Posted on Leave a comment

Namibia: Lesson Planning for High School Learners

Earlier I posted about arriving in Namibia to teach in 2012, now I want to talk about the strategy I used while I was there. They said it was the “lowest performing school in the region” blah blah, but they also said I achieved the most, more than anyone, past or present, while I was there. Why? I don’t believe in looking at circumstances as the final say, I look at it to determine a strategy. Information is information, whether it’s good or bad, it’s what you do with it that counts. Hearing that they were the “lowest performing” was just information, non-important information by the way. I know what they wanted me to believe, and I proved everyone wrong, including the students themselves. Any Black child in my presence will achieve, that’s it. Enjoy this post about my teaching strategy in Namibia! It has not been edited. (The picture is a picture of 4 of my actual students).


6/29/2012

I must admit, lesson planning for high school students is a bit tougher than I thought, especially when I teach computers to grades 8-12. Grade 10 really enjoys my lessons, then I found out that in Namibia, Grade 10 is the most important grade in school. My learner told me why but I couldn’t understand everything he told me, so I’ll confirm with another person. Interactive learning I see is the best approach no matter what grade whether big or small. I find that after I explain things, going around and asking the students to demonstrate what I’ve done helps them a lot better. A lot of these classes have over 30 students so I have to be creative so I can have their full attention.  I find that grade 11 and 12 enjoy my lessons but they want to do more fun things on the computer. I’d love to do many more fun things too but from what I’ve heard from the learners, past volunteers have had a little too much fun with them, and they did not learn much about computers.  So I chose to be stern with them concerning the lessons I will teach so that they can gain the most out of the time that I am here. All in all, I think that the progress made so far is impressive, when a learner tells you everything you taught them word for word two days after the lesson, it is the most amazing joy. I have to remember that they use British English here in Namibia, so when I talk sometimes they don’t know what I’m trying to say. One day I was translating to them what they should type and one student said “miss, is there a full stop?” I had no idea what he was talking about, then after a few minutes of that whole figuring out stage, I realized they were talking about a period at the end of a sentence. Lol. I must say my job here is an interesting one , I’m learning so much! After all, I hope the learners are learning just as much from me. One thing is they learn very quickly, as I said they speak British English, the only thing that may slow me down is the fact that some words I say they don’t understand, but once I adapt to their language and talk like them, and they understand me, after that it’s golden, we continue with the lesson. That’s what it’s all about!

I have to add, a learner just came in on his free time to type his assignment and he used all the functions I taught them the other day without even asking for help, made my day 😀

Posted on Leave a comment

Titles Don’t Matter… As Much as The Work #TeachMeTuesdays

I don’t disagree with the philosophy of many titles, I’m just authentic to myself, and always one to never care about what you believe more than what I see you do – more importantly how you treat me, and other people. You see, it’s the English language, titles were earned in African languages; it’s only in English where people put titles before actions. Even in some African cultures, babies aren’t named until you see their character. I identify with action words. You can see it in how I talk, I tell you what I’ve done, I’ll tell you that I teach, I’m not so focused on you calling me a teacher.

I’m African first, African is Ubuntu, that shows up especially in how we treat other Black people. I love and respect and follow many philosophies of PanAfricanism, but as I’ve said, I’ve already reckoned that I’m fully African. No matter what one believes, it doesn’t absolve them from the self work. I’m well versed in enough African history to know that I embody all of what PanAfricanism is, and more, which is completely African. More than a title, it’s the reclaiming of my heritage, especially the parts that were stolen. You see, that means I accept and not reject other Black people who even follow religions and ways that I don’t agree with, because the African mind is an understanding mind, especially knowing our 400 year history, we work to restore not reject. That means I show love to Black people who live lifestyles I don’t agree with, unless they’re causing unnecessary physical harm. That means when I am amongst my own people, I should be doing my best to unite us and not divide us. If you can’t greet the poor black Woman or Man, don’t say you respect me.

