DO AFRICANS BELIEVE THAT AFRICANS CAN INVENT?

We have to make our own world, because there is little space for us in the world others have created, out of their own ingenuity, for themselves.

So what we need is to create in Africa an African system that supports research and invention from Dream to Done Deed. What we need is to awaken the strong sense of the need to create our own world, a new world. A desire, the unquenchable thirst and unslackening desire to do this or perish. It becomes our racial focus, and the essence of the DNA we pass on, henceforth, from Generation to Generation. Our black spirits will come ready-made with the natural Urge to do this. We will be born differently from today. Born to invent.

But…: Do Africans believe that Africans can invent? Do Africans who feel the spirit of invention and innovation stirring within them have the guts to sacrifice their whole life to it? Are there financiers and patrons ready to support them to the bitter or sweet end?

If all you do is extract natural resources and minerals from the earth and the waters, and sell them unprocessed to others, then you are just a glorified miner. Now, today, as oil revenues dwindle, the call is sounded. Any mathematician can do the arithmetics and work backwards from the finish line. It is the point in time when our oil becomes worthless and our ability to invent and innovate becomes the only natural resource we have left. Untapped?

Yes I made the the jump from oil to inventions; whereby the popular wisdom proclaims that the alternative to oil bears another name: Diversification. But… Diversification Alone Is Not The Answer! It is only an interim puffer, but not the guarantor of survival. Only the fit survive. The fit are those who have trained the power and ability to create the future.

But…: Are African governments, think tanks, traditional institutions and financial institutes really ready to chart and push this course and pour all their resources into creating a new world, their own future? Do Africans believe that Africans can invent?

If we simply diversify from Oil to Solid Minerals, we will make the same mistakes again because not only are the underlying methodologies unaddressed and unchanged; nor the corruption issues in terms of persons, institutions and systems unammended; but, most importantly, the fundamentally flawed ideology that drives and guides our concept of nation-building, people-building, capacity-building – whatever you want to call it – remains the most entrenched and in-built weakness that we carry with us from generation to generation, from century to century. It is an ideology that supports a taker-mentality as opposed to a giver-mentality; it remains a receiver-mentality as against a creator-mentality; it stays a past-deifying and present-indulging mentality instead of a future-engineering one.

But it is better to produce the future than to reproduce the past. What our so-called education so far has not done for us is trigger the creator-gene. Systemically, deeply and deliberately. En Masse. The discoverer-Complex has yet to be activated within the context of African Culture, Upbringing, Orientation, Foundational Thinking that later guides investors, policy-makers, entrepreneurs and every citizen. We are talking about the Survival of the Species here.

The human being, in the end, respects only intelligence. Not just articulated intelligence, but intelligence that has yielded action and tangible form. The human species‘ only hope for survival and expansion, right from time, and for escaping extinction, has always been innovation and invention, i.e. the practical application of intuitive perception and intelligence. Thus, humans finally only respect those persons and groups whose ingenuity or depth of perception leads to discoveries and inventions that continue to move humankind forward. The urge to move, physically, mentally and spiritually, and to defend gained territories, is a deep evolutionary expression of primal survival instinct.

Therefore: Africans had better start believing that Africans can invent and that Africans SHOULD invent. And start pouring all their resources into making this a reality. Otherwise, the future which is being currently invented and designed by Non-Africans, for Non-Africans, will have no place in it for Africa and Africans. Or the place that will be reserved for us, we will not like it, nor possess the power and ability to change it. It will be worse that the days of Slavery and Colonisation. It will be a depth of systemic powerlessness and denigration not yet seen in the history of humankind. Because, if you don‘t make anything, you‘ll never own a thing.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

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REALPOLITIK: AFRICA, THE REAL AFRICA

African Unity is Inter-ethnic (not Inter-national) in nature. Unlearn Africa. Learn Africa. Know the tribes and ethnic groups, their languages, histories, cultures, sentiments, traditional friends and enemies. Then you will suddenly see the real Africa and the real African boundaries and borders. They are very different from what was left behind by colonialism. Still unresolved.

African peoples and ethnic units, the real ones, not the national mirages. Any African countries that scrap their tribal languages are taking a lazy defeated step backward, not forward; suppressing forces that will still break out one day again – with even greater force. You can not deny Ethnicity in Africa.

