This post is written by one of my senior schoolmates in secondary school. I believe it is worth sharing for our benefits. Enjoy.
ỌLỤ AKA: LABOUR AS A FACTOR OF PRODUCTION; THE POINT OF OUR DISCONNECTION IN ANA IGBO
Last time we wrote about Ana (land), ownership and implications of the land laws in Ana Igbo. This time we will discuss Ọlụ Aka (Labour) as a factor of production and how our productivity as a people was affected by this major factor of production.
“Labor refers to the effort expended by an individual to bring a product or service to the market. Again, it can take on various forms. For example, the construction worker at a hotel site is part of labor as is the waiter who serves guests or the receptionist who enrolls them into the hotel” (Investopedia).
According to Adams Smith “The annual Labour of every nation is the fund that basically supplies it with all the necessities and conveniences of life it annually consumes, and which consists in the immediate product of that labour or in what is purchased with it from other nations. Thus, how well the nation is supplied with all the necessities and conveniences for which it has occasion depends on the size of this product (or of what is purchased with it) in proportion to the number of those who are to consume it. This proportion is always regulated by
1. The skill, dexterity, and judgment with which its labour is generally applied; and
2. How many people are employed in useful labour in proportion to those who are not so employed.
Whatever be the soil, climate, or extent of territory of any particular nation, whether its annual supply is abundant or scanty must depend on those two circumstances.” (Wealth of Nations).
In simple terms, efficient production is affected by the SKILLS, DEXTERITY AND JUDGEMENT at which Labour is applied, this I think also involves the use of machines to fast track and enhance production for more efficient output.
This also goes in line with the Igbo economic thought process, hence, SKILLS is represented as “DI” (Mastership in a particular skills or knowledge), DEXTERITY is represented as “NKA N’ ỤZỤ” (This also involves the science and technology required to enhance production and fast track output) while JUDGMENT is represented as “AKỌ N’ UCHE” (This involves using one’s wisdom and discernment to properly allocate skills and dexterity to the appropriate sector of production in order to effect greater output).
It therefore follows that when the Labour of a particular society is Not properly channeled to “Di”, “Nka n’ Ụzụ” and “Akọ n’ Uche”, the society stands more chances of becoming Less productive. For example, when one uses Land (which is a factor of production too) to cultivate Sugar Cane, without adequate Skills, dexterity and judgment, he cannot process such sugar cane into sugar, ethanol, molasses, etc therefore he will end up just consuming raw sugar cane without adding any value to it, next, he will export the raw sugar cane to other Nations with the right and proper Skills, dexterity and Judgment who will then convert those sugar cane into Refined Sugar, ethanol, Molasses and export same back to him at a higher price. The Nation with the proper Skills, dexterity and Judgment becomes more productive while the one without becomes less productive.
The more productive a Nation is, the more prosperous they become and vice versa. This is how some Nations become prosperous while other Nations remain in poverty. Unproductivity and poverty are now the reality of the contemporary Ana Igbo and other Nations residing in Africa.
Adam Smith also went further to analyze this reality thus, “The most opulent nations generally excel their neighbours in agriculture as well as in manufactures, but usually not by as much in the former as in the latter. Their lands are better cultivated—and having more labour and expenditure bestowed on them—produce more in proportion to the extent and natural fertility of the ground, but usually not much more than proportional to the greater amount of labour and greater expense. In agriculture, the rich country’s labour is not always much more productive than the poor country’s, and never as much more productive as it commonly is in manufactures” (Wealth of Nations)
But Ana Igbo was once a productive and prosperous society. Our fathers owned and cultivated our Lands, and through “Di”, “Nka n’ Ụzụ” and “Akọ n’ Uche”, processed the raw materials gotten from our lands into various goods and services, exchanged same to supply them with all the necessities and conveniences of life they annually consumes. Consequently, GT Basden came to Ana Igbo 100 years ago and observed in his writing (Among the Ibos of Nigeria) that throughout his stay in Ana Igbo, he met NO destitute.
Today Ana Igbo has become one of the most unproductive and poverty stricken Nations on earth, whom can now only be compared with other failed Nations of Africa instead of Serious and productive Nations of the earth like Israel, Japan, China etc
WHAT WENT WRONG?
It all started with the paradigm shift in our thought process (Echiche). Gịnị bụ Echiche (What is Thinking in the Igbo philosophy), Echiche bụ ịtịnye Akọ na Uche n’ọlụ, iji were kpa agwa m’ ọ bụ mepụta ịfe a na-afụ anya. (Thinking in the Igbo philosophy is the ability to engage knowledge and intuition to produce an act).
Apart from “Akọ n’uche” which is mostly inert but also greatly influenced by the philosophies, ideologies and cosmologies of a given society, “DI” and “NKA N’ỤZỤ” comes from learning and practice which is done through “Mmụta” (Education). The type of education system operated in a given society determined greatly on how productive such society are going to become, it determines greatly the kind of Skills and Dexterity that will be available in that given society.
