Time is a herb that cures the wounds of sorrow and ill-feeling. The Black man’s burden of slave trade and colonial despotism is no longer weighing heavily on us as in the old days.
In his autobiography From Third World to First Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s legendary founding Prime Minister expressed surprise that President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia was obsessed with the politics of whites versus blacks. He himself decided not to harp allegations of neo-colonialism but instead to cooporate with the sages of North America and Europe. His policy contributed to the economic success of his island city and state.
We can appreciate Kaunda’s obsession with politics of race because thousands of refugees had entered into Zambia. Some were rallying to fight apartheid in their countries, others were regrouping to destroy Ian Smith’s unilateral declaration of independence in what is now Zimbabwe; still others were in Lusaka to dispute with arms Lisbon’s claim that Mozambique and Angola were overseas provinces of Portugal.
That era is gone with the wind. Now it is time for us to try and learn from the West (Europe and North America) the secret of their greatness. How did the little continent of Europe come to dominate the whole world?
History has proved that educated people rule uneducated people; rich people dominate the poor. If Africa remains educationally backward and economically poorer than other continents, it will continue to be looked at with disdain. We must, therefore, probe the secrets of the West; just how did they make it to be more advanced than people of other continents and then colonise them.
Of the two harbingers of Western civilisation, the Greeks and the Romans, it is the Romans who continued to fascinate the world, if we assume that Italians are descendants of the Romans. And why not?
After Rome incorporated Greece within its empire, history deserted Greece. Athens ceased to shine with philosophers, playwrights, scientists and the Olympic games. But Italy experienced a rebirth with great minds of scientists like Galileo, poets like Dante, philosophers like Machiavelli. Italy influenced other parts of Europe and there was the Renaissance. From that time, Europe began to lead the rest of the world.
Europeans became inquistive about the rest of the earth and sent out explorers braving uncharted seas with vessels that today look like toys. They were inquisitive about nature in general; made scientific discoveries and invented about all devices of modern civilisation. This is how they became greater than other people. They have the best hospitals, the best educational institutions and the best research facilities. They use their wealth to make life on earth better.
Africa is tormented by two deadly diseases: HIV and Aids and Ebola. When a final cure is invented, most likely it will be in Europe or America. It is there that large sums of money are dedicated to research. This is one of the Western preoccupations that Africans should emulate.
Though most African governments, including Malawi, are too poor to set up advanced research facilities but through the African Union, this can be done. It is high time African scientists moved from obtaining PhDs by dissertations on what Newton or Darwin did. They should earn doctorates by standing on the shoulders of these giants and extending their horizon of knowledge.
Africa must breed its own inventors; Africa must learn from Europe and America how they breed men and women of great accomplishments in various fields of human endeavour.
Europe’s forward march depends owes a good deal to cooperation between individual groups and governments. The artists and architects of the renaissance Italy such as Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci flourished partly because of the patronage they got from millionaires of that time.
African academics and elites should take initiative where their governments do not. Many of the inventions that have created wealth were made by men who were visionary. At first, some of their neighbours thought them insane when they talked of a machine speaking or flying to the moon. But they worked on their visions, even after they had failed a thousand times, they did not give up their hopes.