The Igbo Network
IBU ANYỊ NDANDA
The Centrality of Education in Igbo Culture
PROFESSOR ROMANUS OGBONNAYA OHUCHE
Professor of Education and Director,
<![if !vml]><![endif]> I have been preceded on this platform by
eleven scholars who have in their differing but complementary approaches
provided enormous insights into the ways of life of our people, the Igbo: of
Eastern Nigeria and their relations to the West of the Niger. I thank these
creative thinkers and catalysts for their contributions to the understanding of
the intellectual and cultural experiences of our people. I am grateful in a
special way to Ambassador Gaius Anoka and all others who helped to initiate this
intellectual and cultural celebration. My gratitude goes to the 1991 Ahiajoku
Lecture Committee for nominating me to the old Imo State Government and the
I have come to perform as an
effective teacher, to speak for teachers and for all of education, to speak to
Igbo and to others in
There was professor M. J. C. Echeruo, who started it all .in 1979, with "Aha mu efule" or a matter of identity. He stressed the industry and liberty of Igbo of yesteryears and looked forward to a return to cherished traditions. This call for a return to endearing traditions was taken up by professor A. Afigbo in the third lecture in 1981 titled "The Age of Innocence". He recalled how peacefully and harmoniously the Igbo used to live with their neighbours and indicated that the said peace is now being threatened by our new ways of doing things.
Ten years later in this lecture
titled”Ibu anyị Ndanda “ or "the centrality of Education in Igbo
Culture", I shall ask the Igbo to return to industry and co-operation in
order to contribute maximally' to individual well-being and
(a) Education in traditional
(b) Main Development in
primary, secondary and tertiary education in
(c) "Ibu anyị Ndanda" case studies;
(d) Some current problems and challenges of Nigerian education;
(e) "Ndanda" and Nigerian education into the 21st century.
I now invite you to share my thoughts and ideas.
The concept and process of traditional education. Education is a life experience. In the words of professor O. Akinkugbe, it should take place from womb to tomb.
Agreeing with this I say that education should start at home, be formalized at school and continue during the. individual's experience after school.
The basic unit of traditional
In his outstanding 1984 Ahiajoku Lecture titled "The Focus of Igbo World View”, the late Professor Ibeakwadalam Nwoga painted a similar picture using concentric circles while discussing the ideals of Igbo communal life. Individual achievement is to be encouraged and admired because it contributes to the upliftment of the existential status of the community.
The traditional education of
African youngsters is based on the social structure described as well as on
certain unifying ideals which spring from the polytheistic beliefs of the
The latter is perceived as peopled with spirits, some great and others small, some benevolent but all needing periodic appeasement through the offering of sacrifices. There is in addition a set of ancestral spirits made up of the dead members of the community. Events in the world are explained in terms that are not always in agreement with explanations proffered by modern science.
A Sierra Leonean educationist, the Late Professor V. E. King (1967:2) had stated the basic philosophy of West African education:
The individual is a member of a family and of a community whose continuity is essential for the survival of the tribe. This community consists of the living and the dead, the interdependence of both being recognized by the important places in society held by medicine-men and intermediaries. The land is the principal bond of unity, it being ... the begetter of the unborn, the upholder of the living, the custodian of dead ... It is imperative, therefore, that youth should learn all this and, especially how he fits into the pattern of life.
Many Nigerian educationists, notably Fafunwa, Ukeje and Ohuche, have observed that, given the basic philosophy articulated above, the education of the youth was in the past guided by functionalism. It was a means to an end and not an end in itself. It served both as a means of preparing each youth for adulthood as well as a means of inducting him into society. It stressed job orientation, political participation, social responsibility and spiritual and moral values.
Children were expected to learn correct speech, proper behaviour and the traditions of the ethnic group from mothers and other relatives. They thus learnt how to cope with their environment. Through observation, imitation and participation, they learnt to farm, hunt, cook, fish, play, wrestle, deliver messages, run homes and build houses. Teachers included all members of the extended family as well as secret societies for those who benefited from the traditional form of higher education. Clearly, this type of education was, for the most part, practical, utilitarian, non-formal and non verbal.
(b) GROWING UP IN IGBO CULTURE
In 1966 the Institute of Education of the University of Ibadan released its Number Six occasional publication titled ”Growing Up in Nigerian Culture" which was the result of field research undertaken for the Ford Foundation by Dr. N. Uka. The sample included 360 rural and 360 .urban IIgbo children in the age range of between 51/2 and 151/2 years. It confirmed that among the Igbo people the basic tenets of traditional African education are practiced. The study also investigated such other factors as socio-economic variables and growth and development patterns including emotional, intellectual, motor, physical and social development.
The study took comparative data
on Ibibio, Igbo and Yoruba samples and found no significant differences in
intellectual, motor and physical development in spite of differences in
language and traditions. This led to the conclusion that "culturally the
While learning to perform motor activities, the child receives help from the mother, other adults or older siblings and while learning to talk, stimulation is also provided by these various groups. By the age of four years each child is expected to be able to feed himself. Tests of intelligence indicated no significant difference in performance due to sex while revealing differences in favour of children from higher socio-economic backgrounds. The Uka study also showed that in physical measurements boys and girls were about the same up till the age of seven years when girls would begin to grow taller and weigh slightly heavier.
(c) IGBO CHILDREN ON COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
During life long personal investigations which lasted more than 60 years and which are continuing all over the world today in spite of the death of the apostle some years ago, Piaget sparked off and sustained studies on the growth of logical thinking. He began with the basic position that all organisms, animals and humans alike, adapt to their environment. But there is a difference. In simple animals such as the amoeba, adaptation means striving to satisfy basic needs while in the human being, adaptation involves adjustment to a succession of environments. What is more, there is a type of organisation which makes adaptation possible. That organisation is rudimentary in simple organism and increases in complexity in human beings.
Adaptation is viewed as involving two complementary processes, assimilation and accommodation. The term assimilation represents the inner organisation of the organism which enables it to absorb something from the environment and incorporate same into its internal structures. A simple illustration is that sometime after dinner those components of the dinner which have been digested become a part of the dinner. The assimilation of experiences from the environment is similar. On the other hand the complementary process, accommodation, allows the organism to adjust to the experiences it is striving to assimilate. Thus, different experiences will demand the development of different tools for this purpose.