But it does not have to divide us. On the contrary: the acknowledgment and knowledge of it helps us to form natural bridges across ethnic lines. This leads to more – and true, natural – peace and understanding. On the other hand, ignoring it has led to us over and again walking blindfolded and naively into pogroms, genocides, wars at worst – or just never-ending fractures at best.

However, in our need to find peace we have often taken the self-destructive path of sand-papering all our ethnic identities away in order to reduce us all into one amorphous history-less post-colonial European-speaking being. But we thereby go backwards, or sideways, not forwards. We lose, in the illusion of gaining. You have to know your tribe and your fellow African’s tribe; and allow the ethnic part of you to forge ties and forms of understanding with the ethnic part of them. Because our ethnic identities is what we on our own developed for ourselves over the course of millennia. They are not just surface-identities and nothing. Our colonial identities, however, were imposed on us and still sit on us like ill-fitting clothes.

It is ironic that when we associate with non-Africans, we make room for differences based on race and ethnicity. We acknowledge their race and take it into account in the bridge we build between us and them. This then smooths the way to a firm relationship and makes it easy for the shared humanity in us and them to link up with each other. But when we progressive Africans are associating with our fellow Africans, we carelessly believe the colonial white-wash of the irrelevance of our original ancient ethnic identities, and we try to build a relationship on an illusory foundation within which we have not yet reciprocally understood and arranged our minor but important ethnic differences according to their natures. But: Once done, harmonisation becomes very easy and in fact inevitable.

One of the reasons why Igbos and Yorubas, for example, quarrel so much and seemingly find it so difficult to unite politically is that they each keep on expecting the other, unconsciously, to be like them. To be the same end-product of colonialism. To be another version of themselves across the Niger. Especially politically. But since this is not the case, they CRITISIZE that which is different in the other. However only when they have have acknowledged and accepted not only the differences, but the fact that it is natural and complimentary to be different, will they – upon then understanding how to harmonise those differences – begin to see their vast Similarities too.

Despite being the victims of the same conditions all over Africa – corruption, mismanagement, abuse-of-power, and indiscipline – yet we find it difficult to form a strong fist to punch against these situations; and we don’t know why, although the answer is staring us in the face and we are living it everyday. We bunch ourselves into our ethnic groups and then say that tribalism is the problem. But tribalism is not the problem, because most people will always be true to their ethnic identity. It is natural. The problem is that the template for African Unity was created by non-Africans for economic purposes – today we call these templates “African Countries” and they are the member states of the so-called AU (formerly called OAU).

However we Africans need to create alternative theaters and templates of unification and conflict-resolution where the ORIGINAL African identities (today called ethnic groups or tribal families) can themselves work out the rules of engagement or disengagement. Then they can do away with Tribal or Ethnic BIAS. Denying this fact will change nothing, as the Realpolitik in Africa will nevertheless calmly continue to run along those lines and be powered by those forces. Thus, there needs to be a theatre and a dynamic where and whereby this reality can interact with itself and sort itself out.

That is what is still missing: an African self-made Inter-Ethnic OAU. An AU of the original ethnic families. Because the truth is this: the different constituent parts of it are already there. Look at Nigeria: Biafra, Arewa, Oduduwa, Bini Cosmos, Middle Belt. Some even extending naturally beyond the borders of Nigeria. They are all there, the true power blocs and centers of force; the true African identities of the Africans living there. Their FIRST socio-political and cultural identity. Nigeria is in this regard only their second identity. But as long as the first identities find no platform to engage according to homogeneity and share power equitably, the second identity will also know no peace and will remain unstable.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

INVISIBLE GARDEN

Creation is soft and beautiful. But it is also meticulous and thorough, such that in all its softness it is also very hard, merciless and adamantine. Because everything comes back.

And in all it’s beauty, it is also very terrible and gruesome and unsmiling, because EVERYTHING is absorbed, tended, grown, prepared, strengthened and returned back to its originator. It is beautiful perfection.

