Tribe-Education is the Reformation of Africa 

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Unless the tribes be educated, the African child would be mis-educated, confused and incapable. The reformation of Africa must start with the reform of the mindsets of the tribes; for the tribes make the mind of the child. The mind of the person is not given at birth but it is an emergent capacity whose actual shape and quality manifests in accordance with the quality of the intellectual atmosphere in which the child finds himself. Before the child learns anything, its learning capacity must first be built. That learning capacity called the mind, is structured and built by the quality of the intellectual atmosphere in which breathes the child. The architecture for the creation of the individual mind include the tempo, the rhythms and the patterns of relationships and recurring events of the tribe. Let’s call these things the tribal universe. The tribal universe creates the tribal order that define the intellectual orientations and limits that act as pillars, foundations and ceilings for the intellectual house called the mind of the person. The tribal order creates the frequencies for the radio of the person. Although the frequencies might be elastic, the maximum tribal wavelength is the farthest the person can reach. The tribal order is therefore, at once the enabler and the limiter of minds.

Given the important role that the tribal order plays in the creation of the mind of the person, the quality of the tribal order must be as important as the quality of the instruction being given to the child at school or elsewhere. For where the intellectual frequencies bestowed on the child are boxed or relatively disabling, no amount of fine-tuning can enable an analog mind to access and to digest digital broadcasts. It would be useful to think of courses as applications; with the mind as the operating system. As I have already shown, the mind of the person is carved out of the quality and the power of both the spoken and of the unspoken tribal order in which the person breathes, moves and has his or her being. The quality, the coherence, the depth, the networks, the variety and the elasticity of the perceptive and analytical framework that form the individual’s mind arise from the tribal order in the same way that each individual molecule reflects the quality of the river of which they are a part.

It is important to understand that before language is learned and before speech; the fundamental intellectual orientation called the mind is organized by the tribal order through the individual’s constant immersion or presence of the person within the tribal universe under the tribe’s ordersphere. The tribal order acts as the intellectual and emotional authority that orients each tribe member towards perceiving and navigating reality in a particular way. If you can think of the ordersphere as the tribe’s authoritative intellectual vehicle, it enables the journeying and the same time, it fixes the direction, the destination, the comfort and the maximum intellectual speed of its members. Like water in a vessel, the particularity of any given mind in the tribe manifests as a consequence of the volume, the shape and the quality of the container of the tribe into which the person is born and swims. Just as the language of the person is collective in origin and community-dependent so too is the mental framework of the person tribal in origin and tribe-dependent. You are your tribe or at least a part of it. A molecule can be named and even separated from the river; but it is the river or at least an identical fraction of the river. Thus, small minded tribes make for little minds. Great minded tribes create geniuses. The quality of the logical universe of the tribe manifesting as the tribal order, build the quality of the perceptive and the analytical framework that is the mind of the person. Before there can be thinking, there must be a thinker. The thinker is created or assembled by the tribal order. Any intellectual channel that is outside of the tribal frequencies, would be inaccessible to the person and it would not be part of the mind-shaping symmetries. What is not an option to the tribe would hardly be an option to the person. Your ‘mind stuff’ are assembled in a particular way as a consequence of your constant or total immersion in tribal logic or in tribal incoherence as the case may be.

The know-ability of the person is a subset of the know-ability of his tribe. The mind of the person is not something that is manifest at birth as a ready function. If you can think of the brain as a computer, the tribal order is the operating system that when “installed” on the person as a result of his immersion in the community, creates the intellectual pathways or rhythms that become the stable-coherence that enables individual applications such as language, discourse, blah, blah, blah to interface and to be digested. Just as the form that the clay ultimately becomes, depends on the pottery and of the designs of the tribe in which he finds himself, so too does the shape of the intellectual clay of the person reflect his tribal pottery. The mind is operationalized or “created’ by the tribe through its universe characterized by its tempos, sequences, powers; norms, vision, pathways, options and possibilities that provide the architecture and the building blocks of the mind from the very beginning and throughout. Let’s liken the person to a plant. The quality of the plant is determined by the quality of the garden or the forest in which the plant is born. The quality of the know-ability of the person is shaped by the quality of the knowns and of the knowables breathed daily by the person from birth. What is real to the person as a consequence of the tribal order or by way of tribal chaos; or by way of science or superstition; or by way of beauty or filth; or by way of myopia or limitless possibilities, fix and build what we call the mind of the person. The depth, quality, direction, elasticity and truth-ability of the person are built as part of the being, of the identity and of the intellectual options that form the mental lab from which are performed the countless tasks tests that are also known as inferences. Let me repeat. Tribal intellect determine individual intellect and of its capacities and elasticities.