This theoretical formulation of two compensating and Complementary processes coupled with a detailed observation of his own children enabled Piaget to conclude that there is a fixed and invariable sequence of stages in the development of thinking through which each person moves as he grows from childhood to adulthood. Moreover, the various stages in this sequence are marked by qualitative differences in the manner of thought. I had discussed these stages in many earlier papers, especially in Ohuche (1986).
Earlier, African studies using Piagetian and neo-Piagetian techniques had been summarized by Ohuche and Pearson (1974) as well as in the African Child and his Environment edited by Ohuche and Otaala and published in 1981 by Pergamon Press as one of African's contributions to the activities of the 1979 International Year of the Child. Among the studies included were three by Dr M. O. Okonji on the effect of training of the ability of Igbo children to classify materials and the effects of familiarity on classificatory behaviour.
Taken along with some of my work among the Mende of Sierra Leone, the work of Dr Nancy Ohuche on developing the horizontal vertical co-ordinate reference system by some Igbo children, the investigations of Gay and Cole in Liberia and Jahoda in Southern Africa, the studies of Dr Omari in East Africa and the studies of Dr Dasen in French speaking Africa, it was now possible to establish an African perspective on cognitive development. The lesson learnt on the cultural context of thinking and learning is that children are different, one from another, and that although intellectual development takes place in stages, these stages appear at different ages in different children and in different cultural environments. Environment, heredity and previous learning experiences are variables which affect times of appearance.
Other studies have also been carried out on Igbo and other children. A major work on Igbo subjects was undertaken by T. Ama Nwachukwu who in 1979 tested 500 six to ten-year-old school children on Piaget's concrete operation tasks of classification, number serration, space and time. He discovered that the norms were about the same as elsewhere but that urban children had significantly better results than rural children. Some researchers in other settings have discovered the converse and there is now reason to believe that the urban/rural dichotomy may in this instance be attributed to some intervening variables.
Ohuche (1973:4) noted that
This sparked off a 1986 study in which Edwin Obiano was interested, among other things, in finding out to what extent Igbo children can estimate distance, height, time, and other measures. He found that non-schooled children performed poorly and were worse than school children in all the tasks performed.
In concluding this section it may be said that in its original form traditional education among the Igbo people was in the main out-of-school education. There were no formal schools but the homes served as congenial "schools" where children did not have to travel to be educated. Teaching was informal, practical, and utilitarian and geared to the needs of society. The curriculum was undocumented and unwritten, but it had to do with the welfare of the individual, the overall needs of the society and the roles which young persons were to be trained to fulfill.
In the words of the late Professor D. I. Nwoga (1984: 44)
Within this contest, there is a balance between the claims of community and the claims of individualism. The individual is s member of the community that sets the goals that have acceptability 'within that 'community. It is the community that sets up reward and punishment systems. To a large extent, the individual in Igboland is subsumed within the requirements of the community.
It would certainly have been nice if the results of the studies on Igbo children referred to in the preceding were available to traditional African education. But that was not to be because the studies themselves were part of the transition from traditional to Western education.
2. MAIN DEVELOPMENTS IN PRIMARY, SECONDARY AND TERTIARY EDUCATION IN
(a) PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
(i) the missionary/colonial administration era beginning with the arrival of Thomas Birch Freeman in 1842 and ending in 1954;
(ii) the era of regional autonomy from 1954 to 1960;
(iii) the immediate post-independence and Pan-African era of the 1960’s;
(iv) the policy and programme reform era of the late 1960's to mid 1970's specifically 1966 – 1975;
(v) the present era from UPE to now.
This classification system has been made here mainly to call it to the attention of the interested scholar. However, for our discussion the main threads of developments in primary and secondary education before political independence in 1960, that is a period of about 120 years covering (i, ii and iii above), will be given.
Serious Christian Missionary
educational activities started in
When regional autonomy was achieved in 1950 grants-in-aid by the Central Government were discontinued and the financing of pre-tertiary education became the responsibility of each Regional Government. Also Revenue Allocation Formula of 1954 included the principle of derivation. With this formula, the Central Government and Eastern and Northern Regionals lost some funds to the Western Region which was buoyant because of the sizeable revenue derived from cocoa.
The most striking point about education during this period was the high status of the teacher in the society. Whether he was in a one-room school or in a relatively larger school, in a Primary school or in a secondary school, he was respected, admired, cherished, revered and feared. He was a "magister", an adviser to parents and guardians, a counselor to elders, a disciplinarian, an authoritative member of the society. He was invariably the chairman at important local functions, the local aristocrat and a model to be emulated. Some parents kept their children in check by threatening to report unruly ones to their teachers. In those days, it would appear that Nigerians knew that persons who supervised the mental development of their children deserved respect, honour.
The teacher, in turn, carried himself with dignity for the most part. He was responsible, he was disciplined. Even when he had only little formal education as was the case with the grade three teacher, he tried to be effective. He was a symbol of what was good in our society. This was the case until the Nigerian civil war.
At independence in 1960
Then the 1968 Nairobi Conference of African Ministers of Education noted that qualitative important should be an integral part of educational expansion in all African countries and made recommendations towards achieving this objective. For Nigeria the - period between this Nairobi Conference and the 1976 Lagos Conference of Ministers of Education of African member states of UNESCO fell in our Second National Development Plan period (1970-74) and the beginning of the Third National Development Plan period (1976-80). Much more success was achieved with quantitative expansion than with qualitative improvement, especially at the primary school level.
The UPE was initiated under
conditions which indicated that the Federal Government had lots of money. The
Government's commitment to education alone, was put at
Then the Okigbo Revenue Allocation Formula of 1979 reduced the Federal Government's share of the Federation Account from seventy-one per cent to fifty-five percent (55%) on the grounds that State and Local Governments which received increased shares would spend part of their increased shares on primary education. Specifically, Section twenty-nine of the 1979 Constitution was translated to mean that the burden of the provision and maintenance of primary education was that of the States with the proviso that Local Governments would play a participatory role. Thus, the Federal Government stopped funding primary education. To make matters worse, the State Governments also withdrew from the funding of primary education on the grounds that the responsibility was that of the Local Government.
