IT IS true that developed nations had their problems during their development process. This must not be a mere story. It must serve as reference or data to formulate policies to help prevent Africa from going through the same mistakes and resultant hardships. For example, one obvious lesson is that developed nations are where they are today because of some important changes which took place way back, for example the Renaissance of the 14th-17th centuries, the Age of Reason or Enlightenment during the 17th century, the Industrial Revolution and so on.
During such times the primary focus was on mindset change from a world of superstition, guesses, and speculations to the world of freedom, democracy, reason, questions, ideas, research, experiment and human rights. These are core values any society aiming to attain social and economic development must embrace. It was during that time in human history when a lot of scientific and philosophical changes took place except in Africa for obvious reasons.
This is why there is no invention, innovation or discovery with an African name during the early days of patents. No name to earlier philosophers and so on. Since even the development of literacy was among areas that were affected, we have no African name on who discovered the Victoria Falls, who came up with the idea of or led the building of the Great Zimbabwe, and so on. But we only see names of philosophers, scientists and the like from other continents. No doubt, a lot of valuable history was lost or disrupted during the raids and entire period of slavery and colonialism. This is a critical reference which must inspire significant changes or reforms in Africa.
Today the world is said to be in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. But how has the impact of all the industrial revolutions been in terms of development in Africa? Especially on the aspect of influencing or revolutionising the science and technology development base? How many Africans are aware of the fact that the Industrial Revolution started as a result of fundamental changes in freedom and reasoning, and now the world is in the Fourth Industrial Revolution? How many Africans know that the first writers of the Bible did not divide it into chapters and verses? It is this type of knowledge and moving with time that has potential to revolutionise far-reaching changes in Africa’s democracy, science and technology, education, religion and so on.
People need information in order to make informed decisions. They need certain pieces of information for them to start participating in certain developmental activities. They need to know where and why democracy, science and technology, and formal education started, what is an invention, innovation, discovery, patent and so on. Fortunately for some of these things, there is no need for someone to go through Grade One to secondary, college or university in order to understand them. Unfortunately, that is the impression society has created. The end result is that the majority remain spectators and consumers instead of being participants in the line of producing new ideas for new goods and services.
Surprisingly, in Africa, many people talk more about witchcraft and making allegations than science, inventions, innovations and discoveries. When is Africa going to learn from those important changes from other continents? Look at the movie industry in Africa. The best they can show the world is a confirmation that Africa is still deeply rooted in superstition (witchcraft). The music and movie (arts) industry must help the continent understand its history and inevitable changes for recovery and development. Asking anyone about Nigeria, they would tell you that there is too much witchcraft in that country. This is the picture Nollywood has painted about Nigeria. The other lesson people, and now even many churches, have learnt from such movies is that all the powers of witchcraft can be ‘sent back to the sender’.
By the way, in any endeavour, hope alone is not enough. Hence any person with Africa’s problems at heart must stand up now. She or he must also divide attention on Africa’s rudimentary and fragile science and technology foundation. You are not alone. There was and still is a power point of hope to build on.
When African leaders met in Addis Ababa in January 2007, and declared 2007 a year of science and technology, they activated the winds of change for the field. For this reason, there is no need of starting anything new. That would amount to duplication of work. What they started calls for continued support. It needs determination, endurance, dedication, commitment, resilience, vision, goal, open-mindedness and teamwork.
The author is a police officer.