Thus, child-education cannot ignore the tribal order. In fact, since are tribes are not created equal, it must follow that the intellectual prospects of some children are doomed by the simplest fact of being born into the “wrong” tribes. A dysfunctional or very limiting operating system assures the intellectual handicap that makes nonsense of all the lofty theories of charts, arts and stars. Where the tribe is dumb, the child is ruined from the very beginning. If you do nothing about a tribal order and proceed to teach the child from a slow tribe, you do nothing but treat the patient without treating the source of the infection. If you want to heal the infected person, you must deal with the infected group in which he breathes and lives. Tribe-capacity is
individual-capacity. The person is a part of the tribe in the same way that the tribe is an extension of the person. Thus, what the tribe is, he is. If the tribe be dull, he is dull. If the tribe be genius, he is. Educate the tribe and you educate the person. Educate the person and you confuse the tribe.

Unfortunately, many scholars on education, are not aware of the foregoing and appear to support the proposition that in order for people to be intelligent it is enough to instruct the person from good books or from good teachers. To many scholars, intelligence is a function of good reads or good memory, as applied. According to this line of thinking, the more great works you memorize, the more you know. What they forget is that before the reading starts, before thinking starts, the reader, the thinker must be built. The quality and type of the tribal intellectual architecture and structure ultimately determine the quality of the reading, thinking and of intelligence of the person. The mind-formation order must be a key part of any system of education that is serious about natural intelligence and about reducing the inequality of intellectual capacities between men.

As I have shown above, learning is only a portion of intelligence for intelligence is made up of two functions namely, “knowledge + inference”. Knowledge is what is gained through instruction or through schooling. What is acquired through schooling however, has the distinct disadvantage of being limited to the accumulated quantum. Anything beyond what is memorized remains unknown and distant. Schooled persons are ignorant of what is outside of their classrooms and libraries. The second portion of intelligence is inferential ability. Inference is the ability to correctly recognize the identity or the nature of the next event from an existing or presented event. That ability is largely founded on perspective, on orientation and on a worldview that presents itself as the habit, the ‘nature’ or the ‘automatic reaction’ of the person. The process of inference when correctly understood, does not arise as a result of moving from one known fact to another unknown fact or from one known truth to another unknown truth. There is no magic carpet that automatically transports, as it were, the memory of events to the reality of the unknown. If there were such a carpet, people sharing the same memories would have the same inferential capacities. But that is obviously not the case. People go to the same schools; they may have the same instructions from the same teachers and they may even have the same scores but they could have markedly different inferential capacities. The reason simply is that correct inferencing is an exercise in matching. There must exist within the universe of the person whole sets of orders, elasticities, universes, possibilities and options inherited as part of his identity or being, in which the posited event or fact is slotted and its proper position or relationship in space and time decoded as a result. Thus, where the person is coming from and who the person is, are as important for inferences, as the correct presentation of facts.