You feel it but you don‘t realise it. All the time.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

REALITY

Reality is a stranger. And we live in it, and live with it, but we don‘t know or understand it. We don‘t know what it’s Laws are, why it does the things it does. Why we fall sick, why we die how we die when we die. Why the Fulfilment of our dreams are cut short unexpectedly. Those who pray are not spared. Those who don’t, don’t fare better either. We live in Reality, something strange that we don’t understand. Understand why it apportions this to that person and that to this person. Why it is so inexorable, so unyielding, so mysterious. Why it will hit you tomorrow with something you don‘t expect today. Why?

Abd-ru-shin explained the Laws of Creation in his book The Grail Message „In the Light of Truth“ the best I have ever heard or read them explained. I return to it ever and again, to find clarity. But knowing of Reality is one thing. Becoming in harmony with Reality is the next step, and the hardest. Because for that, a person has to change, really really change from deep within. And only Reality itself can change a person that deeply. The more Reality confronts and confounds one, and hits one, the deeper it simultaneously seeks to pave its way deep into one, until it gets to that immortal light within one‘s core which alone can burn in harmony with Reality. Only then, at that final moment, will Reality cease to feel like a stranger, and start to feel like a father, like a teacher, like a guardian, like mother and like Home.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

INTUITION AND DEVELOPMENT

Environmental and spatial Beauty starts with Intuition, Art and Imagination. When you imagine it, draw it, design it, form it and then outwardly build it after that Image. Then suddenly you have outwardly what you crave and imagine inwardly. What you sense inwardly.

As simple as this may sound, this is the key to quantum leaps and to infinite development. This is the assurance that the boundaries of Genius will always be crossed, as long as we continue to march through Time, guided deeply by Intuitive Perception. Space is flexible, and bendable to Imagination and Inspiration.

Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

MEETING ORLANDO JULIUS

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Back in 2008 when I used to work partly in Nigeria, partly in Ghana and partly in Equatorial Guinea, the late great Sir Maliki Showman – the wonderful man who taught me how to play the saxophone (that’s a tale I’ll tell another day) – told me that if I ever had the chance , I should pay a visit to and say Hello to the pioneer of Afrobeat music and one of the greatest living Nigerian saxophonists of all time, Orlando Julius, who had at that time temporarily moved from Nigeria to the Ghanaian countryside, to a quiet village on the outskirts of Accra.

So one weekend in Accra, I chartered a Taxi and drove over, where I met the maestro himself, Orlando Julius Ekemode, and his incredibly gracious and beautiful wife and dancer, Latoya Aduke Ekemode. I have seldom experienced greater hospitality than they showered to me on that day. They took me as their son, we ate together, drank together and the great man regaled me with funny and touching and inspiring tales from the good old days of Nigerian music long before I was born – just like his friend Maliki Showman always used to do too.

Finally Orlando brought out his tenor sax and asked me to unpack mine which I had brought along. And after I showed him how far Sir Maliki had already brought me as at that time, Orlando Julius proceeded to lovingly show me new tricks on the Tenor sax and to expand my knowledge of the instrument and of African and Jazz music, like a father would. These are precious memories I‘ll never forget.

And last night, in Frankfurt, more than a decade later, and many years after the death of my friend and teacher Maliki Showman, it was such a joy for me to see Orlando Julius and his wife Latoya and his whole band again on stage, slamming out one great old hit after another. At 74 he is still going strong and the tunes are still as irresistible as ever.

To crown it all, they saw me in the crowd and they remembered. Latoya told the crowd how I had come to visit them in Ghana years ago. And then Orlando asked me to dance with them on stage. New precious memories. Great great people.

Highlife, Afrobeat, Funk, Jazz – they all originate from okdschool African Music… and Orlando Julius remains among the greatest of all time.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

BUHARI PUSHING THE BIAFRAN ISSUE INTO THE ONLY FIELD OF BATTLE HE UNDERSTANDS: MILITARY CONFLICT.

A soldier without a war must be a lonely man. So lonely that he feels no shame at taking military conflict into the towns, neighbourhoods, streets and homes of unarmed or poorly armed civilians of even his own supposed country just to assuage his thirst for blood and domination in the only language comprehensible to his one-dimensional soul. It matters not to him that the victims in question are civilians untrained in martial combat and lacking in the sophisticated weapons which he has purchased from foreign countries with the wealth of the very people against a section of whom he has now turned that same military machinery. While other great generals feel militarily fulfilled only when matched in even combat against a worthy and equally trained adversary, the small-minded blood-thirsty little soldier will leave real terrorists undefeated and, instead, withdraw his troops from true battle and send them into the homes of civilians, to intimidate, to brutalize, to maim and to kill, just in order to satisfy his desire for a sense of victory, however cheap and shameful.

