Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Another book review

This one of "Idi-Aba, down memory lane" by Oyeronke Lawoyin and a host of her former classmates at Idi-Aba School in Nigeria. What? Let me explain.

Back in 1909, Southern Baptist missionaries saw a need to educate Nigerian women in the basics of modern living--reading, cleaning, music, and more--and sent a few missionaries to Lagos to start a school there. God blessed them, and today there are literally thousands of Idi-Aba "old girls" in Nigeria, forming a core to their educated classes. However, as all good things must come to an end, the Nigerian government nationalized education back in the 1970s, and the distinctive education of Idi-Aba came to an end.

For a while. Now, the school, or at least portions of it, are being returned to the Nigerian church, and the "old girls" (that's what they call themselves, don't blame me) got together to return the school to its former stature. The book is simply a series of testimonies to what Idi-Aba did for them, and how it worked--and it is refreshing to see a group of people so enthusiastic about the school they attended, and so earnest to see the renewed success of their alma mater.

If you'd like to support this work, the publisher is Xulon Press. And a side note; yes, I thought how different our nation's history might have been if the Southern Baptists had been more eager to found schools like Idi-Aba in places like Mississippi and Alabama, too.


Gino said...

good point,well made.

why didnt the SBs build schools in the south.
i know, but i might offend you if i mentioned why.

pentamom said...

I can guess what Gino's thinking, and there's probably a lot of truth to it.

But another part of the puzzle might be the highly "academic" nature of American education from way back. As far as I know (and I might be corrected on this) schools in America were always and only (or overwhelmingly at least) about book-learning. This is not universal -- read a 19th British century novel that mentions schooling for the poor, and you'll hear about girls being taught to sew and knit and other practical skills, alongside reading and arithmetic. In America, you went to school to learn the stuff you "couldn't" learn at home, but the "left behind" children of those who couldn't or wouldn't teach life skills at home stayed left behind, and didn't fare so well at the readin' and writin', either.

Why this is, I'm not sure, but it does seem to be a historic problem with basic American education. Why the missionaries twigged to doing it right in Africa when the American culture was overlooking it is an interesting question -- maybe it was the "outside perspective" effect, or maybe it was the obviously greater need there. In America, for the most part, girls were learning life skills at home and only some were falling through the cracks. There, it was probably more obvious that widespread help was needed.

Bike Bubba said...

I'm not getting that one, only defense of the Southern Baptists is that the government pushed out private schools by funding government schools so liberally. In the government's defense, though, Tuskegee did a lot of practical kind of things under Booker T. Washington, and it was started by the government.

(and my alma mater, the oldest land grand school in the country, started to admit women specifically to give them those practical skills....Michigan women were killing their families with bad canning and such)

pentamom said...

But that was college. Nobody was teaching the kids of the ignorant and the illiterate and the irresponsible to do basic sewing, basic hygiene, and such at the earliest levels. At least, I'm not aware of such. OTOH, the novel Jane Eyre portrays a situation where a charity school is set up for the children of the very poor to learn the very basics of life (I'm not talking about the notorious "orphanage" of the beginning of the book, but rather a school that Jane taught in later), that their parents couldn't or wouldn't teach them. This was apparently a common feature of British church-run education in the 19th century. That sounds a lot like Idi-Aba, and I'm not aware of any parallel in the U.S. at the time or, really, since.

Bike Bubba said...

Was Gino suggesting one reason for no school here might have been that people wouldn't have accepted the help--that it would have been seen as yet another paternalist insult? Maybe, though there are numerous examples of northern industrialists putting forth the money to start schools for poor blacks in the Jim Crow era.

I would have to assume that someone could have snuck in a few bucks without people noticing who was actually helping.

Oh well; hindsight is 20/20, of course. Next step; maybe I'll work to figure out our blind spots of today. :^)