The African Paradox: Plenty “Intellectuals”, Yet No Physical Solutions

South African graduates
African paradox: Plenty graduates and no solutions

Africa, our beloved continent, is currently becoming dominated by a generation of noise makers: a people who can talk, talk and talk almost all the time, yet with no physical action. In fact, it is very annoying when you tune into your radio or television set in the morning and all you can hear are some “experts” giving speeches to the audience, whiles reserving the real action to some inexperienced folks out there.

There are many scholars with PhDs and master’s degrees in Agricultural Science. Yet many of them will never set foot on the farm. Many of our scientists are probably very good at teaching but never good at inventions and innovations. I have always wondered where our mechanical engineers have been hiding, as we continue to import motorbikes and even bicycles from abroad every year.

The taxpayer is often told: “plans are far-advanced for the implementation of this project”; the other project is “in the pipeline”, the implementation phase comes “in 4 years”, and so on. Many of such proposals have always remained a pipedream. Yet every year such slogans are shamefully echoed to the masses.

From the scientific researchers, through the religious leaders, the academicians, our scholars and most annoyingly, the politicians- when in opposition, almost everyone could perfectly demonstrate exactly what ought to be done in any given circumstance; yet once in power, such ideas will always remain either on paper or at best be held “in the pipeline”.  Instead of taking action and making things happen in a swift and decisive manner for the benefit of our people, it is rather very sad that even those tasked with such responsibilities are rather good at making speeches, while pushing the actual action onto the future generations.

So far, it appears a few of those in the built environment are physically making impact, whiles the majority of the other professions especially those in the manufacturing fields remain to be seen.

Meanwhile the media which ought to bring such topics for discussion has always been focusing on politicians and their frustrations whiles ignoring the lack of action from the professionals groups out there.  

From Total Illiteracy to Incompetent Intellectualism

Many years ago, there were only a few “scholars” in Africa. At that time, the mass majority of the people had not received “formal education” as we often call it. Many had not been to engineering schools, polytechnics nor the university. There were only a few tens of people who had the benefit of receiving “formal education”.

In spite of this, Africans were producing soaps, shoes, body cream, they were producing different kinds of cooking oil and their local African medicines were very effective and powerful. They cured almost every major disease by relying on their local medication and eating organic food which was very rich in vitamins and nutrients. In fact, they ate good quality food.

As a result, many of them lived long, averagely beyond the age of 90 years.

“It was very common to see many of our parents living beyond the age of 120 years with good eyesight. Most importantly, many of our grandparents never wore glasses”.

Ironically, today we call ourselves “intellectuals”, we live in “hygienic environments”, we eat “balanced diet” and use “modern medication”.

“Yet, many of us are dying below age of 40! Today, millions of children at age 10 are wearing glasses”!

As if that is not enough, there are several hundreds of incurable diseases that currently threaten our very survival. What an irony!

How many of our forefathers died of malaria fever? How many of our grandmothers were infertile? In fact, there are many reproductive health-related diseases in our modern Africa than it was in the pre-colonial era despite the so-called advancement in medical research. Isn’t it time we took a critical look at the quality of our food today? But of course, many will consider this to be some “conspiracy theory”. After all, once you successfully discredit legitimate concerns such as the above, it becomes easy to ignore the need to take action.

African paradox
African paradox: Plenty intellectuals no solutions

Currently even though Africa can boast of several millions of scholars, professionals, professors and several others with PhDs, one can always wonder the whereabouts of these experts as almost everything we used in Africa is imported from elsewhere, despite having all the raw materials here at home.

For instance, 40 years ago, Africa was importing a sizeable amount of matches, sugar, cooking oil, roofing sheets, steal, cars, bicycles, shoes, wristwatches, typewriters and others. This was due to the fact that during that time, Africa did not have the needed expertise to mass-produce some of these items here at home. Unfortunately, after 40 years, nothing has changed despite the fact that mother Africa has millions of intellectuals who currently hold the relevant qualifications in the production of these items.

After many years of importing mobile phones, computers, electric generators, sound systems, radio and television sets, fluorescent lamps, electric cables and many other electronic gadgets, there is no indication that this trend will change anytime soon, though there are millions of African experts who have studied the production of these things. Isn’t it a shame that our scholars take pride in their numerous academic qualifications and titles, yet such credentials often do not make any practical contributions to the development of our continent?

Elsewhere in the Middle East and Asia, ordinary students are sending satellites into space. University researcher are actively engaging with their students in the production of mobile phones, digital tablets, computers, cars, and all sorts of physical results can be seen everywhere.