Decolonise Minds – Research Disputable

It never ceases to amaze me how Uganda’s education system produces Ugandans whose minds are so colonised against acknowledging and celebrating traditional knowledge systems of the peoples of the first nations of Uganda – the Iteso, the Buganda, the Banyakigezi, etc.

It is mind blowing how factoids permeate presentations by Ugandans on Uganda that they make at major decision making forums, internationally and nationally, including those forums whose resolutions have direct consequence of influencing content and form of policies that have direct impact on the lives of Ugandans.

According to Google, a factoid is an assumption or speculation that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact. An example of a factoid is such as the following assertion:

A lot of the information you see presented there (his power point presentation) is backed by research. So it is not easy to dispute what was proven by research.

Yes, that declaration by a Government of Uganda (GOU) official, one who described himself as being a Sustainable Land Management Specialist and a Soil Scientist working with the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) popped my eyes and dropped my jaw… I went wide eyed and uncontrollable exclaimed aaaah!

Lucky for me, we were in the confines of a top notch hotel in the city where flies are extinct for my dropped jaw rendered my mouth open for a significant time to have otherwise allowed a swarm of those blue flies associated with garbage to have easily flown in.

You see, the specialist soil scientist actually delivered his eye-popping jaw-dropping assertion about the infallibility of his presentation right after significantly knowledgeable persons, including me, I might add, had actually authoritatively punched holes in his presentation, during a discussion session that followed his presentation.

The specialist soil scientist’s assertion of the infallibility of his presentation also manifested his tendency to likely possesses Trump-like, patronising, condescending, inferiority complex characteristics that arrogantly manifesting as a misguided superiority complex. Sadly, this is not uncommon among Ugandan’s who have undergone Uganda’s bastardised version of the colonial global-western education system, the English one to be exact.

Take for instance, one of the images the specialist social scientist used in his power point presentation was of terracing or terraces in South-Western Uganda. The tone of his presentation made it seem like terracing was among the ‘new’ and ‘modern’ ideas that should be promoted among sustainable land management practices that Ugandans should be taught, learn and practice.

Another officer of MAAIF repeated that particular factoid, within the same discussion of the specialist soils scientist’s presentation, and asserted:

In Kigezi, in the past, the colonialists established terraces, the terraces have now collapsed and I think we are not making any efforts to reinstate them.

Well, the specialist soil scientist did not use his response time to correct the factoid. In which case, I can only assume that he actually believed it to be true that the practice of terracing in Kigezi is of exogenous knowledge systems originating from outside of Uganda. Mmmmm.

Once I recovered, my jaw no longer dropped and my mouth shut as it normally should be, I thought of sending a face book message to Dr. Muniini K Mulera, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Banyakigezi in the Diaspora, requesting him to verify the origin of the practice of terracing in Kigezi.

But, then again, search engines, such as Google, have surely become every researcher’s first port of call for finding out fast. So, I went to Google and typed the key words “terracing, Kigezi, history” and in seconds loads of links to sources of resources resulted.

I clicked on the link I felt most viable and my first choice led me to Richard Miiro’s paper titled: “Factors enhancing terrace use in the highlands of Kabale District, Uganda” (Miiro 2001). Miiro is apparently a scholar at the Department of Agricultural Extension/Education of the Faculty of Agriculture of Makerere University Kampala.

Miiro’s paper is indeed extremely viable, it is short – only six pages including references, and it is a free pdf download. Right therein, the first sentences of the Introduction of Miiro’s paper reads:

The practice of soil conservation using terraces dates back to the pre-colonial era. Terraces were part of the indigenous and cultural ways of adapting agriculture to the steep nature of land in South-Western Uganda… Between 1920-1935 before any colonial administrative effort was made towards soil conservation, terrace cultivation existed; crops were grown in strips across the slopes with intervening strips of un-cleared land.

And, indeed, it has always been my understanding that among the indigenous agricultural knowledge systems of the first nations of Uganda is the practice of terracing.