And what is the crime of this brave civilian population in question, these Igbos? Only one: self-awareness. They committed the deep, unpardonable, human crime of becoming and articulating their awareness of their own self, their own individual nationality, their own distinct identity as a People. This crime, already problematic as it is on all continents, is most heavily frowned upon and most viciously punished, it seems, on the African continent. The very continent most desperately in need of internal soul-searching and honest appraisal of its own inherent primordial intuiting of what the root of a nation is and what the forms of nations are. The very continent whose peoples most desperately need to redefine all concepts of nationhood foisted on them by colonial intent and later further militarily appropriated by feudal desire. A continent that should today enrich mankind with new schools of thought in the field of the different possibilities for the expressions of human civilization. The very continent that, even generations later, most urgently finds itself still recurrently placed before the need to question the chains, the borders, the constitutions and the conflicts into which, partly splintered and partly moulded, it was birthed through the labour throes of a deliberate colonial curriculum. Yet, this continent is the very same one that most violently and most vehemently refuses to look at itself in the mirror and dialogue with itself as to the best way to create the political and policy spaces that most favour its multi-ethnic nature and further its development. Instead it fights tooth and nail to defend and preserve what other civilizations designed and then forced upon it, without permitting any investigation by its indigenes into how they themselves would have done it if no external force had foisted it on them.

And now it is Nigeria’s turn, on that troubled continent, to fall (again) into conflict with herself over this very issue: of sovereign African ethnic nations – of different languages, of different centres and concepts of power, and of different directions of loyalty – but forced into an artificially conceived and created country by profit-minded non-Africans; and which Africans have now since become no longer at ease as they perpetually run around an irreconcilable puzzle promised them by colonialism and inevitably overtaken by deep-rooted feudalism. The sense of a Non-fit keeps breaking out time and again, embodied in calls for self-determination or restructuring at the one pole, or even by extreme ethnic envies, marginalisation and blood-letting at the other extreme.

The spirit of Ala-Igbo has re-embodied itself, and the dawning recognition begins to settle in, that this is not a Biafran army that can be defeated in battle, or a state-land that can be appropriated by occupation, or an ethnic identity that can be obliterated by marginalisation, nor is it a tribe that can be cleansed by genocide. This is something else entirely. This is a spirit that no matter how many times you kill them, will NEVER GO AWAY. This is a People that has re-become self-aware, conscious of itself as a Unit, as a nation-continuum. This is a People who want Sovereignty in all its depths and ramifications. This is a People that have the clarity and sense of proud adulthood to yearn to be their own Nation, themselves! And if you must give them something else, it must be one in which they feel and know they are represented!

But Nigeria was conceived, and brought together, under the barrel of the gun. And Nigeria, finally, has continued to keep herself together, like a masochist, through the self-inflicted pressure and violence of a forced marriage. It is thus not surprising that Nigeria, bewildered and baffled, bemused, insulted and continually embarrassed by increasingly vitriolic and contentious calls for secession, for restructuring, for self-determination by separate ethnic regions – a natural manifestation of her inability to address and redress the clash of civilizations brought about by her unnatural birth – begins to react in the only way she knows: The way of violence, intimidation and coercion.

It thus becomes imperative for President Buhari, a former coup plotter, a former military head-of-state, a veteran of the genocidal 1967-70 Nigerian war against the Igbo people of Biafra, to concentrate his efforts now on militarising the current Biafran resurgence in order to create the sick impression of a pseudo-justification to send federal troops into the streets and homes of a section of the people, an ethnic group, the Igbos, who have hitherto not launched even ONE ATTACK on the military or on any other ethnic group; a people who’s sole call is for the permission to hold a Referendum on the issue of self-determination, but who now find themselves internally attacked and surrounded by the armed forces of the very country which claims that these same Igbos are a part of her. What an irony of machiavellian proportions!