That’s just it, I have never in my life met anybody from any belief system – to include religion, politics, social, and philosophical, that talked about their title so much and also embodied the qualities of the title, even to this day, even many of the people who follow me and that I follow online. I talk a lot, but about ways I embody the titles. I keep reminding everyone that there is so much pessimism in our community that I tell these stories to change the narrative and say that it can be done at a micro scale, let’s join together and achieve these victories at a macro scale, but people are waiting for me to claim a title and that will never happen. People claim to be revolutionaries and have not named one solution and state the problems all day, and are hopeless pessimists! They come and comment on my posts then go back to posting their pessimism. People claim to be PanAfrican but go back and forth insulting Black people all day, publicly, that they don’t like. In 10 years on this blog and online, you have never seen me do that, because I find no fulfillment in it. Our enemy is not other Black people but the system that has divided us. I’m African because I’m African, not as a political title but it’s literally my DNA, I don’t believe in politicizing everything, especially life.

It’s hard for people to understand when human beings are so complex. I went to graduate school to get a Master of Arts in Africans Studies, to learn and be able to educate and serve my community from many angles. I enjoyed learning, and especially loved learning about PanAfricanism and Marcus Garvey. I just never believed in following someone so hard that I never met, and I understand that in this life I have my own purpose. While I respect and love the greats, they lived their calling, I have my own greatness to live. We take what is useful for us but we don’t have to agree with and embody everything a person said just to seem dedicated. I wish for people who quote Marcus Garvey and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. all day long to actually tell me an original quote of their own. I know it’s in there, but I notice people get so caught up in wanting to know and be well versed in other people, that they live their whole lives not being well versed in themselves. Wake up! The same greatness is in you! The same greatness is also in those around you. You can celebrate someone living, the only reason many people celebrate the greats who are dead is because they didn’t know them. The way people go back and forth about the greats who are living; tearing them down, is the same thing that happened to the greats who are dead, and many now who praise them would’ve joined along in tearing them down based on some things they did and believe.

I can come up with any group today and if people are infatuated with me enough they’ll follow everything I say, that’s never my goal. My goal is to get people to think for themselves, and follow their purpose because this world is big and there’s enough room for many ways to achieve the same goal. That’s why I’m not quick to criticize other African leaders’ styles such as Dr. Umar Johnson, or whoever people ask me my opinion about; because if his work is liberating people, then that’s his style; my style reaches different people. As long as we’re reaching, that’s what matters, and it doesn’t look the same for everybody. I empower people by letting them know that I am not needed to lead you because you have those same qualities in yourself. A lot of times people see me as strong, which I am, and strong enough to lead them, which I won’t. All this energy I have is also your energy, which is why I change the narrative in people’s mind, because I understand the power of a transformed mind and actually believing in the person of the mind you are transforming. It’s also my teaching style, the reason my young students were successful is because I gave them the tools to think for themselves and empowered them to exceed their expectations, which they did, and the expectations of other “professionals” who didn’t believe in them. Critical thinking is a gift.

We have to understand that the framework of the world we live in doesn’t allow for authenticity as much as we claim to believe. That’s why we create it ourselves. I’ve come to my own understanding of the world and that I am a speck in billions of specks. I can live authentically to myself and attract other authentic people based on that. That is my tribe. Those who connect with me, will, and those who don’t, won’t. The way capitalism and classism has destroyed the minds of people, all philosophies are tainted. Which is why within many philosophies and religions, it leads to more division. People ultimately agree with who has the most money and influence, hence, following so hard those who are dead and popular, and can’t appreciate those who are living and genuine.

That’s why I created my Decolonize Your Mind™class and the Dear Black People™ series. It is based on truths and facts that I put years of research into, and I provide references; but the purpose is for everyone to leave thinking for themselves, and to create the dialogue in their mind that leads to true freedom… join!!!!