The outcome was chaos as both funding and management of primary education were grossly inadequate. The system was on the br1nk of collapse. There was gross shortage of everything except children. Buildings were in short supply and those that were available were ill-maintained. Teachers were poorly trained and ill-equipped to teach. In many parts of the country teachers were owed arrears of salary up to six months. To save cost in some states, experienced and effective teachers whose salaries were high were laid off. Standards varied considerably as some local governments spent as much as eighty per cent (80%) of their budget on primary education while others diverted even the little money that was available to other projects. But clearly, there was overall lowering of standards.
At the same time, there was the
global economic recession of the late 1970's leading to a decline in
It should also be noted that the National Policy on Education introduced far-reaching reforms at the secondary level of education. Among other things, introductory technology equipment and teachers were required at the junior secondary school. Yet, less than fifty per cent of the states made the transition to the junior secondary school when it was first due in 1982 and an even smaller percentage made the transition to the senior secondary school when it was due in 1985.
The major issues in relation to primary education have been summarized on page three of an undated paper to the thirty-four meeting of the National Council on Education in the following language:
The recurrent key issue in all the reports is the necessity and extent of Federal Government involvement in funding primary education (irrespective of constitutional provision), the modalities of raising adequate fund, and the channels of routing to appropriate authorities at local government level, such that the target beneficiary primary schools will be service without the funds being diverted.
Many professionals are of the
opinion that the Babangida Administration found a creative solution in 1989
with the birth of the National Primary Education Commission (NPEC). Its
pre-mature death in 1991 is seen as a blow to the development of sound primary
education. Many professionals also see the
(B) BRIEF ON HIGHER EDUCATION IN
In December, 1990 the
President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria inaugurated a
Commission on Review of Higher Education in
Historically, the first
The polytechnics grew rather
slowly from one in 1932 to eight in 1975 through twenty-two during the Third
National Development Plan period to thirty at the moment. On the part of the
Universities, in 1960 the
By the time the
The advanced teacher training colleges recommended by the Ashby Commission were initiated in 1962 with five colleges to cater for much needed middle level manpower for secondary schools. As they grew in number, they also became transformed to advanced teachers colleges/colleges of education, and acquired additional responsibility for the training of primary school teachers. As at August 1991, there were fifty-four such institut0ions, nineteen there were fifty-four such institutions, nineteen of which were established and are funded by the Federal Government.
These three categories of tertiary institutions have, by and large, achieved their mission which for all of them is to teach, provide appropriate public service and execute research in different degrees. However, it would appear that the polytechnics suffer from an identity crisis which tends to indicate that their products would rather be university products and their staff university staff.
3. 'IBU ANYỊ NDANDA' CASE STUDIES
Igbo embraced formal education
with unparalleled zeal. As the information given earlier indicates there was a
period of nearly seventy years between the introduction of secondary school
It should also be stated for
the records that these pioneers of education in Igboland were among the
foremost nationalists that
The guiding motto was "ibu
anyị danda.“ Some communities contributed cash and land to sponsor some
persons, who performed meritoriously in secondary schools, in higher
educational institutions at home and abroad. The Igbo wanted education for the
knowledge and power it provided. They also saw the education of young people as
a communal activity to which different people contributed according to their
resources. It would appear that it was from the Igbo that Sir Eric Ashby (now
Lord Ashby) obtained the title Investment
in Education for
In this section I shall take up
specifically three case studies. But before I do, let me state that aspects of
the lgbo attitude to formal education in its early years in Igboland seem to
have been shown in the creation of the Anambra State University of Technology
(ASUTECH). In the establishment of the multi-campus ASUTECHI, communities
donated land and individuals donated cash and other resources. Furthermore, the
spirit of ”ibu anyị danda" 'still exists in many parts of Igboland.
For l stance on
(a) "IBU ANYỊ NDANDA" AND THE UPE IN IGBOLAND
You may recall that in 1954,
there was a new revenue allocation formula which made the Eastern and Northern
Regions of Nigeria poorer end the Western Region richer than before its
introduction. This situation as well as well planning which started in 1952,
enabled the Western Region to Implement successfully an ambitious programme of
Free Primary Education which was launched in January, 1955. Given the rivalry
between Eastern and
Simply put, within one year the
"ibu" became too heavy for "danda" because the primary
school population increased nearly by sixty per cent (60%) from seven hundred
and seventy-five thousand to one million two hundred and nine thousand one
hundred and seventy-seven. Also, the Catholic Church which was a strong educational
Another attempt at free primary
education was made by the
(b) THE "IBU ANYỊ NDANDA” SCHOOL:
The spirit of "ibu anyị
danda" dominated education in Igboland during the 1940s and 1950s. It was
that spirit which in 1948, encouraged the people of Nkwerre Opiegbe to team up
with the Anglican Mission to found a secondary school called
Nkwerre Opiegbe people took on
the building and development of
The construction of the football field for the school was again an ”ibu anyị danda" story involving the students, the staff, and the towns people. In the process of this work, there were plenty of stones collected from the grounds. These stones were used to build the first library of the school. Everybody connected with the school showed the dogged determination of the "danda" to overcome all obstacles.
This eventually attracted what
was called a "double stream levy” which meant that every communicant paid
six pence and every student paid three pence toward the expansion. Before long,
a total of four thousand pounds was collected and the two thousand pounds left
after the Archdeacon was paid back went into further expansion. The “double
stream levy” started at Nkwerre was to become an important instrument of school
expansion in Igboland. The spirit of
The curriculum in
(c) "IBU ANYỊ NDANDA" AND THE
As has been pointed out
earlier, nationalists, foremost among who were Igbo pushed in the 1950s in the
direction of modifying school curriculum. They also pushed in another
direction. Led by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, they attacked the
1937, lamentation was to form the current that gathered sentiments and ideas of
like-minded people. Until in the 1950s' Dr Azikiwe as the leader of a Regional Government
was able to set up a machinery for translating the ideas into reality. The blossoming
In effect what happened was that Dr Azikiwe was in an excellent position as Leader of the Government of Eastern Nigeria to exploit for the good of everybody the "ibu anyị danda" spirit of the Igbo. The idea of establishing an autonomous University had strong opposition from the leadership of the Nigerian Union of Teachers as well as many British educated Nigerians who felt that standards would be lowered. Their opposition was aided and abetted by the British Director of Information Services who ensured that views of the opposition and not those of the supporters of the move were always publicized.
