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why study history

WHY STUDY HISTORY?

History is the study of everyday, it is the past that was lived a few seconds ago, and it is a yardstick for measuring today in order to build on the future. My secondary school history Teacher taught us that; “History is the reconstruction from the past in order to construct the present and future. One salient fact to know about history is that it is repeated every single day, but it is perfectly disguised under a garment called change, and a coat of many colors called advancement or civilization.  There is indeed nothing new under the sun, the same old deeds that have been done in times past from the earliest days of man are the same deeds and mistakes being repeated in the world of today but in a more advanced way.

The same mad rush for wealth, gold and easy money that led to the Great depression of 1929  lurked its ugly face in the 2008 Global economic crisis and the world should definitely anticipate another reign of despair in the international financial system of the world in the nearest future. the signs are there to remind us that the current mad rush for Bit coin, online and digital currency that the world is chasing after, was the same way the citizenry of the US and the world major economies in the 1920s spent a lot to purchase securities and investments, ignorantly throwing their money to get cheap and easy double returns, history taught us that nothing good comes easy, cheap money isn’t really cheap and it does not last, in economy the law of diminishing returns will always take effect, in the sense that; whenever the financial stock market of the world reaches a point of excess, or the peak of the chart,  it always comes crashing leading to depression, recession, inflation and economic meltdowns, even the law of gravity says that; “Any object or mass that reaches its point of elasticity or its peak,  must surely come down”. Well history always repeats itself but we fail to learn from its classroom.

Irrational political decisions, left and right wing debates, threat games, mistrust, lobbying and trading of words among countries and Nations in ancient times were the immediate cause of devastating wars across history which led to countless loss of lives. The first world war was fought because there was a failure of diplomacy and wrong political decisions among the territories and powers in Europe and America, these same problems of mindless politicking, failure of diplomacy and dialoguing, mistrusts, clash of economic and political interests preceded the years that led to the second world war which was a massive waste of human life. This did not teach mankind a lesson about how wars are destructive, the cold war was also caused by the factors stated above, as well as the clash of the Eastern and Western Bloc and a mindless flaunt of power to cause fear and terror in the hearts of many. The cold war was largely a war of threats and passive aggression, the gulf war was also caused by varied interests, external interference in the affairs of the Middle East, which all boils down to the failure of diplomacy, which is history repeating itself again and again. If history is right, many observers have rightly predicted a future world war which would largely be a war of the skies and a nuclear war.  According to many war experts; this war would wipe out one third of humanity and cause a global devastation. When we ignore history, it will always come back to haunt the present and future. When it repeats itself, it helps to unmask the veil that prevented our eyes from seeing the dangers in the waves of the moment. History teaches valuable lessons only when we are ready to learn.

Africa is in a big mess today because we have failed to change our leadership. The same leaders that destroyed the future of today in yesterday as Military Dictators came back as repented Saintly Democrats to seek power again and advance their political ambitions and Game plan. These same leaders have sat on the fortunes and future development of their countries, thus Africa is like a lost child that keeps revolving round the same vicious cycle of poverty and underdevelopment. Until there is a change of leadership and an overhaul of our failed systems, Africa would remain the same, there is a saying that; “Old Soldier never dies” if only Africans would go back to the classroom of experience and study their history and past, then our eyes would be opened to the woes that has weighed us down for too long.

History and time are close companions, but unfortunately, history has been cursed since the beginning to always trail behind time and number the days as they come by before she can be lived. History works hand-in-hand with experience, because every history made is an experience gained which would be useful in building today, and serve as a point of reference in the future. Every student of experience is also a student of history, because the past is an experience which must always be documented in the record books of history.

The Middle East has been an unfaithful student of history; she has been a theatre of war and bloodshed from the first centuries. Her land has swallowed millions of lives in her blood drenched earth, but it was not so from the beginning, the past of the Middle East was one where she was once the fertile crescent where Great Empires and civilizations like; Persia, Babylon, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Ottoman Empire and Syria once thrived,  but the harsh dessert wind of war, conflicts and acrimonies blew from the ends of the earth and wiped away an entire civilization from the pages of history. This Region was torn apart by wars, conflicts, religious and tribal clashes, and these all contributed to her current state, age-long land disputes between Israel, Palestine and Gaza in the Gaza strip played a major role in the endless wars in the Middle East and it seems unending because the Arabs have failed to learn from history, this region is still divided today by mindless religious and tribal disagreements as is the case in Afghanistan, the endless land dispute between Israel, Palestine and Gaza, Proxy wars and interest games between western Nations on her soil, etc. The Middle East is in a big mess today because she has failed to use her dreadful past of bloodshed, pains and agony as a yardstick in correcting the ills of today so as to usher in a bright future. Well, there is nothing new under the sun.

The study of life, science and nature needs history as these fields must all delve into the past to help unravel the unsolved mysteries behind the origin of creation, the known and unknown world and life itself. The natural sciences such as biology must study the history of how man came into being if the theory of evolution is actually true, then a Biologist must study the origins of plants, animals, rocks and stones. Physics and space science need history to unravel the origin of the many planets that roam round the sun; they study the origin of stars and other heavenly bodies. Chemistry also needs history in order for us to know how the various chemicals, compounds, atoms and cells combined to form matter and energy. History is an all-round field that must be studied in all fields and professions in the world. It is needed in the world of yesterday, today and the future.

History has a special connection with the source of Infinite knowledge; it can never end until the end of time itself. The memory that houses the store house of history can never be full; it keeps refilling and refilling itself. History is a long tale that tells the story of everything from the past deeds, to the present and future deeds of man, animals, inanimate objects and the entire universe. History is an interesting subject as a field of study, it tells interesting stories of past existences from time immemorial and events that just happened now, although it can be distorted in many forms, but the truth in the record books of history can never fade. The tales and stories in history must be told till infinity. An Historian is the mediator between yesterday and tomorrow, today is the stage where the past and future must clash in order to make the present worth living.

History is in cycles, it keeps repeating itself in various forms and means, the earth and other planets revolve round the sun, never steering off its path like lost Pluto which has vanished from the pages of history and it has since not been found. Every resource in the earth is never wasted, we use the same source of waters all over the world, they are only channeled and travel through various paths and hinterlands to supply the habitat of man, animal and plants. Man came from the dust and must return to the dust; this is why conservation of nature is very important. History teaches us that the Sahara desert was once a fertile and green region until Kings and Emperors in ancient kingdoms around the Mediterranean came and cut down the trees and cedars in that region to build their vast empires. We can see history fore warning the world of the dangers of man’s metabolic activities which has altered the balance of nature.

Every man alive must strive to be a student of history, when I study history, I tread on this past of yesterday to retrace my way in this lost path of today as I stride gracefully to a new dawn in the future of tomorrow. History is a very relevant field that can never be taught only behind the walls of classroom, everyday experiences makes history and it keeps repeating itself, this goes on and on…………………..

Author: DAVID ADEJUMO is a Child of God, Poet, Pan-African Historian, Essayist, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Youth Adviser and a Custodian of the African Culture.

He has his poems published on 10 International magazines and two anthologies. He is working on publishing his book TREADING ON MEMORY’S LANE. He writes, teaches and love African history.