Posted on Leave a comment

Namibia: Lesson Planning for High School Learners

I must admit, lesson planning for high school students is a bit tougher than I thought, especially when I teach computers to grades 8-12. Grade 10 really enjoys my lessons, then I found out that in Namibia, Grade 10 is the most important grade in school. My learner told me why but I couldn’t understand everything he told me, so I’ll confirm with another person. Interactive learning I see is the best approach no matter what grade whether big or small. I find that after I explain things, going around and asking the students to demonstrate what I’ve done helps them a lot better. A lot of these classes have over 30 students so I have to be creative so I can have their full attention.  I find that grade 11 and 12 enjoy my lessons but they want to do more fun things on the computer. I’d love to do many more fun things too but from what I’ve heard from the learners, past volunteers have had a little too much fun with them, and they did not learn much about computers.  So I chose to be stern with them concerning the lessons I will teach so that they can gain the most out of the time that I am here. All in all, I think that the progress made so far is impressive, when a learner tells you everything you taught them word for word two days after the lesson, it is the most amazing joy. I have to remember that they use British English here in Namibia, so when I talk sometimes they don’t know what I’m trying to say. One day I was translating to them what they should type and one student said “miss, is there a full stop?” I had no idea what he was talking about, then after a few minutes of that whole figuring out stage, I realized they were talking about a period at the end of a sentence. Lol. I must say my job here is an interesting one , I’m learning so much! After all, I hope the learners are learning just as much from me. One thing is they learn very quickly, as I said they speak British English, the only thing that may slow me down is the fact that some words I say they don’t understand, but once I adapt to their language and talk like them, and they understand me, after that it’s golden, we continue with the lesson. That’s what it’s all about!

I have to add, a learner just came in on his free time to type his assignment and he used all the functions I taught them the other day without even asking for help, made my day 😀

Posted on Leave a comment

Life’s revelations- The spirit of community

I love becoming more liberated everyday, everything that has happened in your life the Lord will use to help you realize your purpose later in life…

I often wonder what is in me that makes me the way I am. To challenge people often on the things that concerns me, especially when it comes to Africa and the diaspora, and not let people’s reactions affect me. I realize that I’m fortunate, to have been able to be born in America and still be able to have traveled to Nigeria since the age of four. I have always seen the good in Africa, maybe that’s why I’m so passionate about my people all over the world because I know where we came from and where we have the ability to go. In Nigeria I am always reminded that I’m home and people know that I was not born there but they still tell me that’s my home. I feel at home as soon as I step off the plane, and I feel comfortable. And then I come here to Namibia for the first time, and still feel at home. I get that same feeling of home that Nigeria gives me but just different cultures, same continent. I was told by a Namibian that because we share the same skin, I should feel at home, and that I am at home. People greet me with respect based off of the fact that we look alike. Why is that? Why is it that I can feel more at home on a continent I wasn’t born in than I do in the place where I grew up? I can walk anywhere in New York where African-Americans are and still feel like a stranger. An African can walk into a room with African-Americans and not feel welcomed. An African-American can walk into a room with knock off clothes  and feel like a stranger in a room with people who have on name brands. On the North American continent, there has been a loss of the African spirit of respect for one another based on of the fact that we share the same skin, people respect name brands and “swagger” more than they respect the human being in front of them. I love my people but there has been a serious disconnection. That disconnection is a result of “divide and conquer”, which has to be overcome.

I’m going to break it down…

Being here in Namibia has made me respect the Himba tribe so much. The women walk around with their breasts out, red butter mixture all over their bodies, and they refuse to modernize themselves and wear “clothes”. The Himbas still to this day respect their cattle and that is their source of wealth, they are wealthy people. They walk around in modern Namibia where everyone else is “stylish” in their western clothing. Every Himba wears the same attire, but the most important thing is that they have community. I thought about it the other day, one Himba is most likely not going to be jealous of the next Himba because they look just alike with the same clothing and they work together to maintain their wealth. There is something about tradition that makes you realize the old way was not so bad.