The inferential ability of the person whose sky is a hard, limited concrete ceiling is different from the inferential ability of a person whose sky is a passable and an elastic infinity.  The inferential ability of the person whose logical framework is instability, incoherence, chaos or contradictions, is different from the inferential ability of a person whose logical framework is infinite interconnectedness and symmetry of all things and of sequential consistencies admitting of no jumps or disorder. The rhythms, the tempos, the imagination, the narratives, the myths, the voices, the visions, the relationships, the possibilities that shape and characterize the inferential ability of the person are not given by instruction but by presence within a dominant culture also known as the tribal order. The tribal order or the tribal chaos; the limits or the possibilities; and the powers or the weaknesses of the tribe form as it were, the ‘lanes’, body, direction and the quality of the mind of the person. Before the child begins to learn the alphabet he has either already acquired a mud of a mind or a sky of a mind. Some children acquire crippled minds and come to school with this disability whilst others inherit Olympic minds and come to school with champion capacities. Many students have already failed their examinations even before they start writing. Before studies can lead to proper inferences, the correct inferential capacity must exist. Those persons who are unfortunate enough to be raised by chaotic tribal orders acquire incoherence as their intellectual authority. This leads to all sorts of illogic in their orientations and presentations. Such miserables, will make many wrong inferences regardless of how many books they read or regardless of how many facts they witness. The intellectual radios of many people are tuned to channels that simply do not permit them access to high quality, elastic and infinite broadcasts.


Let me explain further. Inferential ability is not something that is acquired from books or from so-called quality instructions. Rather, inferential ability is acquired as part of the tribal order; of the authority; as part of the language; as part of the play, of the conflicts; of the myths, of the norms, of the discoveries, of the challenges and as part of realities of the tribe of the person. These form the being, the nature and the capacity of the person. This is not given by the school but it is brought to the school. Before he learns, he is. The “is determines the learning. When the stuff that makes up the learner “is” is crooked, all the schooling in world goes haywire. The mind of a person is a function of both what he has learned (schooling) and of what his orientation (identity). The tribe of which the person is an active member, affects and shapes the quality and the capacity of the mind of the person “automatically” in ways that reflect the quality and the capacity of the ‘mind’ of that body or tribe. Once a person is “plugged in”, as it were, into a body of persons, he no longer has the luxury of intellectual freedom. The self of the person is always ‘more’ than meets the eye but it with more comes “unfreedom”. With tribal dependence, comes all the consequences of tribal ascendance or tribal decadence. The dominant group to which a person is subject, defines and therefore limits the total functional, logical and symmetrical space of the person as well as his tempo; his possibilities, his options and of the total inferences that he can make as an expression of his fundamental intellectual orientation.

Where the group or tribe to which the person is subject is brilliant, the person is or becomes brilliant. Where the group or tribe is slow, the person is or becomes slow. Each person relates to his tribe in the same way as the organs making up a body lose their so-called independence and are affected by the health of the body itself or by the health and functions of active members of the body. Membership is being. Being is knowing. Knowing is doing. Therefore, membership within a particular tribe or group is as important for intelligence and for performance as the so-called brain-capacity of the person. Intelligence is indeed, the individual’s brain-capacity multiplied by the tribe’s brain-capacity.

The foregoing have consequences for the quality of education and for enhanced global competitiveness. Those who fail to describe intelligence correctly teach wrongly. Those who fail to understand how knowledge is acquired correctly, learn wrongly. The educational paradigm of many nations and institutions is based on the description of intelligence as the result of quality brain-contents. This worldview appears to posit that learning-ability is part of learning and that schooling makes the learner. I have already explained that this is not the case and that the learner is made, before he learns. Nevertheless, because this fact is not understood by many, a great deal of the teaching efforts of many schools concentrate on the instruction of individuals on sets of canned knowledge the mastery of which is presumed to result in individual wisdom or expertise. Tribal education is not on the curriculum of any school. But if you have followed me so far, you can see how misleading and incomplete our schools must be.

The individualistic and quantitative paradigm of knowledge espoused by many people, misses a very important truth about intelligence and of knowledge. In the first place, as I have already shown, intelligence is shaped by being; by who you are with; by what your tribesmen are doing; by what is before and around you and by what you believe to be true and possible because of where you are. Intelligence is not just a matter of reading this or that book or watching this or that video. How your mind has been built determines what your mind can notice, appreciate and use. Secondly, in so far as knowledge is a human exercise, its development or the lack of it is necessarily influenced by the quality of the vision and of the mindset of the person. For indeed, if we treat any body of knowledge as a statement, new knowledge can arise from the old only when we make correct inferences from the existing ones. Inferences however are functions both of a). Logic and of b). suggestions. Suggestions include realities and inspirations from the works of others. Thus, tribe-vision, tribe-capacity, tribe-coherence, tribe-achievements and tribe-options are as important for making correct inferences as so-called-logic or science.

