The President, an accomplished academic himself, who last gave his lecture at Oxford as a guest lecturer at Herford College in 2007, told students and an array distinguished audience that included a High Court Judge at the Crown Courts, that African education was “designed disempower Africans.”
“For Africa, and much of the developing world, this question is imperative because for more than a century, our education was designed to disempower and stagnate us. In a sense, the African situation is a product of its education.
“Education was an imperial weapon for domination,” said President Mutharika as African students nodded in agreement.
He said education is the software of any society that it programmes every human being to see the world the way they do and conduct themselves, arguing that Africans should ask themselves the type of education they want to offer for them to develop.
“On 2nd February 1835, Lord Thomas Macaulay presented a Minute on Indian Education in the British Parliament. He proposed the use of education in order to create Indians who are “Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” This is how human psychology in the colonies was programmed,” he said.
He said the spirit of the continent was captured and killed which was a genocide of the spirit that has resulted to this day many Africans being driven by the belief that everything foreign and Western is greater than their own.
“The worst is that we lost ourselves. Many lost faith in themselves and the cardinal truth that the salvation of Africa can only be led by Africans. We were made to forget that nobody owes us their existence and that whatever charity comes to Africa is nothing but charity,” he said.
He said for a long time, every student who went to school in Malawi was supposed to know who discovered the Congo River or Lake Malawi. This is the kind of education colonialism left and was adopted for a long time. In other instances, one was supposed to be able to dissect an insect and label its parts. In that process, you would qualify a person and certify them as educated. But what is the use of such education, he asked.
“This colonization of the mind was supported by well-founded institutions, including universities. The university was the major factory for producing discourses that shaped and dominated the colonized mind,” charged Mutharika.
He said it was up to Africans to decide the type of education they need to economically emancipate generations whose past education was designed to dominate them.
The President said his administration has made a commitment to move education from only qualifications and certification of the people to empowering people with skills that aims at building capabilities in the people.
He said by establishing community colleges and programmes aimed at empowering young women, his Government was keen to expand education for the majority.
Mutharika’s engagement at Oxford makes him the second Southern African to address the Oxford Union after Archbishop Desmond Tutu emeritus. Other iconic figures that have addressed the Union include Albert Einstein in 1933, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton of the USA, Mother Theresa and Malcom X.