State of The Art: Admire Kudita
LAST night, I watched a video by the former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson. He was showcasing the marvel of China’s road network. Indeed, the road works are a prime example of the accelerated technological supremacy of that nation.
It is an incredible feat, whose crowning achievement is the 34-mile bridge across the sea.
In 1988, China reportedly had no road network. Thirty years later, they have 84 000 miles of them and “more than any other country”, according to the Top Gear presenter.
Since 2011, they are adding 6 000 miles to the road network annually! But for me the most important question African nations must grapple with is: How did China leap-frog the entire world?
Their civilisation is as old as ours. We have even traded with China till the name China is a synonym for porcelain. The Munhumutapa Empire traded with Persia and China some 300 years ago. What did we learn from that experience?
I am not suggesting that Africa has been a mere consumer of other people’s scientific outputs because that would not be factual. I, however, understand that Africa lacks the advantage of having a coordinated mass of people moving inexorably toward one overarching goal, or one army marching to the beat of one drummer such as China does with its One China policy.
This policy is underpinned by an appreciation of and insistence upon the Oriental nation of over one billion people’s common identity. Are there not also more one billion Africans throughout the world? What is holding us back? We are black and that is how we are defined, whether we like it or not.
Black is a synonym for African. Rather than reject this identity we must embrace it as such and use it to draw our people together. Be black and beautiful.
If Africa’s relationship with China was premised on technological innovation rather than the importation of cheap goods and if only it were premised on even the emulation of China’s mimicking and in some cases reverse engineering of Western ideas, then the continent might be somewhere.
We need now to pitch our tents higher and cast a more self-loving vision of ourselves by destroying the mediocrity of self-hate and the majoring in minor things. We have to consider seriously that though we have scientists and researchers, there is now need for an African fund for research and development.
The rich biodiversity of plant and fauna is a basis for a vibrant pharmaceutical industry based on African indigenous knowledge, for example. Where is the interlink between the traditional medicine men and African academy?
Industrial espionage is how all the nations have thrived in one way or the other. So far, the fascination with shiny balls of wanton consumerism have provided a distraction on the road to progress.
Today let us teach African children to love Africa firstly; and that will lead inadvertently to African solidarity secondly, thirdly, African self-respect.
Self-respect means that we have all we ever needed here on the continent to prosper, but that the preoccupation with unproductive politics and occupying public office is antithetical to the continent’s emancipation.
It plays into the narrative of African ineptitude. Power for its own sake is the reason why we may have mere genocidal rulers not visionaries.
So, today, I pose a challenge to Africa, must you continue with victimhood? You may have been envied, raped and victimised; but you have now a golden chance to show your mettle by rising to the challenge of your people’s hunger for better.
Those to whom much is given, much is also required. Thus, for example, all the mystical phenomena we have been famous for conjuring have a scientific and useful principle operating behind it. I see that we always had “bluetooth technology” in mubobobo, for example.
I see that we always had drone technology in the so-called tokoloshis that rage in the night. I see we always had surface-to air missiles in the lightning that we send against our our own.
But these have been for too long shrouded in mystery by our medicine men and women. Africa’s greatest disservice to itself is mysticism.
When the knowledgeable ones concealed their knowledge in intricate rituals, that may have been a source of power. But it was temporary power.
Knowledge is best shared and developed. There is not enough sharing because most of our ideas were not written down. Orature has its place and its limitations. We have to accept that we have been hobbled in our efforts, if ever we made the concerted effort to progress by a lack of true sharing post-independence.
Our academies must introduce Africa studies as mandatory studies. These studies must not merely capture revolutionary struggle history, they must capture and weave a complete thread of African innovation right across Africa’s great diaspora.
Then we will begin to see people like ourselves having done marvellous things to move mankind and civilisation forward. No one accepts that they owe us for the many resources which are daily pillaged from the continent. It is a matter of survival.
Our griots such as Bob Marley have long said it through song, we have to look to ourselves and arise from the slumber. We have to wake up and live now. Mayibuye iAfrica!