Monday, October 12, 2009

Africans and the spirit of discovery..

Its early October again and it is Intellectual olympics time , where the Nobel prizes, the highest distinction in recognition of the "Makers of Civilization" are announced.It is a time of mixed feelings for me as an African and Nigerian scholar. First, i rejoice in the human creativity and ingenuity that the Nobel  laureates have wrought, and which have brought forth greater understanding of nature, and or impacted positively the lives of human beings. I also celebrate lesser achievements that are not Nobel class or recognized, but which have also brought advances in the pursuit of VERITAS, and similarly improved the human condition.      The winners of the Nobel have been predictable in the hard sciences of Physiology/Medicine, Physics, and Chemistry. These are where the power of science and technology derive their fountain. The winners are without exception Europeans or Asians. No African or black person has ever made contributions in these defining fields to attract Nobel recognition. We do better in the humanities.   Yet, i am convinced on the basis both of personal knowledge, and the experience of others that Africans are not incapable of making contributions to humanity at these levels, but we simply have not. The question arises as to why not. It definitely NOT a deficit of analytical intellectual faculty. Although some (such as Prof Shockley or "Lucky Jim" Watson ) have equated the ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE ( PRODUCING NOBEL CLASS WORK BY BLACKS IN SCIENCE) AS EVIDENCE AGAINST THE ABILITY OF BLACKS TO DO SO. That argument is clearly a basic flaw, both of logic and scientific canons. Our day is coming, but we have to accelerate its arrival. Africans in America are making their contribution to science, but it is still miniscule, because of the lack of opportunity owing to bias  based on the non-performance of our home countries, and our excessive preference for 'creature comfort", rather than living laborious days !   The problem as i see it is that Blacks being only about 50% of the populations of Europoids or  Asians, still have NOT put the correct emphasis on the permanent pursuit of discovery for its own sake !   The secrets of nature reveal themselves both to geniuses and the consistent plodder. There is precious little moral or financial  backing ( societal or governmental) for indigenous research that may or will have global implications. Nigeria despises academics and researchers, and occassionally rewards TRULY MERITORIOUS work ( They reward their group of friends in networks). Nigerians from Nigeria  last published any paper in the foremost journal  Nature in 1970 ! and this speaks volumes of the decline in our indigenous   scientific research ability.    Our academics  pursue sequestrated administrative offices with the delusion that that is the epitome of scholastic excellence !!!.  These must change. Nigeria must become a scientific and knowledge driven society.  Individuals and the corporate world must support indigenous research productivity by siting research institutions within universities that well funded, run by meritorious scientists and totally accountable. Our universities should only reward academics who have made indelible and lasting contribution to their field, the title of 'professors". Our society must be taught from childhood education to become or appreciate the generators of ideas and THE MAKERS OF THINGS and NOT with the mere ability to possess what others have made. Philosophers, creative artists and scientist should become the role model for Nigerian youth, and not thieving politicians. Politicians who promote science and technology should be applauded and apotheosized.   Finally, we must see and articulate the LINK BETWEEN  ECONOMIC POVERTY AND OUR LACK OF PRESENCE IN THE SCIENTIFIC WORLD, AND RACISM.  Just as no one respects a profligate or parasitic relation, no  one is inclined to respect a people or country, who are permenant dependents, sluggards (despite resources), who ask no questions and get no answers to problems confronting humanity as a whole.   Adesuyi Ajayi


Anonymous,  7:12 am  

If we are going to start winning Nobel Prizes we need to revamp our educational system now so as to produce geniuses who would win it in the next 30 or 40 years.

Our schools are at best cramming institutions and that's just not going to cut in the 21st century.

Anonymous,  5:56 pm  

why does everyone place such value on the nobel anyway? its highly subjective and the list of those that didnt win trump the list of those that did in many fields

Anonymous,  7:06 am  

"why does everyone place such value on the nobel anyway?"

What a stupid question?? Do you know the impact of the scientific discovery of Nobel research on our world today? If you knew you wouldn't be mumbling in your ignorance. So why not do some research before posting ehn.

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