Unfortunately, Most of the early Western scholars at the time of colonization assumed that “Africans” knew no reading and writing, they had no systems, contents, and methods of education to pass on to the young. To such scholars, education in Africa meant Western civilization. The failure to integrate indigenous learning and Western education was partly a deliberate effort to eradicate “African” education. The introduction of Western institutions by some colonial agencies, especially the Christian missionaries was also calculated to undermine many aspects of “African” social structures and pave the way for their replacement. The Western assault on traditional knowledge also applied to the replacement of local languages with foreign languages. With the achievement of “independence” for most African countries in the 1960s, little effort was devoted to considering whether the knowledge conveyed in the schools was of relevance for the young nations. The more urgent problems had to do with the expansion and building of new school physical structures…. Consequently, curriculum reform to reflect the relevance of the African setting did not take place. Western curricula values continued to be reinforced after “independence”. The current forces of globalization, which have strong elements of cultural imperialism and aim at the harmonization of attitudes, supposedly, with the emergence of global culture and the domination in the use of foreign languages in primary schools in Africa provide little or no room for the acquisition of African indigenous knowledge (Eze, Ukamaka Teresa and Ike Nnia Mba Sr, Phd, (2013): Integrating African Indigenous Knowledge In Nigeria’s Formal Education System: It’s Potential For Sustainable Development). Such a Tragedy!
Rodney argued that it was an education for underdevelopment. He believed that pre-colonial African education was alright because it grew out of their environment and available resources. He maintains that the objective of the colonial school system was to train Africans to work in the local administration at the lowest rank. Few Africans were selected and given such education that will help them participate in the exploitation and domination of their countries (Walter Rodney, (1977): How Europe Underdeveloped Africa).
A critical look at the colonial education structure which is still invoke till today in Ana Igbo reveals that it was intended to enslave the Igbo people economically, socially, and politically, that’s how we gradually started becoming an unproductive and poverty stricken Nation .
Okoli in referring to the colonial system of education stated that “the school curriculum consisted of the 4R’s – Reading, writing, religion, and arithmetic. Rote learning, memorization, and indoctrination were the methods of learning” (Okoli NJ 2011. Comparative Education).
These are done with the overarching aim of preparing the learner for “white collar” job or for employment by the missionaries or colonial government (Prof. Lilian-Rita Akudolu 2010: A curriculum framework for entrepreneurship education in Nigeria).
It was never structured to equip the learner with the generic skills of knowledge, communication, adaptability, creativity, team spirit, literacy, information, communication and lifelong learning… These generic skills are not job-specific rather their acquisition calls for the type of general education found in entrepreneurship. That is, the type of education that equips the learner with the knowledge and skills to desire, seek, recognize and utilize available opportunity to do something new to create wealth for self and others and consequently contribute effectively to the society (Obanya 2009: Dreaming, leaving and doing education).
It was obvious that the education was excessively “bookish” rather than being technical; it was said to produce only clerks. Consequently, Igbos under this system of education were gradually detached from their traditional society and economy (Dr. Nkechi Okoli and Eneojo Jacob Allahna, (2014): Entrepreneurship education from Pre-colonial to Post-independent Nigeria).
Maybe, this is the reason why the Igbos named the colonial school institution, “Ụnọ Akwụkwọ” (The house of books) instead of “Ụnọ Mmụta” (The house of learning). Hence a child that attends the colonial school institution is referred to as “Nwata Akwụkwọ” (Child of books) or “Ọ na-agụ akwụkwọ” (The Child is a book reader). If you are book smart, you will be referred to as “Ịma Akwụkwọ” (You know books), but if you show native intelligence and wisdom, you will be referred to with the actual right words; “Ịma Ịfe” (You are intelligent/wise).
Today most Ndị Igbo spend 20 years of their lives just to acquire paper certificate(s), almost all their lives just to add Dr., Prof. etc to their names yet, while Inventors in Israel, Singapore, China etc without titles to their names are developing AI and other cutting edge technologies for National prosperity, we in Ana Igbo CANNOT process sugar from sugar cane, pharmaceutical starch from cassava, textile from cotton, leather from animal skin, chocolate from cocoa, etc. Unfortunately, the world has left us behind as we kept on degenerating from more than 100 years ago.
Ụmụnne, if you are still wondering how we degenerated from a Nation that produces Akwaete fabrics in the past to a Nation that now depends on China fabrics today, A Nation that produces most of what she consumes to a Nation that now depends on other Nations for what she consumes today, take your time to study these factors above as it concerns Ọlụ Aka (Labour) and see our point of disconnection to the real values that would have driven efficient Labour to productivity in Ana Igbo.
Stayed tuned for PART 3 (EGO, CAPITAL AS A FACTOR OF PRODUCTION; THE POINT OF OUR DISCONNECTION IN ANA IGBO).
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© Chukwuemeka Obinwugo 15 December 2019