Burman University recently held a book launch for their Education Instructor Isaac Darko’s new book African Proverbs Epistemologies of Decolonization.
The book aims to connect African and indigenous oral histories oral histories to the more traditionally used Eurocentic model.
“The book uses decolonization as an actionable process that can lead to social and educational change,” Darko said. “It asks how the process decolonization can use African proverbs as tools in schools. It asks how we can create an anti-colonial future. It asks what we are going to do with our current education systems with the inclusion of indigenous epistomologies.
“It asks how we can make a more relevant understanding of what it means to be human.”
Darko said African oral traditions and proverbs — as well as indigenous oral traditions throughout the world can enhance academia, which can result in positive social change.
“Schools are not just meant to ensure the academic success of students — schools are also spaces for creating culture and a community of love, respect, sharing, reciprocity and wellness,” Darko said. “You don’t just go to learn about ways to get a career, you learn about how to relate with other people.”
The use of proverbs and oral epistomologies have been used in indigenous cultures throughout the world — including in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and South America. The tradition of oral histories and stories have allowed cultures to connect with one another in all of this epistemologies.
“One of the amazing things about proverbs is they are not typically used in classrooms — they are used amongst the people in the community,” Darko said. “The goal is to make people talk less and take action more. Proverbs is about speaking big ideas in small sentences. They are straight forward so that people instead of talking, can work towards solutions.
“I see this book as one of the ways people can look to understand other ways to engage in conversations.”
Proverbs also allow people, according to Darko, to create images in their mind that lend to education.
”Stories bring out a graphic image and people are able to have that picture in their mind,” he said. “When you add that to teaching, it helps everyone relate.
“Proverbs are not static. They are dynamic and can be adopted in different context. The whole idea is to teach values that allow humans to live in a human society.”
Another huge aspect of his book is the attempt to include indigenous culture into the current education models in order to help decolonize our culture.
“To explain decolonization, you need to understand how the world is shaped by one particular worldview and most education institutions are based on a Eurocentric view of the world,” he said. “When I talk about decolonization, it is the idea of allowing other world views or other ways of understanding into the classroom.”
Darko was grateful for the many elders in communities across the continent of Africa that have made this book possible.
“I would like to recognize the effects of oral traditions” he said. “Oral traditions are a solid and effective way of extending knowledge from one generation to another.
“We sometimes believe knowledge only comes from books but history and knowledge can be transmitted from one generation to another in other ways. Oral traditions are a way to keep our history.”
African Proverbs Epistemologies of Decolonization can be found anywhere books are sold.