The contention that a certain individual, Nnamdi Kanu, has been exceedingly vitriolic in his verbal agitations, is a shamelessly lame excuse for a military offensive against an entire ethnic region. All it shows is the inability of this administration, as indeed of the colonially born African complex – compounded by delusions of ethnic superiority – to address complex issues in anything but military and militaristic terms! This is a shame for Africa and the Black race, as well as a mark of dishonour upon every person who supports this military aggression against civilians. In the end, President Buhari remains still General Buhari, a military dictator who criminally uses the organs of State to persecute his opponents, rather than applying and following the rules of the path of judicial law. Africa returns to the past, and time stands still.

But much deeper than Nigeria is the Igbo Spirit! It is the ROOT. And if it ever needed further proof that it does not belong in this contraption called Nigeria, at least in its present form, it is being furnished this daily in these times. If it ever needed any proof that it will NEVER be snuffed out no matter how many times Biafra is beaten down, it is being birthed daily into this certainty in these times of modern pharaonic oppression to which it is being subjected in broad daylight! Buhari’s desperate attempt to militarize the eternal Igbo issue and the Biafran puzzle, apart from causing untold pain and hardship to many civilians, individuals, communities and families, only serves the purpose of further accelerating the Igbo soul’s abnegation of the Nation that repeatedly wages war against it! Ndi Igbo will stand together, will fall together, will rise together! Ndi Igbo can NEVER BE DEFEATED OR BROKEN!

Once upon a time, Sovereignty was brutally, cunningly and mockingly taken away from Sovereign African ethnic nationalities! In its place they were given arbitrary illogical amalgamations, full of culture clashes, and told that this is the way forward if they want to develop! In Nigeria’s case, this amalgamation – in order to survive – should have submitted itself, in Nigerian hands, to a process of positive metamorphosis that would eventually allow the reawakening and the harmonious, reciprocal and mutually supporting blossoming of that which was taken away: our sense of individual sovereignty as well as the substance of it. Instead it has birthed anomalies and monstrosities and exposed an inconvenient truth that just refuses to go away: African Tribes are the true African Nations. This was why, to place a fundamental impediment before their development, Colonial Design struck them at that core, to hamper the national self and create an illusionary centre that cannot hold. Don’t mind the lie. For, in truth, Igbo world and Bini world and Yoruba world and Ijaw world dwellt side by side for centuries, and got along – and so will their Nations too one day, if it ever comes to that. We know how to do it, when each person is allowed to be himself.

You cannot make Igbos into Nigerians by sending Nigerian soldiers into Ala-Igbo to surround them and occupy their land and forcefully force all of them to vote, and to forswear Biafra, and hail Nigeria, under the barrel of the gun! On the contrary – you thereby make them into non-Nigerians. Infact you cause them to retreat deeper into what they are – Ndi Igbo!

You cannot make Igbos want to be Nigerians by harassing them and brutalizing them and humiliating them and killing them with Nigerian soldiers and Nigerian might! On the contrary you strengthen them in their Sense of Self as Ndi-Igbo, for nothing binds together as tightly as shared persecution. You thereby simply midwife their determination to become one African Nation, either purely as Ala-Igbo or in the family ethnic groups of the Republic of Biafra, that survived persecution and learned and matured through its vicissitudes and mistakes, drew on its strengths, and made it alone into the First World!

You awaken their Inner Igbo Voice which will tell them loudly, proudly: “I AM IGBO! I AM SELF! I AM NATION!” – Maka onye kwe, chi ya e kwe!

IGBO KWENU!

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

Background:
The president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, in September 2017, sent the Nation’s military into the south-eastern parts of the country where they tortured, humiliated and murdered citizens of largely the christian Igbo ethnic tribe, many of whom for decades have desired to break-away from Nigeria and establish their own country Biafra.

FROM INDEPENDENCE TO SELF-DEPENDENCE

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The news around town is that another Nigerian is claiming to have found a cure for AIDS. Again. Social media shakes its head and reminds us of Dr. Abalaka. Lone voices call for more funding, more testing. Experts take a strong look and immediately distance themselves from him. A few days later, he recants and apologises for making public something still in its early phases, according to him. Everybody breathes out; one almost wonders if we’re relieved that pseudo-normalcy has been restored:  Nigerians, indeed Africans, don’t discover or invent anything noteworthy. There is always something more to the story.

