in November, 1934, on his return from the United States en-route to Onitsha, his home town).

Postscript: How far have we come, what has changed in 82 years? When, and how can we change?

Find the rest of the speech here, if you will.

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