However, the idea of the
University had its own strong support. There were such American-trained
academics as the present Minister of Education, Professor Aliyu Babatunde
Fafunwa and the current president of the
Here was another case of
"ibu anyị danda" which has given
Thus, in spite of criticisms,
To seek the Truth
To teach the Truth
To preserve the Truth and thereby
To restore the dignity of man.
At the said convocation, the President of this country, General lbrahim Babangida, paid .growing tributes both to the University of Nigeria and to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Igbo in general and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, in particular. It was an emotional moment for many of us present when he turned to the Owelle of Onitsha and stated:
To you Sir,
the entire nation owes a debt of gratitude for bequeathing to us this legacy of
innovation, pragmatism and dedication to a noble cause, in order to raise the standard
of education in
4. SOME CURRENT PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES OF NIGERIAN EDUCATION
Between the Nairobi Conference of 1968 and the Lagos Conference of 1976 African government had talked much about using education to bring about a new world economic order as well as rapid transformation of the African continent. Thus, the Nigerian National Policy on Education, introduced in 1977 and revised in 1981 was received with fanfare. In fact, all of our English-speaking West African neighbours have modified their educational systems along lines parallel to ours.
The policy standardized primary education at six years beginning at the age of six for the whole country. It also introduced the two-tier secondary school featuring the initiation of introductory technology during the first three years called the junior secondary school and the diversification of the second three years known as the senior secondary school. The former become operable in 1982 and the latter was introduced in nine states in 1985, in some other States in 1986 and in the rest of the states in 1987. However, even with the immense efforts of the National Policy on Education Implementation Committee, the implementation problems of the Policy remain many and varied. Among them is inadequacy of teachers of introductory technology and the slow rate of diversification of the senior secondary school.
Nevertheless, the most pervasive problem of Nigerian education at all levels is poor funding. It would appear that for many years now the best funding that the system has produced is to manage to find enough money to pay the poorly paid personnel who service it. Thug, we find that system-wide about eighty per cent (80%') of the recurrent expenditure is used for salaries, leaving very little for producing the goods and materials which th6 personnel need for providing the services for which they are paid. Then, there is the confounding factor that capital budget has been minimal. This has meant that we have been, for the most part, unable to provide new buildings or new desks and chairs or new laboratory equipment or even maintain existing structures and equipment.
The poor state of funding leads to some other problems. One problem that is in many ways directly associated with it is the unhealthy and unattractive environment of our educational institutions. In many of these, the buildings need to be painted; there are several uncompleted structures; chairs in the classrooms are dilapidated; the grounds are unkempt and the lawns are not mowed regularly. Toilet facilities, where they exist, are poor. Primary and secondary school teachers do not have comfortable teachers' rooms and headmasters and principals do not have comfortable offices. Where libraries exist, most are like stores with some old books and a few chairs and tables in them.
A third problem of the Nigerian educational system and one that is threatening the purpose of education is indiscipline. Ours is not a perfect society since no such society exists. Naturally, some degree of indiscipline is expected in all non-perfect societies. However, it would appear that in our society the degree of indiscipline at the moment is out of proportion with our level of development. Some have tried to explain the problem in various ways. Among other things, some hold that some traditional values that have been abandoned have not been replaced. The transitional stage between the abandonment of traditional values and the replacement of these displaced values has witnessed an unenviable toll on our society. It has now become easier for some Nigerians to murder others for money or to be hired to murder persons they don't even know. It has become easier for some Nigerians to cheat and defraud others or institutions. It has become easier for some Nigerians to tell the "white lie" or to "whitemail others".
Within this type of society, the educational institutions have suffered. Some students have demonstrated different and varied incidents of indiscipline. Among these are truancy, frequent lateness, inattention in class, purposeful disruption of class activities, reckless use of money, examination malpractice and insults and assaults on teachers and other older persons. Some of the teachers have not behaved better. In some cases, some teachers have been caught aiding and abetting their wards in acts of indiscipline. In some cases, some teachers have been known to report in the school, sign the school register and, with or without the connivance of higher authorities, go off for other pursuits. In some cases, some teachers have been known to stay and chat in the staff room when they are supposed to be teaching and that after reminders from the class prefects. Amazingly, many times these incidences are not reported and the culprits are not disciplined. Sometimes, there has been the question of who will "bell the cat" because some who have attempted to do so have suffered for same.
A fourth problem that is widespread in our primary, junior and senior secondary schools is poor management and supervision. The standard practice now in our country is that local governments have ultimate responsibility for primary education. In various states, schools boards or teaching service commissions or the like have been created to manage secondary schools on behalf of the ministries of education. Even with this clearly spelt out responsibility at the secondary level, supervision has been improperly executed, most times neglected. On management, many principal and headmasters would appear to lack leadership effectiveness.
Yet, as Professor B.O. Ukeje (1991:24) has said:
The fifth problem has also persisted over the years at both the primary and secondary levels. This is the fast rate of growth of the school population. The primary school population grew from 2,912,618 in January 1960 through 3,515,827 in 1970 and 9,867,961 in 1977/78 to 13,996,518 in December 1989. That is, the population increased nearly fivefold during the period of thirty (30) years. Similarly, the secondary school population increased from 135, 364 in January 1960 through 310,054 in 1970 and 913,648 in 1977/78 to 2,901,993 in December 1989. This shows more than a ninefold increase in the thirty year period. These growths have had an immense impact on the entire educational system.
The sixth problem is associated with the fifth. It is the problem of out of school youth. This problem exists at different levels. The first is that there is a small proportion of children who do not begin school at all, even given the programme on nomadic education and the migrant fishermen programme. Second, there is a slightly higher percentage of children who drop out of the system at the end of primary school. Third, there is a slightly higher percentage who drop out at the end of junior secondary. Fourth, there are the large numbers who complete senior secondary schools and have no where to go or anything to pursue. Fifth, there are diplomates from our colleges of agriculture, colleges of education and polytechnics and graduates from our various universities who are unemployed.