But what is actually the essential thing here? As unfortunate as it is that this fiasco played itself out around something as sensitive as this death-dealing virus, it inadvertently brings to light another matter at the core of our continental drift. Be it in medicine, in technology or in any other field necessary for the structural upbuilding of nations. Very simple: how long will we remain dependent on the solution-finding endeavours of others? I thought Independence had another meaning. But since it seems Independence, as a word and a concept, has over the last five decades of Africa’s ‘independence’ surrendered itself to another definition – one that includes inefficiency, beggarliness, corruption, division, non-productivity, squandermania, boastful pride and retrogression – and thereby lost its function as a star drawing our feet forward and a compass showing the way, it has maybe become necessary to temporarily park that word – Independence – in the purifying purgatory of history and replace it with a new-crafted word that more unceremoniously exposes the well-camouflaged wound and slams the nail on the head. A term devoid of poetry and romance, simply being stable and as unmistakably understandable as black-and-white.

A word that very clearly states, describes and defines what we did not get in 1960 when we became independent; nor in 1963 when we became a republic; nor in 1970 when we got the task done of keeping Nigeria one; nor in 1979 when we returned to democracy, new constitution in hand; nor through decades of near-uninterrupted military rule; nor have we found or got it since 1999 when we AGAIN returned to democracy, remixed military constitution again in hand; and even until today we still have not got it. Let us call this word: SELF-DEPENDENCE.

It is the perennial bane of Africa, a continent of people who claim to be the birthpoint of humanity, of civilization and of technology that every modern contraption of essential value which is required for its growth in a modern world, is invented and made on other continents and then freighted into the cradle of civilization at high prices or – even worse – as donations. How many times have we heard the lectures about the great people who built pyramids on the banks of the Nile and then migrated to the banks of the Niger, by which time they had apparently forgotten how to build pyramids because here they started to build huts? Or of the great empire-builders of Mali and Zimbabwe whose descendants, perhaps patronized by the mental version of the tse-tse, steadily slumped into the generational amnesia that rendered them incapable of matching, talk less of outdoing, their forebears?

Truth be told, such tales bore the tears out of me. I’m more interested in other, more recent, exploits, uncelebrated and often greeted with perfunctory yawns of tired amusement at best; but even more often with suspicion, ridicule and denunciation. A tinkering family member of mine and his colleagues designed some new technical thing – don’t ask me what, all I know is that it has to do with computers – but they went ahead and patented it; now some firms want it – apparently it’s the solution they’ve long been looking for. My former secondary school classmate developed with his team a breakthrough procedure for extracting the cells that make up the blood-nerve barrier (if you’re confused, don’t worry, so am I), but it permits an important step forward in understanding peripheral neuropathies, which affects millions of people worldwide.

Some months ago I read of some tenacious eccentric young man in Kaduna State, in northern Nigeria, who has been trying to build a rocket since he was a kid. His last effort did not fly very far, but it flew. The news gave me a thrill. My friend from the south did not know exactly what to make of that piece of news, cautiously asking me in which cardinal direction I thought Boko Haram would first direct that rocket if after the young man ever perfected it, BH stepped in and confiscated it. My answer: don’t worry about that – once one African builds a rocket, another will soon build a magnetic return-to-sender shield. The thirst to invent and build just has to be set free first of all, and encouraged and supported – morally, culturally and financially.

A few years ago I read the amused article of a journalist reporting on another young man, this time in Onitsha in eastern Nigeria, who had designed and built his own version of a helicopter. The writer wondered who would be the first daredevil to attempt a test-flight. And then it was on facebook not long ago that the link to an article was doing the rounds, a report on the scientific tinkering of some secondary school girls in Lagos, in western Nigeria, who had tinkered an electricity generator powered, not by the black curse called petroleum fuel, but by urine. (You read that right). Let’s not go into the jokes people cracked about that. The generator worked, by the way. If you understand anything about the mysterious fuel cabal in Nigeria, you’ll know why this news might cause some powerful people sleepless nights and blocked urethrae.