The tribe is a school. Unlike regular schools however, the learning comes from the being; from the relationships and from the pulls and supports of others. Being pushed and shoved here and there makes you ‘you’ and that determines how you appreciate and navigate the world. The intellectual and emotional bias or orientation that comes from significant membership in a particular tribe is the result of the fixed roles, from the fixed rhythms, from the fixed plays; from fixed options, from fixed possibilities and from the fixed symphonies to which the individual is subject to continuously day in and day out in the tribal order. The “intuition” and the knowing that comes from the tribal order is being in the universe of tribal realities of illusions as the case may be. We are the world we inhabit and are formed by the realities that seem to us inevitable, unchangeable or simply natural. Tribal orders continuously work on the mind and feelings of the person in continuously organic and almost automatic ways. This tribal control over human capacity can make the difference between originality and trivia; and between creativity and docility. The inferences that a member of tribe “A” may make from a posited knowledge may sound strange and even crazy to a member of tribe “F” presented with the same data. Tribe membership is the lens through which many see and analyze the world. Where the lens is chaotic, nothing but nonsense is what they see.


In addition to the foregoing let me add that there is a certain type of knowing that can only arise from active participation in group act-ivities on a coherent project. Here the “doing”, the “relating” and the “testing” by members with assigned roles within the team, create significant and unique effects on the mindsets, on the feelings and worldviews of the participants. The type of knowledge that occurs from being an active team player on a useful project is often fluid, spontaneous, shared, felt and event-specific. Such knowledge impact on the persons within the team to alter and to shape their sensitivities and competencies. Yet, such knowledge being “almost personal” cannot be captured separately from the person’s experience(s) of the event itself or outside of its impact on the actors. This type of knowledge is not necessarily an external or discrete quantity independent of its imprints on its actors. Therefore, it does not lend itself to be passed on to other as lessons to be learned outside of the select act-ivities. Being present as a member or as a part of a passionate crowd; or being an active player in a team for a competitive game; or being a contributing member of a creative team on a useful project, can create a type of knowledge not only as to group dynamics and as to how some things work, but as to evolving or unique possibilities and options that could not have been envisaged prior to or outside of the group-work or named event. That type of knowledge necessarily require witnessing or active participation in the unique event in a way that cannot be accurately captured by cold devices or by absentee third parties. When the tribe engages in unique and continuous events with the individual as an active member, one can easily see how the person gets shaped by his membership in ways that are difficult to duplicate outside of the tribal order. There is such a thing as learning from being such and such a person at such and such a place with such and such group on such and such projects. That knowledge might be more appropriately be described as special, personal, inspirational, motivational, intuitional, etc. Persons outside of the unique event or the tribe that creates the special knowledge may not be able to appreciate such knowledge or ignorance for the simple reason that they lack the key requirement for capturing it namely, active and continuous participation in the team as a contributor for the stated project. If you want to know how it feels like to be a wet tribesman, you have to swim in tribal waters.

My point is that there are some things that can only be known by those who witness the event as it happens and not by reports of those who witnessed it or heard about it from witnesses. This leads to the possibility of unique or secret knowledge that occurs principally from continuous exclusivity of immersion; but not from lack of access to reports of the team or from being spectators of the team at work. You can get all the reports and of the videos you want from the tribe. But as to how it felt and how it feels to have been there or to have been a contributing member of the tribe on the project, if you were not a member of the tribe and a part of the team, you would never know. Being is witness. Invitation is presence. Presence is witness. Witness is knowledge. Knowledge is intelligence.


