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15 October 2005

Comment on Ngugi's "New Orleans and the Third World"

© Gaolekwe Ndwapi

First Posted 08 October 2005

As an African and a teacher I could not believe statements such as those quoted by Ngugi, just like him I heard such over the national television the news reader said "look at all those bodies its just like in Somalia". Does this mean that to some of these people sufferings like those can only happen in Africa? Is this the lens through which Africa is being viewed?

But then again I understood and at the same time questioned how such stereotypes could be allowed to exist. People who make these remarks are educated. What did they learn in school? In times like this what role do teachers play in educating the young? We as teachers the world over have a role in educating the young and general public over such matters.

I think the statement like, "This is not supposed to happen in America. It is supposed to and can only happen somewhere else." These are statements which tell us a lot of how some Americans view their country and African countries. Natural disatsers know no color, race or economic class. I think there is a lot that needs to be done educationally to educate the general public and school children over such happenings and also to eradicate or minimize such stereotyping.

Once again the citing of a specific country like Somalia as in the statement below show lack of understanding of global issues. We need to understand that such disasters can and will happen to anyone anywhere. "Where is New Orleans again?" New Orleans is next to Somalia.

Although this is a very difficult and painful time for the rest of Americans, its also a time of revelations and coming face to face with the realities of the world. America is a super power yes, but it does not and cannot control such happenings. The best that can be done is to deal with the disaster as its being done and stop making such comparisons. Denial is not a solution.

MY question is, how do teachers deal with such stereotyping in their daily teaching? How can they use such statements to educate the young?

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