Overcoming the fear of teaching and learning history in Nigeria for a better society

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learning history

Map-reading is a most important skill for pedestrian or automobile travellers, as it guides them on their journey. Maps help travellers to appreciate how much they have travelled, to acknowledge and prepare for the remaining. Without maps, travellers may never know where they have been to, or where they are going. Human societies continuously aim to advance in their civilization, technological productivity and social justice. However, without learning history, they may not measure their progress nor determine their future.

Most of the strongest civilizations in the world today developed by knowing one another through learning history. No matter how much humans detest or wish to alter their histories, the truths about their histories are unchanged. Some people alter histories by discarding chunks of data, focusing on irrelevant data and assigning higher weight to one element.[1] However, great civilizations make reparations and reconcile with the ugly parts of their histories, and build on their better history. Learning history contributes in the fundamental development of knowledge and civilization through different ways:


  • Learning history helps us understand the world: it helps us to understand how the world worked then and how it works now.[2] It takes us closer to personalities, happenings and events in the past we can know about and learn how things have changed ever since.


  • Learning history tells us who we are, where our ancestors came from, the society and culture that they lived in and what we inherited from them.


  • It helps us judge wisely for the future: histories serve as templates for the present by showing why people behave in a particular manner. Decision makers resort to history to make factual judgments based on the happenings of events and related facts. If we study the successes and failures of the past, we may, ideally, be able to learn from our mistakes and avoid repeating them in the future.[3]


  • Learning history helps us become good citizens: A democracy, or any other form of governance, is reformist only when it is filled with informed citizens, who know their roots, cultures and cultural diversities, understand the need for a wise and fair development of their society.[4]

With these numerous advantages, the absence of history in Nigerian curriculum remains a cause for worry among conscientious observers. Nigeria was formed by British colonialists who brutally yoked unconsented communities under a militarized government for exploitation.[5] The colonialists would not have achieved everything they did without the help of some indigenous people. Those indigenous people who assisted the colonialists are also humans who desire decent history and reputation for themselves. Also, some data and figures used in the formation of Nigerian structure were allegedly manipulated to continuously favour some people.[6] Hence, both the former colonial assistants and beneficiaries of the false data may resist proper dissemination of history in Nigeria.


Despite the fear of losing historical decency, Nigeria needs to clarify its history and move forward. Great people do not focus on the faults, but on the strengths upon which a better future can be built. And there are good sides to all the actors in Nigeria’s chequered history; for every saint has a past, every sinner has a future. Moreover, Nigeria has to build on better history, not on the worse. Nigeria needs to learn its history anew, not to antagonize the actors, but to find common grounds for a new Nigeria.


A sincere Nigerian government will arise to direct the clarification of Nigeria’s history for good. This clarification will emphasize the greatness in all sections and actors in the Nigerian journey for good.

[1] Farouk Radwan, “How people twist the facts to support their beliefs” in 2KNOWMYSELF https://www.2knowmyself.com/how_people_twist_the_facts_to_support_their_beliefs. Retrieved 4th April, 2018

[2] Arun Thakur, “Top ten reasons to study history” in TOPYAPS, 7th JAN, 2013. https://topyaps.com/top-10-reasons-to-study-history. retrieved 5th April, 2018.

[3] “Why is it important to study history? Explain your answer. ” eNotes, 18 Jan. 2009, https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/why-important-study-history-explain-your-answer-389341. Accessed 3 Apr. 2018.

[4] Cf. Ibid

[5] S. O. Oyedele, Federalism in Nigeria, In Issues in contemporary political economy of Nigeria. edited by Hassan A. Saliu. (Ilorin: T.A. Olayeri Publishers, 1999). p57

[6] Barry Mason, “Britain rigged election before Nigerian independence” in World Socialist Website https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2007/08/nige-a09.html retrieved 15th December 2017