Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Multicultural Education As A Component For Promoting Peace

We all look at the world through various self-created or society imposed lenses that may sometimes be colored or out rightly distorted or warped.

These lenses through which we view the actions and experiences of other people are actually based on our personal experiences and sociocultural backgrounds, which may actually not be similar to that of the other person. We all have some set of ideals and beliefs, which we regard to be “Right” and others we classify as being “Wrong”.

Coming from a multicultural parental origin, I have had reasons to disagree with some misconceptions that feed prejudices and discriminations in my society. But I always sought to find out the reasons why people why some people say, do, or believe in different aspects of their cultures. I have grown to be less judgmental to people’s viewpoints even when they are opposite of mine. I ensure I state my views and allow you to state yours, if I am able to spot misconceptions in your view, I guide you to see them. If you still hold on to them, at least I have made you aware of how I feel about your views. This awareness could lead to critical examination of these views you are holding.

There are diverse extreme viewpoints on virtually every subject under the sun. So I am ever ready to hear some new view I had previously never heard. In questioning the veracity or logic of a view, I am sometimes forced to examine my own views. So, it is a situation of no one is right and no one is wrong, we are all striving towards making tomorrow’s world a better place. And we can only build a better culture from the amalgamation of the best practices of the diverse cultures we presently have.

I was born into a Muslim family of mixed cultural heritage, attended a Christian mission-run Nursery/Primary School, attended a Islamic Koranic Madrasat, attended a secular Secondary school and polytechnic, trained as an ICT technician/educator; I have travelled to, and lived in five different countries within the African continent (Nigeria, Niger, Libya, Algeria & Burkina Faso).

The width of my background, has allowed me to experience diverse socio-cultural realities, I have learnt to understand that to truly understand a person or group, you simply had to be willing to dig beyond the immediate, perceived reality. You need to look beyond what a person is saying or doing now. You need to understand why s/he is saying or doing so.

With my foray into the ICT world which luckily speaks only one global language of “Ones” and “Zeroes”, coupled with my interactions with people through the World Wide Web, I am mostly concerned with understanding the WHY of other peoples’ actions and words rather than imposing my view on them. Who knows, we might both proven wrong in the future!

There is always the temptation to try getting others to adopt your viewpoints (especially on issues you feel very knowledgeable or hold strong convictions about); but I don’t think it should be a case of imposition or assimilation, it’d be much better to put my views and supporting evidences (if any) on the tale and get you to do the same. Then we could both work through the similarities and possible contradictions with a view to understanding why each of us holds his/her view.

Like I mentioned earlier, there are people who take extreme stances on issues, but most of the times, an attentive listening ear with an open mind could bring even the core extremists to re-examine their stances.

Many people hold on to biases and prejudices, which they simply inherited or acquired, unchallenged from their society. Asking them “Why” could lead them to ask question their views and possibly reach a new realization that could lead to a positive transformation

On a personal note, taking such an open-minded approach brings me to face some questions on my views and beliefs myself. Instead of going on the defence, it serves me as a two-way process, if I tell I believe in something and you question my belief with strong facts, I am forced to reflect on these beliefs and could possibly come up with some answers that could make both me and you better people.


  1. Ibrahim,

    Many conflicts could be avoided if each side had been willing to listen to the other side's viewpoint. I'm afraid the world for the most part is still at the identity based world view stage. Hopefully, with the increase of peace education we can advance to a unity based view point.

  2. Gwen,
    YOu are right, if we'd simply listen to the other person be willing to make compromises for peace to reign, most conflicts will be simply end as verba discussions.


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This work by Ibrahim K. Oyekanmi (mallamibro@gmail.com) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.