Higher Education Bullshit

“…. he asked me if, in view of my obvious ignorance of everything that he had taken for granted since he was three years old, I would please lay off the higher education bullshit.”

I laughed and laughed at this statement made to an American in a working relationship with a black Ecuadorian.

I have found that most pompous asses in Africa are those who think in terms of how qualified they think they are because of their education. People sometimes don’t know what they don’t know. Know what I mean?

I’d take a person who is genuinly loving and kind toward people, with a heart to learn and serve, over a pompous character with a paper degree any day.

A paper degree can not erase poor character or community skills, and it is certainly no gurantee of competancy or practicality. Degrees could also serve as a means of perpetuating things that should no longer be.

Seriously, I’m coming to think that much of our western training actually unqualifies us because it stamps into peoples minds ideologies that may no longer be working,  causing people to work under assumptions that are no longer true. People come out with the answers they were told, rather than responding to what is actually unfolding on the ground in this day and age. We arrive with the box given to us and never really stop to see anything, modify anything, or toss a whole plan out.

We have so much to learn from Africans.  I’m to the place where i realize that Africa has the solutions for Africa. Most of what it takes to grow, thrive and succeeded in Africa comes from the wisdom and mouths of Africans – Not from westerners at all.  They have the capacity, and they understand.

I should have known this all along.

This is why i do a whole lot more listening as of late. I’m less quick to hand out advice anymore.

“We first became friends probably out of an almost identical sense of pity for one another. Any American can, I suppose, imagine my pity for Ramon. It was grounded in the contemplation of an intelligent and ambitious youth chained by circumstances to crushing and lifelong poverty in a poor country that offered no future to its ineptly educated citizens. Ramon’s pity for me was just as basic as he watched me moving about, confused and frightened in his strange world. I was unable to communicate with anyone about anything but the most animal needs of survival. Except for bananas, and I didn’t know the Spanish word for them, I was unable to identify a single fruit or plant. I couldn’t catch a fish or paddle a canoe or net a shrimp or weave a piece of rope out of a vine or find my way on a jungle trail or even walk on one for more than fifty feet without sinking up to my knees in mud. I couldn‘t machete out a patch of weeds or fix a leaking roof. I couldn’t even cook a pot of rice that didn‘t come out like a great mass of glue. Jesus, I couldn’t even walk a hundred feet without shoes. Ramon found my ignorance so overwhelming that he could hardly bear it; he was confused between tears, depression, and anger. Chances are when I macheted down a tree it would fall on me, hopelessly entangling me in its spiny branches; paddling across the river I was almost inevitably swept out into the rip tides where the ocean breakers crashed onto the sandbar. In the middle of all this, to hear me speak of my four years at university filled Ramon with an incredulous impatience, and about the third time I mentioned my educational qualifications for arriving to overturn his life, he asked me if, in view of my obvious ignorance of everything that he had taken for granted since he was three years old, I would please lay off the higher education bullshit.”
(Moritz Thomsen.The Farm On The River of Emeralds)

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