I shall now take up four challenges to the Nigerian educational system. One of these is the challenge of effective teaching which exists throughout the system. Ineffective teaching manifests itself in many forms. In the primary school mathematics is poorly taught because most teachers dislike the subject and are poorly trained in it. Primary science and social studies are poorly taught because most teachers are unfamiliar with both the content and methodology of these subjects. In the junior secondary school such subjects as mathematics, integrated science, introductory technology and Nigerian languages lack competent teachers.
In the senior secondary school such subjects as physics, chemistry and geography have become unpopular mostly because of lack of effective teachers. Mathematics is so poorly taught that a significant proportion of each class considers it a punishment sitting in the mathematics class since the subject is compulsory in the senior secondary certificate examination. While a teacher is supposed to be a catalyst, facilitator, it can be claimed with a high degree of accuracy that many Nigerian teachers are unexciting and uninspiring in the classroom. Professor Pai Obanya has called them ”cheaters" where the word "cheater" has the same seven letters with the word teacher. At the university, the story is not very different. The cheat appears in the form of a person who reads outdated notes.
A second challenge is what I
have called the challenge of the "indigene" phenomenon, merit,
standards, quality and quota. A's we strive in
a free, just and democratic society, a land full of opportunities for all citizens, able to generate a great and dynamic economy, and growing into a united, strong and self reliant nation.
no term can be more anomalous than the word indigene as used in our context. Thus, in our educational practice, we have a quota for indigenes. Merit, standards and quality are, thereby, necessarily modified by quota.
The third challenge that would
like to take up here is the challenge of culture, development and technology.
This challenge is real because in
In examining the nexus between development and technology, the Dialogue took their view that the strategic imperative is to anchor / both concepts on what is endogenous to' a people. In essence, participants believe that as a propelling force, technology must be internally induced if the goal of improving the quality of life of the people is to be realized and sustained over the long run.
Technology is culture dependent and culture bound and for it to transform the lives of a people and therefore result in national development, it must be an integral part of the people to be transformed. This is not an argument against transfer of vital experience from other countries but it is certainly an argument against transfer of obsolete equipment.
The fourth and final challenge
is the challenge of relevance.
Also, education must promote "the culture of productivity" and encourage individuals to be creative, industrious, enterprising, hardworking, honest, tolerant and selfless. Personal integrity and ability to relate well with and interact positively with other should also be stressed.
5. "NDANDA" AND NIGERIAN EDUCATION INTO THE 21ST CENTURY
(a) "NDANDA" AND FUNDING
In section 4 of this presentation 'danda' is painted as industrious, resourceful, self-reliant and creative. Above all, it was indicated that ”danda" is a co-operative worker, for what one "danda" cannot do, many “danda" working together can. This buttresses the Igbo saying "igwe bụ ike" or the equivalent saying "ehinne nyụọ amịrị ọgbọọ ụfụfụ. My thesis is that as we move toward the 21st century, Nigerian education has a lot to learn from the spirit of ‘ibu danda'. Creativity is needed; industry le needed; resourcefulness is needed; self-reliance is needed. But most important of all is ”danda's" co-operative and determined approach to facing problems.
Earlier, I had indicated some
of the burning problems of and challenges to
Yet, education is a co-operative venture. Before the civil war, our people in Igboland built and cared for their schools which were community landmarks. They had an 'ibu anyị danda' approach to the funding of education. Then at the end of the civil war, Government took over the schools which then became government property and not community property. Since in this day and age in the thinking of the man in the street, Government property is nobody's property and does not have to be cared for, the neglect of the schools became inevitable.
Government action was not limited to the schools. Those universities catered for by the Federal Government became tuition free universities and Government also pegged, rather unrealistically the cost of boarding and accommodation and undertook on its own to subsidize feeding. Feeding subsidy collapsed some years ago just as Government's insistence on tuition-free status is now pushing many Federal universities in the direction of collapsing. May I stress again that quality education cannot be free. If government cannot pay for it, it should allow those who can to do so. Government’s proper concern about brilliant youngsters from poor families can be taken care of through properly organized bursaries, loan schemes and scholarships. We had a good record on these before the civil war.
(b) “NDANDA" AND UNWHOLESOMENESS
Poor funding is obviously associated with poor environment but aspects of the latter are also related to values, indiscipline and unhealthy attitudes. It does not require much money to clean the cobwebs and other untidiness in and outside some of our school buildings. What is required is a recognition, which only the proper value system can inspire, of the fact that the coweb is not a part of the building. l would imagine that "danda's" solution to the problem of unhealthy environment is that "danda" does not want to be associated with anything that is unwholesome.
(c) "NDANDA" AND OUT-OF-SCHOOL YOUTH
(d) "OCHANJA MARKET" TECHNOLOGY REVISITED
Many knowledgeable Nigerians
have made useful contributions regarding the role that technology should play
in our national development. They include the present Minister of Science and
Technology, Professor G. Ezekwe and such other persons as Professors A.O. Anya,
M. Chijioke, S. Eze-Uzoamaka, C. Ikoku, and E. Odigbo. Among other positions,
these in their various ways found the concept of 'transfer of technology' as
Specifically, our drive towards advancement in technology ought to move in three inter-related directions, viz
1. The improvement of indigenous technology in all fields of economic endeavours such as health, manufacturing, farming and construction;
2. an understanding of imported technology and its adaptation to fit our resources and need; and
3. the development of new technologies based on our needs and material resources.
Reading this took me back to my
March, 1986 articles “Technological development in
It may then be said that ochanja market technology is that approach to technological development which enables us to rely on our technology and develop same to serve our society. Obviously, in the process it may be necessary to transfer experience from other countries. This is welcome. What is not, is the transfer of the products of other nation's technologies, under conditions in which we cannot cope with such technologies. Our main objective is to use technology as a vehicle of national development. We want technology to help us grow more and better crops, to make water available to our rural, semi-urban and crowded urban populations, and in general lo enable us to live a better quality of life.
My point was, and still is,
that in that place called "Ochanja” market in
I am reminded of a lovely unit on the "danda“ done by the African Primary Science Programme (APSP) titled “Ask the antlion”. When a five year old girl turns to the mother and asks ”mummy, what does the antlion eat“? The mother just as coolly turns to the daughter and answers "ask the antlion". Yes, indeed, if you want answers from the ”danda", your problem will be how to frame your questions in ways that the "danda" will understand.
