So, what is the ‘root causes’for the very few Ethiopian educated elites to evade politics? This is what I was pondering for a while and come up with three structural problems that obliterate theactive mindsof Ethiopian educated elites. Hence, am arguing that the educated elites dodge politics due these philosophical and/or political problems. For a clear contextual understanding the three problems are abstracted and ordered in three different layers: at World, Continental (Africa) and National (Ethiopia) level, respectively.
The first reason, which is a common trend in the world, is that the educated elites “compartmentalize” their mind, and then evade politics hoping to find protection from the irrationality that is prevalent in the field. According toAyn Rand,such a prehistorical savagery is made possible by the psycho-epistemology of educated elites who escape into the physical sciences (or technology or industry or business), hoping to find protection from human irrationality, and abandoning the field of ideas to the enemies of reason.2 She even exemplifies this trend by comparing Albert Einstein’s scientific achievement to his political views.
On the second layer, the education system in Africa is the victim of a western epistemological “export,” and “import,” which is distinctive to Ethiopia, which takes in the form of science as ideology and hegemony. Africans generally would have to continue to ponder the entire issue of decolonization as long as our sense of selfhood remains obscured, our economies in a state of prostration and our social and political institutions plagued by cancerous disintegration.3 Nyamnjoh asserts that under the western epistemological export, education in Africa and/or for Africans has been like a pilgrimage to the Kilimanjaro of western intellectual ideals, the tortuous route to Calvary for alternative of ways of life.
Human knowledge, though based on sensory perception, is conceptual in nature, and on the conceptual level of consciousness displays a new feature: it is not automatic or infallible; whether through ignorance or evasion, it can make mistake, distort, or departs from reality.4The knowledge that we taught and/or acquired in different scientific disciplines is developed through conceptual integration into set of abstract principles that purports to be either a correct description of reality or a set of guidelines for man’s actions. For most of us (Ethiopians), the knowledge that we learnt in school or college in the form of theories, skills, principles, guidelines, rules, procedures, etc, are, often, do not confirm to the existing reality nor guide our action. Thus, it is habitual for most of “us” to evade this ambiguity with the notion“good in theory but it doesn’t work in practice.”
Rather, since the education system is not designed in a way that addresses the predicaments of the nation, the values that we learn are often irrelevant and the knowledge is invalid. Nyamnjoh affirms that the knowledge needed for African development is rendered irrelevant by a dysfunctional set of values, and in this regard, development in Africa is hindered and retarded. He adds, the need for Africa to revisit the dominant epistemological underpinnings of western education that are not always sensitive to the predicaments and expectations of ordinary Africans.5
Hence, ‘epistemological crisis’ is a structural problem in the whole Africa that makes all our educated elites impervious to new ideas and facts. Due to the wrong epistemological assumptions and structures “we” all are unable to make conceptual integration on what we learn nor able critically examine a problem in its entirety.