What will it take for Ugandans to decolonise our minds? What will it take for Ugandans to appreciate that among our greatest wealth is our inheritance of that which our ancestors bequeathed us in form of their pre-colonial traditions and practices – our indigenous knowledge systems? The time to re-think our education system is overdue.

Works Cited

Miiro, Richard. “Factors enhancing terrace use in the highlands of Kabale District, Uganda.” Sustaining the global farm – selected papers from the 10th International Soil Conservation Organisation meeting held May 24-29, 1999 at Purdue University and the USDA-ARS National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory. 2001. 356-361.

Photo Credit: Picturenative.com

 

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One comment

  1. Norah, thanks for this article. Interesting enough just over a year and half ago I was arguing with some academic and a friend of mine over this very topic of terracing. They credited to the colonial master, but I wasn’t convinced.

    By deductive reasoning, the colonial master could not be able to totally succeed in training Banyakigezi to adopt terracing, while at the same time totally fail to do so in any other parts of Uganda, especially in Bugisu which is similarly mountainous.

    Talking of “DECOLONISE MINDS – RESEARCH DISPUTABLE”, that is a huddle that we must overcome. Just like an Australian laboratory enriched Vitamin A GMO Bananas that were flown to USA to conduct an experiment on Iowa University female students paid $900 each, to eat two or three of those GMO Bananas about twice or three times a week for just a few weeks. Then after that the whole world was going to be informed that Ugandans could now go ahead and eat all the GMO bananas they want without any reservations since the Americans had eaten them. – http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/insight/iowa-state-university-goes-bananas-over-gmos

    I was left with no choice but to write a letter to a major newspaper in Iowa state titled: “GMO banana study should be questioned” – http://www.amestrib.com/opinion/letter-gmo-banana-study-should-be-questioned

    And a detailed article on Bedsidereadings website – https://bedsidereadings.com/health/study-design-questioned/

    Norah, as you have pointed out, the problem is with those whose minds have been colonized and yet are in positions of power. It has reached a point that one has to be brunt, hence my last e-mail titled “Top scientists debate biotechnology. Who Is Following Who?”:

    Dear Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, et al,

    “Uganda has topnotch scientists,” he (Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye) said, before reminding the participants how American business magnate Bill Gates recently praised Ugandan scientists in South Africa for their agricultural innovation. – See more at: http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1434940/scientists-debate-biotechnology#sthash.KnNM37vh.dpuf

    What does the American business magnate’s praise have to do with the biotechnology safety? Who’s is following who, “Top scientists” or “the business magnate”? The bible says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” – https://cagj.org/2010/08/for-immediate-release-gates-foundation-invests-in-monsanto/

    And yes, the American government has finally stopped listening to businessmen and scientists outed to be secretly working for Monsanto and with vested interested and has now decided to listen and take advice from Top Scientists with credibility such as Ramon J. Seidler, Ph.D., former Senior Scientist, Environmental Protection Agency, (EAP)- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-bronner/herbicide-insecticide-use_b_5791304.html

    In U.S. decisions based only on credible scientific findings and not on any praises from magnate businessmen are starting to get in place after learning the hard way such as “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Bans GMOs and Neonicotinoid Insecticides” – http://refugeassociation.org/2014/08/u-s-fish-and-wildlife-service-bans-gmos-and-neonicotinoid-insecticides/

    Ugandans’ expectations of their lawmakers should be of emulating those of the USA’s. Uganda Law makers should be writing to President Museveni telling him that once GMO Agriculture is introduced in Uganda, it will wipe out pollinators just like it has done in the US – http://www.gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/87-news/archive/2015/16003-52-house-democrats-tell-obama-the-chief-cause-of-decline-of-monarch-butterflies-is-gmo-crops

    There are consequences for listening and following Scientists with vested interests that have been compromised. The following is an official website of the president, so let no one call it baseless propaganda: Presidential Memorandum — Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators – https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/06/20/presidential-memorandum-creating-federal-strategy-promote-health-honey-b