Properly conceived and executed, education is an important instrument that can create; that can ennoble; that can reform and revitalize society. Part of the Igbo dream since the beginning of formal education in our land has been for the son to reach higher heights educationally than the father. We must keep that dream alive.
In this lecture, I have looked
at Nigerian education from the perspective of the centrality of education in
Igbo culture. I have used as case studies the
I have one final story to tell. Forty-two years, four months and nine days ago on July 20, 1949 at the young age of 22 years the legendary Mazi F.C. Ogbalu (May God have mercy on his gentle soul), at St. Augustine's College, Nkwerre composed the Igbo Language And Culture Anthem. I t goes thus:
1. Chukwu gọzie asụsụ Igbo
Mee k'ọ na-agawanye n’iru
Wepụta ndi ga-ede akwụkwọ
Ndi g'ede ihe gat'ụtọ
Mee k' anyị si otu a mụta
Ihụ asụsụ anyị n'anya
2. Chukwu mee k'omenal Igbo
Guzosie ike mgbe dum
Mee k'ayị kpofue ndi jọrọ njọ
Ma jidesie ndi mara mma ike
Mee k'ayị si otua na-agbalị
Wee rue ndu ebighi ebi
Ndi Igbo ibem, ebe nwata n'ebe akwa n’atụ aka ma nne ya anọghi ya nna ya anọrọ ya. Unu ga echeta n' anyị arụtụla aka n'otu Mazi ọka mmụta Mike Echeruo si tie nkpu k'anyị laghachi n'ihe ahụ eji mara ndi Igbo. N'otu aka ahụ ọka 'nmụta ọzọ bụ Mazi Adiele Afigbo etiekwala nkpu n'ekwu kwa otu ihe ahụ bụ ilaghachi n’ihe ahụ mere ndi Igbo ji asi Igbo mụrụm, ma ha enyela m nri' N'iganiru Mazi Ogbalu rịọ si k' anyị jidesie omenala anyị mara mma ike.
lbe anyị nu, omenala anyị mara nma kwesikwa ijigidesi ike ọbụ gịnị? A nam asị n’ ọbụ otu ahu ndi Igbo si agbakọ aka ebu ibu ha ka danda – onye para, ibe ye para, ọdi nfe – ibu adighi anyị danda.
Ọchịagha nine no ebea eke ne m ụnụ
Ọha na eze eke ne m ụnụ
Ndi Nsụkka anyị na ekene dejenu, alua nu.
Abani, M.S.C. (1977) Emotional
Stability and Social Adjustment of Products of two types of Secondary Schools
Afigbo, A. E. (1981). The Age of Innocence, (Ahiajoku Lecture), Owerri: Cultural Division, Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports.
Amajirionwu, A.A. (1979).
Affective Correlates of Cognitive Ability, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis,
Anya, A.O. (1982), The Environment of Isolation, (Ahiajoku Lecture), Owerri: Culture Division, Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports.
Babangida, I.B. (1991), An address delivered by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces at the 25th Convocation and 30th anniversary of the University of Nigeria on Saturday, April 6, Nsukka: University of Nigeria Information Bulletin (Special Edition), July 17.
Bond, J. and Williams J. (eds)
(1987) Eyes on the Prize; America's Civil
Rights Years, 1950-1965.
Chijioke, M.O. (1989) Ugwumba. (Ahiajoku Lecture), Owerri: Ministry of Information and Culture.
Du Bois; W.E.B., (1987) The
Ebenebe, R.C. (1986) The Effect
of Training on the Cognitive Ability of some
Echeruo, M. J. C. (1979) A Matter of Identity. (Ahiajoku Lecture). Owerri: Cultural Division, Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports.
Essien, F.S. (1987) The
Influence of School Environment on Academic Achievement of Secondary School
Fafunwa, A. Baba (1974) History
of Nigerian Education,
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of Teachers' Qualification and School Facilities on Students Performance in
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(1985). Young Children Reinvent Arithematic;
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(eds) (1971). An Introduction to Human Development:
Modu, C.C. (1991). Summaries of
some Relevant Background Documents and Literature: Prepared for the Commission,
Review of Higher Education in
Muogilim, E. S. (1981). Nigera Education: A Classified Bibliography of Doctoral Dissertations. Calabar Centaur Press Publication.
National Board for Technical
Education, (1991), A Memorandum Presented To the Commission on Review of Higher
Commission. (1987), Bulletin of the National Universities Commission,
Commission, (1986) . Bulletin of the National Universities Commission,
Nwabueze, B.O. (1985), The
Igbos in the Context of Modern Government and Politics in
Nwachukwu, T.A. (1978)
Cognitive Development among six-to-ten year-old Children of Anambra and
Nwoga, D.I. (1984), Igbo Cosmology: Nka na Nzere. (Ahiajoku Lecture), Owerri: Culture Division, Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports.
Obiano, D.E. (1986) Ability to
Estimate in Important Mathematics Skills. Unpublished M.Ed. Thesis,
Obasango, O. and Mabogunje, A.
(eds). (1991). Elements of Development,
Obidoa, M.A. (1985). Group
Counseling, Self-Concept and Academic Achievement of
Obiechina, E. et. al (1986). The University of Nigeria, 1960-1985: An Experiment in Higher Education. Nsukka: University of Nigeria Press Ltd.
Obioha, N.E. (1982). Cognitive
Readiness for Science among
Ogomaka, P.M.C. (1989).
Ohuche, R. 0, (1974),
"Some Implications of Research in Concept Development for Mathematics
Ohuche, R.O. and Otaala, B.
(eds), (1981). The African Child and his Environment.
Ohuche, R. 0. (1990) Explore
Mathematics with Your Children.
Ohuche, R. O. and Ndu, A. H. (eds) (1991). Nathan Ejiogu: a case Study of Leadership in Education Ibadan Wisdom Publishers Ltd
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Onwujeogwu, M.A. (1987)
Evolutionary Trends in the History of the Development of the Igbo Civilization
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I should Die Before I Wake: the Nsukka Dreams East Lansing:
It is the traditional duty of my office to write the foreword to the Ahiajoku Lecture and I do this with a humbling awareness that the Ahiajoku Lecture has grown into an intimidating institution, an institution in which both the academia and the grassroots are equally keen. One had thought that the start of Ozuruimo would have reduced the interest o f the masses from the Ahiajoku Lecture Series but, on the contrary, Ahiajoku remains a great expectation in the people’s calendar of festivities. For the academia and the populace alike, who climbs the Ahiajoku rostrum is of paramount interest.
