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Any African who sees Europe and marvels is not a scholar


‘’For development, what the black man needs is a melanin Buddha, not a black Caesar.’’

By Jimanze Ego-Alowes

TUE, JULY 28 2020-theG&BJournal-Ours was one motley crowd. We were made up, on one hand, of couple of oven-fresh millionaires. And as is the tradition they wanted it announced, by words and deeds, that they have become one of the lords of the clan.

On the other hand there were the other, perhaps, richer millionaire types. These have been at the winning end of the money game for so long. And have by now transited into being stable plutocrats, a part of those who really own the world, not just arrisvites. Apparently, these millionaire types have outgrown the urge to let others know how rich they are. Their subsisting headache, a desirable one if you asked, is on how to transfer wealth to junior and siblings. All other things for them now is humour.

Of course there were the rest of us, academics, journalists, and the sorts. Expectedly, the frame story was the usual jeremiad on Nigeria as a failing or failed nation.

To cut a long story short, the near consensus was that our politicians must be daft, perhaps headless. How on earth could they have known, travelled and seen Europe, Asia and North America, yet are unable to make Nigeria a replica of any of those places. The anchor and chief canvasser of this idea was Dr. Peter. For purposes of confidentiality, we withhold the surnames of all dramatis personnel.

Peter was a lecturer at a nearby university. Either because of the power of his oratory or confidence, nearly the whole house turned out an echo chamber for his submissions. In other words, Nigerian politicians are coconut heads who having seen paradise abroad can’t cut a piece of it for home. And that sounded well with the crowd, almost.

But Dr. Bernard, a Russian trained architect, as he informed the house in the course of his submission, had a slightly but powerfully divergent view. It is that if the politicians have failed, the thinkers, and the intellectuals, have failed even more dramatically, more abysmally. His, was a long and winding thesis, but for clarity and coherence we shall reconstruct him as faithfully as memory allows.

According to Bernard, any African who sees Europe and marvels could not have been a scholar. Any scholar who has the least inkling, of the magnificence of what the European mind has constructed in mathematics, in physics, in theology, in philology and history, just to name these, will have a different question on his lips. That question will not be why is physical or geographical Europe etc. a paradise? The question will be is why is geographical Europe falling short of their imagine-national Europe?

The point is that there is no way a people who have constructed such imagine-nations, in mathematics, in philology, physics etc., will not have the urge and capacity to devolve some of those to their earthy ecology. So, the paradise you see in Europe are evidences of what their scholars have thought through and imagined. In a word, geographic Europe, etc. is  a mere near approximation of their imagine-nations.

That you see a paradisiacal, well laid out Paris, a perfectly running Japanese metro system, a medical services wonder that turns your ailing and geriatric president etc. into a near healthy youth, these and more, are miracles. But they are miracles only in the eyes of the common too common many. And that includes visiting African politicians. However, to the engineers who run the metro systems, the architects who cut out Paris as a copycat of paradise, those eye level miracles are founded upon implausible advances in mathematics, in physics, in chemistry, in philology and in history, to name these again. In other words, these engineers, architects and doctors, etc. know that they are in the professions. They also are in the know that the professions exist only as bodily extensions of the basic sciences. That is, while the basic sciences can exist on their own the professions can’t return the favor. The professions which to the eyes of the many too many are marvels, actually ride piggyback on the basic sciences.

That is, for the many too many, the engineer, the doctor, the journalist, etc., are his magic makers. But to these doctors, to these engineers, etc., the mathematicians, the gene biologists, the chemists etc., are the source providers and thus the real rainmakers.

In other words, the big bang the European physical miracle is due to the produce of physics, chemistry, history etc. That is, the primary sciences. And Europeans, etc., have gone implausibly far in these primary sciences and things. The fact, and it needs emphasizing, is that groundbreaking advancements in these basic sciences, are exclusive to the Buddha, that is to the big brains. The point is that it is beyond the Caesars. Caesars are at their best, the din makers and tight rope walkers.

As it were, the miracle of physical Europe is built upon basic sciences. It is just that these basic sciences oftentimes are made portable as engineering, doctoring and don’t believe it politics. Politics is a profession, not a science. In other words, the politics of a nation will be as advanced, as productive, etc., as the primary sciences feeding her. It is just similar to your engineering, architecting etc., being as advanced as the basic sciences feeding her.

So, when you are lost for direction as Nigeria currently is, don’t go to the professionals, the politicians, engineers etc. go to Buddha and be saved.

In other words, the scholar who joins the many too many to wonder why Africa cannot replicate Europe in physical terms has lost his bearing. And it is even worse when such is an alumnus of Harvard. [Apparently, this was a dig on Dr. Peter, a Harvard alumnus].

The question to ask is why can’t our Harvard style scholars break out and break new grounds, like their American and European and Asian counterparts? A Shannon, a Curie, etc., all did things, changed the world with their PHD thesis. Why can’t these scholars create new imagine-nations and hand over tools to their politicians, like they do in Europe, like it once was done in Biafra?

So, Europe is a marvel not because they got the right leaders. Rather, Europe got the right leaders because they were wise enough to understand that development is an order dependent procedure. You first get a Buddha, a big axial thinker, before you embark on contracting a Caesar, a leader. Without Buddha feeding his brains, every leader, every Caesar, is empty headed. Caesar’s genius is in gestures, in drama.

In other words, the chronology of development is this. Buddha founds imagine-nations and Caesar devolves them into physicality, into geographic-nations, as it were. To summarize, to have development, a Buddha must precede a Caesar.

Perhaps, we did illustrate. Today, Edward, just swiped to pay for our first round. Ok. How did this happen? Apparently to the many too many it is the work of engineers who fabricate the POS, and future mindedness of bankers? But not quite. Truth is, it is all in numbers theory. Without the mathematics of number theory not one kobo can be moved from Ikoyi to Victorial Island.

And these number theories have been there since Euler. [Euler? who the hell is he?]. In other words, the European minds, Buddha and scholars conceived of the tools of money transfers before greedy financial types, saw a chance and seized the template.

And just the same thing happened with computers. Computers were not developed as a work tool. The development of computers, was a fallout from the mathematics of inquiry. A guy called David Hilbert, posed a purely mathematical question. Another guy, Alan Turing, investigated it and found answers. All these at the levels of basic inquiry and science. It was from all these that what you and I call computers, artificial intelligence etc. followed.

So as you can see the European Buddha mind, is always ahead of their professionals and tinkerers etc. In other words, all the paradises, the metro lines, the financial wizardry you encounter in Europe, etc are shortfalls of what the European mind has imagine-nationed.

If you asked for the way out, I did answer you go to Achebe. Achebe may be one of the most underappreciated writers, despite his superstar status. There is so much in the great man we have not mined. One of his greatest insights is a missive he attributed to Unoka. ”I shall pay my big debts first.” That is the finest strategy for the underling, ever imagined. There is only one caveat. What really is your big debts?

The answer is scholarship is Buddha mind, not leadership, not Caesarship. In other words, for development, what the black man needs is a melanin Buddha, not a black Caesar. That is all we have to say for now. Ahiazuwa.

Jimanze Ego-Alowes (PhD) is Author and public commentator

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