In The Nation of Tuesday, January 2013 there was a heading ‘Secondary school curriculum review necessary’, under which the principal secretary Dr Anjimile Mtila-Oponyo is said to have pointed out the necessity of reviewing the secondary school curriculum.
This is welcome news. Those taking part in the discussions may wish to take note of a German maxim as quoted by Dr Robert Laws of Livingstonia: “What you want to see in the country, first put it in its schools.”
What do we want to see happening in Malawi? We want Malawi to see fast economic development which is the foundation for higher living standards, better education and health. This is the maternal side of life.
We also want moral development in which I include upholding the traditional morals of the country as modified by religious beliefs. The school should imbue students with patriotism, love of one’s country.
To be a patriot, you do not have to be a politician or a soldier. In any chosen field, you can practise patriotism. I remember sometime ago reading an essay on the life of Louis Pasteur, the French chemist. It was said he decided to rebuild the honour of his country after France had been humiliated in the Franco-Prussian wars on 1871 by devoting himself to scientific research.
Any scientist who discovers a scientific law that is widely accepted by the scientific fraternity brings honour to his country. Sir Isaac Newton did this with his studies in physics.
The Scots are proud of Sadam Smith, the founder of modern economics, and they will soon be celebrating the birthday of Dr David Livingstone the explorer-missionary whom even Africans love to remember.
To live responsible life dedicated to the service of one’s country in particular and humanity in general is the essence of patriotism.
Patriotism means doing good to your country.
Those framing the new curriculum should remember that Malawi is in competition with other countries in global markets. The subjects taught in our schools should not just be relevant to our environment but also that part of the world environment that is crucial to us.
They should look at the curriculum of newly industrialised countries such as Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. Is our MSCE equal in quality to these countries’ school certificates?
Avoid inbreeding by incorporating into the curriculum foreign elements which can strengthen our educational system.
About Ngoni language and culture, I write to follow up what appeared in The Nation of Friday, January 2013. While language is a hallmark of an ethnic group it is not the only differentiate. Almost all Scotch people speak English as a mother tongue, still there is something distinct about being Scottish as opposed to English.
For more than two millennia, Jews lived in the diaspora speaking and communicating through foreign languages. Upon founding the new State of Israel in 1948, they decided to revive the Hebrew language and they succeeded.
It is possible for the Ngoni to revive their language called Zulu in South Africa, Isindebele in Zimbabwe without giving up the use of Chichewa or Chitumbuka. Let no one feel threatened by such a move.
Ngoni history has been distorted by those who wanted to weaken Ngoni influence. It is not true that Zwangendaba left Kwazulu with only 10 percent pure Zulus. When I was writing From Nguni to Ngoni, I checked Zulu clan names in A.T. Bryant’s Olden Days in Natal and Zululand and noted that about half of them were represented among the Ngoni of Mzimba. Incidentally, the people of Mzimba are not Jele Ngoni, but Mazongendaba. This has been their name since Zwangendaba was fighting against Shaka.
While reading The Nation issue of January 25 2013, I received a call from the Mzimba community radio from someone who solicited my comments on the story that Zwangendaba was buried in Isoka, Zambia.
My answer is that I do not believe this story. Earliest writers such as Yesaya Mlonyeni Chibambo, author of My Ngoni of Nyasaland say he died in Ufipa or Sumbawanga. This is east of Lake Tanganyika. Books written by scholars in East Africa confirm Zwangendaba’s death among the Fipa. One of the books I read says he was buried near a stream called Nyirinaha. In From Nguni to Ngoni, this name has been misprinted.
I would request members of the Mzimba Heritage to organise a trip to Tanzania, first Sumbawanga and then the university of Dar es salaam to find out what they say about the Ngoni.
Teaching was conducted in Zulu in Mzimba from about 1882 to 1930. In the CCAP, alternative to Chitumbuka hymns are sung in Chingoni. Some of the Ingoma songs are sung in Chingoni. Chingoni is not as dead as a dodo.