In a fascinating book entitled Education for Self-Reliance, Julius Nyerere (1967) discussed the importance of building the post-colonial educational system in Tanzania. A fundamental premise, according to Nyerere, is that the educational system needed to serve the goals of Tanzania (see also Gichuru, 2005; Khoapa, 1980). Therefore, they had to decide what kind of society they were building. He said their society was based on three principles: equality and respect for human dignity, sharing of resources, and work by everyone and exploitation by none. Interestingly, these principles do not focus on academic content. The successful community life of the village was more important. Social goals, the common good, and cooperation were all emphasized over individual achievement. Nyerere considered it particularly important to avoid intellectual arrogance, so that those who became well educated would not despise those whose skills were non-academic. “Such arrogance has no place in a society of equal citizens” (pg. 8; Nyerere, 1967).
The aim of education in Tanzania became one in which students were to realize they were being educated by the community in order to become intelligent and active members of the community. Since education is provided at the expense of the community, the community is well within its rights to expect those students to become leaders and innovators, to make significantly greater contributions to the community than if they had not received an education (Bennaars, 2005; Sanyal & Kinunda, 1977). To this end, the training of teachers places ideology ahead of content. Student-teachers are taught: 1) the true of meaning of the Tanzanian concept of ujamaa (familyhood and socialism; a basis for planned, self-contained villages), 2) to be dedicated and capable teachers who understand and care for the children in their charge, and 3) to deepen the students’ general education. Since colonial rulers exploited, humiliated, and ignored the people of Africa for so long, it was believed that teachers should be of sound mind and sound body. Thus, admission into a teacher training program requires a good academic background, sound character, physical fitness, and a good all-around background (Mmari, 1979). Thus, teachers were trained to be good role models for the development of Tanzania and her people (see also Bennaars, 2005; Mbalia, 1995).
In post-colonial Africa, some countries trained their teachers to educate children in being good citizens, and to be role models for how children should live their lives. Do you agree that teachers should play such an intentional role in helping to raise children? If not, does it seem that this was necessary for a time, given the history of colonization in Africa?
Although most of the work covered in this section has been done by writers, anthropologists, and sociologists, is there a role for more formalized personality testing in Africa? While this may not be the ideal approach for studying personality in African, it would allow us to compare this work with our Western concepts of personality (which constitutes the large majority of this book). There is preliminary evidence that the Five-Factor Model applies well when measuring the personality traits of Africans in Zimbabwe and South Africa (McCrae, 2002; Piedmont et al., 2002). Tembo (1980) developed an African Personality Scale on which Zambian college freshman did indeed demonstrate pro-African personality views (as opposed to anti-African personality views that would have indicated negative effects as the result of colonization; see, however, Mwikamba, 2005). Thomas Parham (2002) has used two personality tests designed to focus more specifically on the concept of an African personality: the Racial Identity Attitude Scale (RIAS; which Parham helped develop) and the African Self-Consciousness Scale. The RIAS measures the nigrescence construct, whereas the African Self-Consciousness Scale is grounded in Afrocentric theory (closer to the concept of Negritude). However, Parham has come to the conclusion that both of these tests fall short of measuring the core elements of what might be a common African personality, particularly spiritness and the potential biogenetic nature of African people (Parham, 2002). Thus, if this is an appropriate field of study, there certainly needs to be further investigation to determine whether Western concepts of personality assessment apply to the essence of African personality.