Tell me more of these stories – these are the ones I like to hear. Why? Simple. How long will we fill our lazy stomachs with the swelling garri of empty pride, back-dated? Must every good thing exist only in some distant dusty past painstakingly reconstructed by dogged historians? What of the future? Who designs it? We don’t need to re-invent the past; we simply have to invent the future. Now, the reason why we should do this, surprisingly enough to the unbelieving, is not even pride. It is more practical than that. It is economic. (The economy, stupid 🙂 ). Long-term sound economics. What is at the core of that which makes a 1st world country a 1st world country? Not the appellage, not the climate, not money, not weapons… but simply the power and the ability to INVENT. The urge as well as the consciousness of the necessity, constantly put into deed, to create new things, to find new self-made solutions, to imagine and anticipate future problems, to constantly improve anything that exists, be it a substance or a process.

If you cannot figure out anything by yourself, you will never be self-dependent and you will never be free, because you will always be dependent on those who do the figuring out and the making. If you cannot make anything by yourself – not just what you yourself need, which in itself would already be a giant step towards self-dependence, but also what others need – you will never be truly independent, because your so-called independence will lack the fortifying ramparts of self-dependence. Every shift in technology is a potential threat to your future stability. You remain constantly one step away from becoming a colony anew. Laugh not at those who warn about neo-colonialism. Political and military independence can be safeguarded long term only by economic self-dependence. And economic self-dependence exists truly only to the extent to which the basis of a people’s, a nation’s or a region’s wealth rests to a large degree on its own capacity for industrial and technological creation. Wealth that comes from the monetary equivalent of fossil fuels stored in the ground by nature’s forces is not real wealth. Real wealth is generated by the power to create or to make (out of something or even out of apparently nothing), to make a needed end-product. Some people call it the power of ideas. I think it’s more than that – we all have ideas. I think it’s the culture of industrial creation; making new things and making things new. Don’t buy everything, build some. Don’t take it, think it.

This is where we have so sorely lagged behind in Sub-Sahara Africa for much too many centuries now. There is no satisfactory excuse for this. We cannot blame others for not giving us the education on time, or in sufficient depth, or spreading it around generously enough without tempering it due to ulterior motives and all the rest of that dialectic, because well they pieced it together and systemized it by themselves, or at least preserved and built upon the documentation and further development of it. We could have also done the same for ourselves over the centuries. All kinds of ethnological theories abound as to why the different continents developed as they did. Well, let bygones be bygones, we are not time-travellers. The moment is now.

Now that we have the knowledge today, why are we still importing the application of it? What will we do when technology shifts away from fossil relics and we no longer have their monetary equivalent with which to pay for the import of new applied intelligence? Is that when we will start trying to learn how to use our own intelligence? Or will we go borrowing from IMF and World Bank? Maybe ‘Independence’ is a pun for a state of living “in dependence”. We need inventors, discoverers and makers, for whatever they imagine and create – or omit to imagine and create – today, is our future tomorrow. We need inventors. Or, to put it differently, we need to identify and, as a matter of public and private policy, indeed as a matter of culture, support our individual inventors specifically and the spirit of invention generally. Institutionalize it even. The cultivation of ideas, the inventing of models, the indigenisation of industry, the manufacture of hardware, the innovation of standards, all this should become a part of our culture.  Put on your time-telescope and peer far into the distance of development: you will see that there is no other road that leads from 3rd World to 1st World.

If there be any Nigerian, indeed any African, in whom the spark of invention, the light of discovery, the visionary eye that sees the future’s questions and answers, the power of innovation and the hunger for creation dwells, then the New African Consciousness must recognise in such a person a rung on the ladder that leads out of the dungeons of dependence. You can only be a part of those who dictate things in the new world if you were one of those who invented and designed that new world.  To set our policy-compass towards the attainment of self-dependence, but also to properly understand the source and anchor of concrete self-dependence in a world increasingly run by the power of ideas, constantly churned into an unending cycle of research and development, this is the nature of the new struggle. The spark of genius rests in the fertile soil of even the most simple mind. Parents, guardians and teachers: encourage your children and wards to join this struggle. Leaders, encourage your people to join this struggle. It is the struggle for self-dependence. Aluta continua.

