Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Degrees of Separation

One specific aspect of development Hau’ofa also comments on is the Tikong view of higher education. Higher education in “under-developed” countries is not as common as in more developed countries, and usually people of the underdeveloped countries must travel outside their home to attend a university. This is another example of natives bringing foreign ideas back to their home country. For the most part in this book, higher education is looked down upon by the natives, while those with higher education look down upon the natives.

In the chapter “Paths to Glory” we see Tevito Pito’s uncle criticizing his “many degrees.” Even a taxi driver says to him “You’re a Wise Man and a Scholar, and I’m uneducated and ignorant…why do you Wise Men always sit up there looking down on us? Why don’t you ever come down to our level?” (p. 46). The natives assume the educated are condescending, and the educated assume the natives are not as intelligent.

Tevito Pito’s uncle is unhappy with several things about Tevito Pito, including his unkempt appearance which doesn’t match his education. He’s also upset that Tevito Pito is criticizing the government and the church. Now that Tevito Pito has his education from outside of the country, he thinks some of the institutions in Tiko are inferior to others he has experienced. The natives seem to fear that university graduates will come home and try to make Tiko more like the big cities with universities. In “The Second Coming,” Sailosi tells this to his Tikong staff, saying “What’s the use of having our own professionals and technicians if all they’re interested in is more pay, changing our sacred traditions, and destroying our essential indigenous personality?” (p. 52). As Callie pointed out earlier, some of these workers attempt to change their appearance to try to get ahead in the workplace. Each deputy director Sailosi hires is “a young university graduate whom he considered over-talented and miseducated” (p. 51). Some of the natives do not value higher education, some are afraid of it, and others think it is misused. The main reason for all these sentiments seems to be an attempt to hold on to cultural idenity.

Unfortunately this still occurs today. More prosperous countries often invade poorer countries and enforce their ideals, because wealthier nations feel it is necessary for the particular country. What these wealthier countries fail to recognize is the loss of culture that occurs by implementing one idea throughout the world.

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