The Athens of West Africa: A History of International Education at Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone

The Athens of West Africa: A History of International Education at Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone

The Athens of West Africa: A History of International Education at Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone

The Athens of West Africa: A History of International Education at Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Synopsis

This book is about Fourah Bay College (FBC) and its role as an institution of higher learning in both its African and international context. The study traces the College's development through periods of missionary education (1816-1876), colonial education (1876-1938), and development education (1938-2001).

Excerpt

This book is about Fourah Bay College (FBC) and its role as an institution of higher learning in both its African and international context. The study traces the College's development through periods of missionary education (1787-1875), colonial education (1876-1937), and development education (1938-2001). FBC's unique construction as a socio-cultural microcosm of the political, racial, religious, and social tensions that characterized the colonial and postcolonial revolutions in West Africa makes its history a valuable resource for gaining insight into the ways certain epistemologies and ideologies collide to form institutions that shape society.

Part One (1787-1875) analyzes the impact of FBC's missionary roots. FBC was known as the "Athens of West Africa" due to a strong focus within its curriculum on learning Greek and Latin and because of the unparalleled success of its graduates at home and abroad. The text most often employed for the study of Greek was the Greek New Testament. Founded by the Anglican Church, FBC was not a secular college. Students studied to become priests and catechists and helped spread Christianity throughout West Africa. It is the oldest Westernstyled college in Africa.

Missionary Education encompassed a complex mix of well-intentioned humanitarianism, rigid indoctrination, and economic expansionism. Liberated slaves and returned diasporan Africans played a central role in helping to end the slave trade and in the development of a primarily Western-styled educational system for West Africa. African and European missionary scholars were actively involved in linguistic transcription and translated the Bible into the many languages of West Africa. The period provided a measure of freedom and opportunity to Western-educated Africans.

Part Two (1876-1937) analyzes the complex forces at work at FBC aiding and resisting colonial rule. The transition from slavery to colonialism was not peaceful or conducive to local development. European powers such as Great Britain attempted to establish monopoly control over the entire African continent and an emerging global market. Christianity, a powerful vehicle for spreading Western education and culture as well as a rationale for denigrating traditional African cultural knowledge and social institutions, was as pervasive as colonialism. European missionaries and colonial governments operated in concert to maintain their hegemonic control. This occurred as church and state split apart in Europe and the United States. Although FBC's African faculty and students tended to support the integration of West Africa into the global community, they consistently opposed colonial rule. African scholars repeatedly recommended to the European administrators to include courses in African languages and culture. They made little progress. The emerging African educated elite of the twentieth century challenged both traditional African and European authority.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.