The type, quality and power of the inspiration that arises spontaneously from the play of a single instrument is of a different order than the inspiration caused by symphonies and the plays of teams. The type of understanding and inferences that result from being a participant and a witness in a gala is unique and of a different nature from the learning and inferences that occur from being a lone player at a single match. Remarkably, the effect of the continuous actions of the multitudes on learning, on knowledge and on creativity of the individual, cannot be anticipated in solitude or appreciated in the absence of such actions. This is because there are two types of knowledge. One form of knowledge can be stored and transmitted through records such as books, reports and so on. The second type of knowledge is like the experience of a rainstorm at a particular place and time. What the storm feels like upon those caught in it, cannot be duplicated or even correctly described. Some events unfold only in unique settings of time and space and same cannot be accessed or duplicated outside of that setting. That which arises through boiling cannot be appreciated at the ice-lounge.

Tribal activities create both spatial and permanent group realities that are at the same time the individual’s realities in ways that shape their feelings, vision, options, and therefore of their inferences about other realities and possibilities. Some of the spatial realities of particular tribes may have real and significant impacts on participants but like time, you cannot step into it again, once it has passed. Team-plays create team expertise. Such expertise have both manifest and nuanced effects on participating individual sensitivities, perspectives and creativity. Tribe cooperation create group-conditioning on contributing individuals within the team in such ways as to significantly determine or effect individual understanding, competencies and contributions. Those absent at the gathering of the learned, may access reports of the gathering but they cannot access what it felt like to be embraced, touched or pushed by the crowd. Some things cannot be felt through reports but only through participatory presence only. Herein lies the unbridgeable gap between learned tribes and learned individuals and between ignorant tribes and ignorant individuals. Learned tribes are rooted in great orders saved by a culture of the rule of law and of scientific disciplines. They know what is real and what is not and they build the correct tools and relationships to help them know and do more. What the learned tribe bestows on her children can only be known by its members fully active in the “game”. Non-members have secondary or inferior access to the tribe’s productions or industries. For there is a learning that occurs from being active in group-work and that learning only happens to those being so present during the work in progress. What the mother’s milk does to the bond between the child and the mother, no other milk would do.

The gathering is the inspiration. The symphony is the adventure. The tribe is the vision. Their physical, intellectual, economic, emotional, legal, political and even comical limitations affect how you see the world and see others around you. Look. Even the famous maestro by his mind alone, cannot know how the yet to be played new symphony would feel like. But when the symphony is at play, the genius would be inspired to play that which neither he nor the individual players in the symphony could have played in the absence of the symphony. The dance of the tribesman is dictated by the music of the tribe. The tribal symphony creates new conditions, new environments, new relationships and new realities that act as causes of new plays, new inspirations and new rhythms as felt by the attentive player.

Just as it is difficult for an individual to remain healthy in plague-infected colony, so too it is difficult for a person to be creative in a largely dull tribe or society. The power of the collective malaise inevitably infects and sickens the healthy individual. The tribe is linked to the individual as the molecule is linked to the fountain. Tribal order creates the overall intellectual capacity of the person that is called the mind. Tribal intelligence is individual intelligence. Before the child goes to school, his schooling-capacity has long been determined. Therefore, those who are interested in shaping the intellectual capacities of the child must look to tribal capacity and help increase the coherence, creativity and greatness of the tribal order before the mind of the child is formed. It is not possible to fully educate the individual without educating his tribe. On the flip side, the same goes for the creative community. Just as the person easily learns the language of his tribe, so too does the person easily acquire the great wisdom of his tribe just by being an active member of the tribe. Thus, as we focus on educating people, we must not only focus on individual instruction, but must find ways to make the tribes more intelligent. An intelligent tribe is a more natural and more efficient way of producing intelligent persons. But how do we make tribes wise or more competitive? Seek ye first the great order nurtured by a culture of the rule of law and live by the logic and the coherence of scientific disciplines driven by great projects. Think about it. My tribe and I, have spoken. What is your tribe?

By Dr. Nana Oppong

The writter is the President of the Distinguished Scholars of Africa (DistinSA)

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