For these reasons, we the organizers have taken the importance of Ahiajoku into our stride and make all efforts to represent the best intentions and grandeur of this intellectual festival.
This year, we wish to draw attention to the premier position which education takes in Igbo culture. We find ourselves in the torrent of education whether in the teaching or in the deployment, we find ourselves facing the vicious cruel choice of education, the tide of education seekers, the consuming budget for education, the clamour for befitting exhibition, expression or utilization of the hard earned education. Government gets caught up in this whirlwind.
Against this harassing background, one notes the utmost and urgent relevance of IBU ANYỊ NDANDA – The Centrality of Education in Igbo Culture which is Prof. Romanus Ohuche’s topic for the 1991 Ahiajoku Lecture. We are all ears to hear this intellectual giant in order to pick possible explanations to our educational predicament and solutions to the problems and one hopes for a bold step into the future. One also hopes for a generic continuity. The leopard should not beget a sheep nor a tortoise, a serpent.
N.O. Adigwe, (ESQ.)
Attorney-General/Commissioner for Justice, Information and Culture
A CITATION ON THE 1991 AHIAJOKU LECTURE
Professor G. N. Uzoigwe
1991 Ahiajoku Lecture Planning Committee
In May, 1991, an article entitled "The price of arrogance" appeared in one of the nation's periodicals. It was essentially an extraordinary attack on the concept of the Ahiajoku Lectures as well as on the Igbo character generally. Having repeated the familiar stereo-types associated with the Igbo character and the well-worn epithets attributed to the Igbo by fellow Nigerians, the writer avers that the Igbo ”fought the civil war out of arrogance" and concludes: "Pride without arrogance is virtuous and does nobody any harm, but once it steps into the boundaries of arrogance it creates problems. With a little modesty the question of Igbo identity would not be bugging their minds today."
This astonishingly bold and irreverent piece frankly startled members of the Ahiajoku Planning Committee. It was as unprovoked as it was unwarranted. Some, there were who counseled that the article should be ignored as the lugubrious, certainly ludicrous, outpourings of someone who, in reality, knows very little about the Ahiajoku lectures and understands the Igbo even less. It was, nevertheless, decided that some of the issues raised by the writer were sufficiently important – even if in our view, wrong-headed and inaccurate – to warrant our entering into some sort of dialogue with him. Accordingly, the Chairman of the Ahiajoku Lecture Planning Committee was mandated to write to the author of the article clarifying our position (but with no apologies whatsoever), pointing out some of his misconceptions about the Igbo and the Ahiajoku Lectures, and inviting him, as a show of goodwill and Nigerian fraternity, to be our guest at the 1991 Ahiajoku Lecture. The chairman did so in an erudite and mature piece.
It would have been easy to forget the writer and the article, to sweep everything, as it were, under the carpet and proceed with business as usual. To do so would mean that we have failed to understand a major significance of the article, namely, that after more than a decade of explaining to the world what the Ahiajoku Lectures stand for, our message is still lost on some Nigerians. Let it be stated clearly once more that Ahiajoku is not a celebration of arrogance, not even a celebration of pride. There is nothing arrogant about a people attempting not only to understand themselves but also to explore the richness and beauty of their culture. I dare say, on the contrary, that it is their responsibility to do so. The United Nations Organisation had this in mind when it proclaimed the 1990s the decade of cultural development and invited all peoples to affirm the uniqueness of their cultures as well as their similarities to other cultures.
Ahiajoku is for Igbo self-knowledge. There is nothing wrong for a people to attempt to know themselves. To do so means understanding where the people had been, where they are presently, and where they are heading to in future. Such a knowledge requires as the citation for the 1990 Ahiajoku Lecture put it painstaking equerries, diligence and thoroughness, all of which are the virtues which attend to the pursuit of knowledge". There is nothing trivial, nothing frivolous, about the pursuit of knowledge. The Ahiajoku Lecture laureates are individuals who have distinguished themselves in their various fields of specialisation. Far from being arrogant, they are individuals into whom learning and long experience have inculcated sobriety and humility.
This is the thirteenth year of the Ahiajoku Lectures. In all, eleven lectures (there was no lecture in 1983) have been delivered as follows:
Professor M. J. C. Echeruo, A Matter of Identity (1979)
Professor B. N. Okigbo, Plants and Food in Igbo Culture (1980)
Professor A. E. Afigbo, The Age of Innocence: The Igbo and their neighbours in precolonial times (1981)
Professor A. O. Anya, The Environment of Isolation (1982)
Chief D. I. Nwoga, Professor Emeritus Nka Na Nzere: The Focus on Igbo World View (1984)
Professor B. O. Nwabueze, The Igbo in the Context of Modern – Government and Politics in Nigeria: A Call for Self-Examination and Self-Correction (1985)
Dr. P. N. C. Okigbo, Towards a Reconstruction of the Political Economy of Igbo Civilization (1986)
Professor M. A. Onwuejeogwu, Evolutionary Trends in the History of Development of the Igbo Civilization in the Culture Theatre of Igboland in Southern Nigeria. (1987)
Professor A. N. Okoro, Chukwu ka Dibia (1988)
Professor M. A. Chijioke, Ugwumba: The Greatness of a people (1989)
Professor A. O. Animalu, Ucheakonam (A way of Life in the Modern Scientific Age), 1990
Today’s lecture, Ibu Anyị Ndanda: The centrality of Education in Igbo Culture is the twelfth in the series.
It deals with a theme which is dear to all our hearts. The surprise is that we waited for so long before exploring the role of education in our culture. After you have listened to our distinguished lecturer, you will agree with me that the long wait has been worth it.
I have resisted the temptation, indeed a very strong temptation, to anticipate the lecture. How dare I unmask the masquerade! It is simply not done in our culture. So distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let us relax and listen to our throaty singer and his song.
TO RESTORE THE DIGNITY OF THE TEACHER
Being a Citation on the 1991 Ahiajoku Lecturer:
Professor Romanus Ogbonnaya Ohuche
Professor of Education and Director,
Professor Nwene E. Obioha, Ph. D., F.S.T.A.N., M.N.A.E.
