On Some Ignorance ...

By Donald Hondongwa, Vassar College 11'

"The realization of my own ignorance really tore me down from my high horse of graces. It gave me a new perspective on the whole ignorance issue."

My first days in college were shocking, but nonetheless enlightening. When I arrived in the United States I was anticipating finding people who have no idea about what Zimbabwe was, not to mention where it was. During the orientation most of the conversations were all the same, "where are you from" being the most prominent one. "Zimbabwe" I would answer enthusiastically. "Where is that?" and an occasional "Oh Africa!" were the usual responses I got. The first explicitly making it clear that the person had no clue that the country existed at all and the second , giving off the American media vibe, that Africa is just one huge entity. In either case I took this as an indication of ignorance.

My experience afterwards shook this grave opinion of my new surroundings that I had established. All the classes that I had been thinking about for my writing seminar were full and I found myself in the class 'History, Narratives and Fiction' as my only other option. "How bad could fiction be?" I thought to myself, "even if it may have a bit of history, I am sure I can handle this." My wisdom or rather lack of it was to prove me wrong in time.

The class was mostly about analyzing the history of South West America as portrayed in western narratives and fictional writings. On the first day of class I found myself wanting, so much that I could not raise my hand to say anything. I had no idea what the professor was talking about half the time as the class assumed some knowledge of American history that I did not possess. My lack of knowledge of American history was an active handicap. Probably the only thing that I knew was the 4th of July, the American Independence Day, but not the year or from whom they got independent from. The answers to these questions had not been necessary for me to pass my ZIMSEC (Zimbabwe School Examination Council) Ordinary Level history.

The realization of my own ignorance really tore me down from my high horse of graces. It gave me a new perspective on the whole ignorance issue. How could it be that so many people, if not everybody could be found guilty on the charge of ignorance? Was it simply because man is incapable of knowing everything or is it just that there is a flaw in the education systems? According to James Truslow Adams, "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live." I guess the systems we all come from focuses on the former at most. So the system is to blame to a certain extent in this respect, although it is up to an individual how much they will consume of what is given to them.

Now you have two choices. You can take the easy way out and switch to another webpage from this article, because who cares, the whole world is ignorant, and we now have a culprit, the system; or you can read over this article again and find yourself to realize that you are part of the system and should be a part of making it right. You have to go the extra mile to be one of the few ones who realize the world is at their feet after all, and there are choices to be made and consequences to be dealt with.

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