What if we all as black people had solidarity like the Himbas? We are too far in the modern world to all wear the same traditional attire but forget clothes, what if we based it off of the color of our skin alone? What if we realized that the rich African-American and the poor African-American and the Jamaican and the African all have the same struggle based on skin alone? We fight the same stereotypes, we fight indirect rule, the new Jim crow, and white hegemonic viewpoints; and that struggle based on that skin tone is enough for me to respect you just for that alone. After that comes the real transformation; because we would begin to have dialogue that allows us to learn from one another. “oh really, you like that over in Africa, well I like that too here in America”. And then the conversation would become more informational, people would begin to learn from one another and see the similarities, and the differences would become invisible. Of course we should respect all people regardless of skin color and ethnicity but if we don’t respect our own how can we respect another? Just like a man who does not take care of home cannot expect to take care of his outside business, same concept.

Personally, I learned that lesson myself back in May, 2012. I had an encounter with an individual through my roommate who was friends with this person. This is someone who was so awkward in the club. I mean one of those guys that can get absolutely no play even if he was rich. Then my roommate invited me for dinner with her coworkers, he happened to be one of them. I was so shocked but here is the point of this story. He had me laughing the whole night! He was so funny! And really cool! It turns out that both of us are half Nigerian (Nigerian Father) with an African American mother. It turns out through our conversation I ended up teaching him things about Nigeria that he didn’t know, and he had been hesitant about going back because of his own personal reasons, but that night I changed his mind. So if I had let my initial thoughts of his “corniness” overpower my mind and actions, I would have never met an awesome person. It made me think and I felt so bad about my initial thoughts but I felt even better that I had been transformed in that one night. What if the whole of Africa and the Diaspora could have that same mentality?

“In Africa we share”, is a common phrase but means a lot. As African Americans sometimes we fight so hard to beat the stereotypes that it becomes a competition. Too often we hear phrases like “first black person to do run for president” (for example). How about just because I broke barriers, it doesn’t make me the exception to my race; I’m just doing what my ancestors have always done and never get recognition for. I am not the exception to my race; I represent the people who fought to do what I’m doing but never got to see it, and because American society is so individualistic we  have seen people claim the victory for themselves and leave others behind. What If we created ways for all those around us to be successful whether they come from where you came from or not? I didn’t grow up with the same lifestyle that most of the kids I work with in Albany did, but it doesn’t stop me from treating them as if they were my own brother and sister. The fact that I look like them is enough. I still fight for the kids well-being because the same system that tries to oppress them tries to oppress me too, no matter where you grew up. Money only liberates to a certain extent, but knowledge of the system along with wealth goes an even longer way. In that case, if my students in Albany want to think I grew up like them, it’s ok. As long as that motivates them to follow the same path i’m following and become successful, that’s all that matters. Most times when Jesus did a miracle or preached, people didn’t know he was Jesus, in fact at times Jesus told people not to tell others who he was. Nobody has to know our status in life because the impact comes from your influence on the people you are trying to help, not where you come from or what you’re worth monetarily. There’s too much division already so my credentials mean nothing if it didn’t help someone else get to where they need to go. I had to realize this for myself and I’m glad I did. If we started sharing and giving without expecting anything in return, we could live freely. How about if the next person isn’t “fly”, give them some of your clothes, make them fly, it’s simple.

Giving and community building has always been part of the African Spirit. We don’t need to be in Africa to experience it though. We can work together to create it wherever we are in the world. A person’s outside appearance shouldn’t matter, we should feel welcome amongst our own no matter what corner of the earth we are in. It’s about mentally becoming free and ridding ourselves of all the brainwashing that has taken place by way of oppression. There is absolutely nothing wrong with knowing and acknowledging what has happened in the past so that we can work on our present and have a better future…