Ọha na eze, mma mma !!
Today is another Ahiajoku day! By every indication the flavour of the celebration is higher than ever before. It is both a cultural celebration and an academic occasion in which our quest for progressively richer harvest of thought is further illuminated by a renowned son of this great land. The 'Ikoro' dancer of the day, the big 'masquerade', the chief priest, Professor R. O. Ohuche (Omeziriọha of Arọndizuọgụ), is a true academic giant, and a worthy teacher in the best sense of the word. I am proud and privileged to be part of his discipline and indeed honoured to be asked to announce his appearance today.
Permit me, Mr. Chairman, to digress a little, and thank the Imo State Government and the organisers of the Ahiajoku Lectures for this wonderful institution. I have followed with interest the selection of the worthy sons of our land to play the chief priest at these festivals. I find ample evidence of mature judgment in the choice of their lecture themes which are unassailable in terms of their contribution to our cultural and academic heritage. Indeed I salute all the past lecturers and rejoice in their eminence. Today, Education and its chief operator, the TEACHER, are making a majestic entry into the arena. We can only see this scenario as the big masquerade appearing on the scene when the ovation is loudest.
My second digression relates to
the TEACHER. In our present time and age, the word is derogatory. It has lost
its charm and authority of old. Here TEACHER, is used with the greatest
respect. To capture the sense in which the teacher assumes his true dignity, I
would like to refer to Emmanuel Obiechina's article titled "In praise of
the Teacher: A tribute to Chinua Achebe" and published in the Alumnus Vol. 5 No. 1, 1990/91, pp. 8 –
9. In this beautiful exposition, Obiechina assiduously reminded us of the past
glories of the teacher when he was "a particularly valued member of the
community" and the people called him "Onyenkuzi” with utmost respect.
We are talking of "Onyenkuzi” the philosopher who ”enlightens,... who
reveals knowledge, and puts people in the path of knowing ...” and who has ”the
drive to improve the world, to perfect human conduct and to straighten the
individual and the society". In these times, even the best and brightest
stars in the Teaching Profession remain unsung. It is precisely TO RESTORE THE
DIGNITY OF THE TEACHER that I present to you the Ahiajoku lecturer of today;
for Romanus Ohuche is a teacher in the true sense of the word. He is the
shining star of the profession that the society has unwittingly put under a
bushel. He has devoted his life ”straightening" the minds and spirits of
many inside and outside
Born in the woodlands of Imo river basin in a farm settlement (Ikpaocha) of Amazu kindred in Arondizuogu, Okigwe Local Government Area. Ogbonnaya (christened Romanus) grew up under the strong influence of two devout christian parents – Alfred Nwankwo Ohuche and Madam Angela Mgbafocha Ohuche (nee Nwosu). Their devotion to their acquired Roman Catholic faith was almost proverbial, for they literally lived their lives to the letters of the ”catechism" and the "Life and Teaching of Christ" – the two standard textbooks of the Roman Catholic laity of their time. It is therefore understandable why Late Alfred Ohuche (a carpenter by professionl) emulated the biblical Joseph the carpenter and brought up his children with unusual zeal and dedication. Thus Romanus knew and grew up in a rural agricultural village under very strict discipline – an experience he is very proud of.
The young Ogbonnaya had, his
early education at St Theresa's Primary School,. Okigwe and St Patrick's
College, Calabar. These educational opportunities (away from home) were made
possible first by the commitment of his parents to give him a good education,
and secondly, by the conspicuous brilliance he showed at the primary school
where he had two "double promotions" to complete his primary
education in record time. It is worthy of note that after "A Levels” at
the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Enugu in 1958, he
returned to his home town to teach Science and Mathematics in a community
school (Iheme Memorial Grammar School, Arondizuogu). Then, he was awarded a
Federal Government Scholarship to study in the
I want to return to the short
teaching spell at
The exigencies of the Nigerian
civil war prevented Dr Ohuche from returning home to continue his missionary
work. So he was content to accept a position as lecturer and later senior
The epoch of Professor Ohuche's
career as an academic has been in the
While carrying these onerous
tasks of leadership, Prof. Ohuche remains conspicuously prominent in the
University administration. He has served as a member of the Governing Council
of his University – representing UNN Senate. He is to be found in several
University Committees. He is a member of the Governing Councils of the Alvan
Ikoku College of Education Owerri,
In academics he finds time to
teach and supervise a large number of higher degree students. Over a period he
had as many as 12 doctoral and 30 masters degree students under his tutelage.
He does more than average in his research undertakings. It is on record that he
scored a hat trick in winning three times (1984, 1985 and 1991) the
Professor Ohuche is an outstanding international scholar who is very well published. He has authored or co-authored more than 20 books and 40 scholarly articles. The publications are characteristically of two kinds – purely academic research publications in which he has significantly contributed to knowledge, teaching oriented works. The recently launched publication “Explore Mathematics with your Children”, for example, is typical of his efforts to teach and even reach the wider population outside the classroom.
Internationally, Prof. Ohuche
is well known. For nearly ten years (1976 – 86) he was the Vice-President of
the African Mathematics Union. He has at various times been Consultant to the
African Regional Mathematics Programme, Science Education Programme for
At home he is equally widely
connected in the academic and Professional circles. He is an executive member
Professor Ohuche as a, father
is going to leave mankind a worthy legacy in offspring. He is married with
three children all of whom are showing exceptional potentials. One of them in
Mr. Chairman, Professor Ohuche is clearly a thorough breed academic and teacher who has experienced and practised education in all its facets. He has devoted his life's energy to education that his fellow men may not only be emancipated from Ignorance but also that they may make positive contributions to the society. That is the spirit of the true teacher. He is here with one clear objective – to restore the dignity of the teacher.
I believe that a worthy education is that which enables a people to constantly appraise their circumstances with a view to adopting new and appropriate strategies to survive. If the Igbo survived certain periods in history, some educational heritage must have made that survival possible. Today s Lecture titled ”Ibu Anyị Ndanda" should not only inform us of our educational exploits, it should show us the way into the 21st century.
Professor Romanus Ogbonnaya Ohuche (Omezirioha), the 'Ikoro' is calling you loud and clear. Please step into the arena!! Mezie anyị!!!
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