    What USA has banned, is what is being promoted in Uganda! Why? Could it be that in Uganda our top scientists go by the praises from business magnates instead of credible scientific research findings of scientists like Dr. Ramon J. Seidler? One year after approving a powerful and highly toxic weed killer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reversed course, announcing on Wednesday it will revoke its approval of the product called Enlist Duo. – http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/11/25/epa-bans-weed-killer-gmo-crops

    One would have thought that after Burkina Faso’s GMO cotton failure, Uganda’s Biotechnology Scientists that were urging parliamentarians to pass 2012 GMO Bill so that we could also benefit from GMO biotechnology like Burkina Faso would have now taken heed and come clean!

    For howling can one keep on Cottoning on to a lie, before he/she wakes up to the truth? http://www.pambazuka.org/governance/cottoning-lie

    Sincerely

    Sam Nzabandora.

    P/S. About praising Ugandan scientists for their agricultural innovation, one wonders what $7 million grant went to do in Cornell University if NARO scientists are the one doing the innovation! http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2011/12/7m-usaid-grant-boost-uganda-banana-production

    Note: It is the same Cornell University research study’s findings which concluded in April, 1999 that “Toxic pollen from widely planted, genetically modified corn can kill monarch butterflies”, before it started listening to business magnates – http://news.cornell.edu/stories/1999/04/toxic-pollen-bt-corn-can-kill-monarch-butterflies

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Norah, your frustration is well taken and understood. Sometime ago I was in the same position and sent an e-mail to a friend exemplifying what you are talking about. I would like to share it with you and your readers, if you don’t mind:

    Dear Prof. Kanyandago,

    Imagine some muzungu coming from overseas to tell our educated law makers about passing policies that take us back to the benefits of our traditional ways of our grand and great grand parents of fermented foods/milk to improve our health – http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/African-probiotic-project-reaching-10-000-infants-a-day

    For the city kids or those who have never had or looked down on fermented milk, eshabwe or other traditional fermented foods will have to either agree that their great grand parents were right or disagree with the following findings – http://www.traditional-foods.com/food-preservation/amasi/

    Whichever the case, how ironic it is that every time a scientist comes up with some discovery and claims it is better than our traditional foods, soon or later the truth comes to bite them if they are still alive. We were told our gee was unhealthy because it contained too much saturated fat and saturated fat was bad. So man made oils with less saturated fats were promoted as much healthier – http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/06/16/the-100-year-old-scientist-who-pushed-the-fda-to-ban-artificial-trans-fat/

    If you remember, I pointed out that U.S. diet wouldn’t be what it is without Uganda. Dr. Trowell and Dr. Burkitt who learned from Ugandans the importance of eating foods rich in fiber, went ahead and explained to the Western world health benefits of eating foods rich in fiber like Ugandans.
    http://www.nytimes.com/1993/04/16/obituaries/dr-denis-burkitt-is-dead-at-82-thesis-changed-diets-of-millions.html

    Now, it is us who have decided to follow the processed food diet of the West and in process we are acquiring what Dr. Trowell termed – ‘Western Disease’, now some people want us to get our main source of nutrition from GMO foods, an experiment that has never been done on any society or anybody for that matter.

    Lead researcher Stephen O’Keefe said: “These findings are really very good news. In just two weeks, a change in diet from a Westernized composition to a traditional African high-fibre, low-fat diet reduced these biomarkers of cancer risk.” http://www.infowars.com/4-ingredients-in-80-percent-of-processed-foods-are-decimating-immunity-causing-cancer-and-many-other-diseases/

    What do obesity, constipation, heart disease, some common cancers, tooth decay and diabetes have in common? – http://www.mccarrisonsociety.org.uk/founders-of-nutrition-othermenu-149/trowell-othermenu-145?showall=1

    Later.

    Sam

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