Once we fought externally for independence. And, according to our definition of it, we got it. But we forgot to also fight internally for self-dependence. Simply put: we became independent, but we never became self-dependent. And it is just like freedom – if you don’t fight for it, you won’t get it. In other words, you cannot get what you have not fought for. You cannot defeat an enemy you have not properly identified. The journey did not end in 1960; it continued: the journey from independence to self-dependence. For what is independence without self-dependence? Nothing. Unsustainable.

And OK, I admit I lied; it’s not just about economics. It’s also a bit about pride. The kind of pride I sensed in a reporter of African descent who I saw on TV not long ago happily interviewing a group of Ugandan university students who had built a functional, beautiful, mobile, modern electric car. The best part was when he asked them why they chose to build an electric car instead of a petrol or diesel engine car. They said, because electric cars are the future. No point building the past.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

SURROGATE MOTHER EARTH AND HER STRANGE CHILDREN OF JOY

Everything about the earth’s geological history and trend suggests the disconcerting and alienating thought that human beings were not intended to exist on it for a long time – speaking in terms of geological time. It seems we are a species, the conditions favourable for whose biological existence would, like a thin strip on the broad spectrum of earth time, be laboriously reached after billions of years of evolution, tenderly maintained for several millions of years (very short compared to the past and future age of the earth), and then gradually evolved away from again. The earth will then plunge further in its cycle into more advanced states of instability or stability, which ever way you want to view it, eventually drastically altering the delicate balance of elementary interplay that once sustained higher animal and, above all, human life upon its surface. Mother Earth, it seems, like all mothers, after bearing and rearing her children, will one day tire of them and expel them from her home.

Whereas the earth is over 4,600 million years old, the first hominids appeared just 4 to 6 million years ago, while human beings as we know them today came on the scene only about 200,000 years ago. It took 1,600 million years for the first cyanobacteria (capable of photosynthesis, thus producing oxygen) to evolve, and after that it took another almost 3,000 million years before humans arrived, and many dramatic things happened along the way. This reminds me of an analogy I once read somewhere: that if the age of the earth up until now were a ninety kilometre long motorway, humans only appear somewhere in the last few meters at the end of the final, the ninetieth, kilometre. Quite awe-inspiring to me. It however does not end there. It keeps moving forward. Discontinuing the influence of human technology, which largely – at least in the short term – seems to be putting more pressure on the earth, the natural geological changes in the earth and solar system will, within many thousands of millions of years in the future, yield an environment poor in exactly those elements and conditions that once called forth biological life. Quite simply, even if in the future the earth is spared every possible kind of accident and trauma that ever befell it in the past, which is highly unlikely, yet the earth will still eventually age. The sun too will dramatically change and become very unfriendly. It seems quite unlikely that the human race will not become extinct some day, at least on earth.

Some say this is where science fiction comes into this motion picture. According to them, science fiction of today is science fact of tomorrow. Man, the technological being, will become master over the laws of nature. Time travel will become possible. The quick traversing of large distances that normally would cover light-years will be achieved. New sources of energy, new methods of making use of energy, would have been developed. New planets colonised. A new super race of galactic humans would have been bioengineered. And all the rest of that flight of fancy. Well, it’s hard to dispute something that has not yet happened. But so far all we seem to do is put ourselves in danger and expose just how vulnerable the human species is. So, as an aside, let’s just hope the bees don’t go extinct. And yet this dogged belief in technology’s ability to secure us a future is understandable, because… what’s the alternative? – eventual Extinction someday?… Really? Extinction?… It’s a thought that’s just inacceptable to the human mind, that the human mind will one day be no more, disappeared with the human being. Because it just does not make any sense: What on earth was the rationale behind the brief physical existence of this species – Human? What was the point? To grow and to know, only in order to forget and to die? The entire species – without being able to pass all that knowledge on to… someone… anyone. Why?

Well, what about passing it on to, retaining and using it, ourselves – somewhere, somehow? What if Mother Earth is not really our mother? Only our surrogate mother? Our temporary womb.

This is the point, I must admit, at which some times my thoughts turn to that little elusive thing called Spirit. That thing of which they say that it originates in a place, in a state, in a consistency, that floats above every measurable concept of time and space, that existed before and will continue to exist after every earth has had its day. They say it, Spirit, coming from there, is eternal and that it alone is in truth the true human being. I have read that it incarnates and reincarnates time and again, seeking maturity. I have read, have heard, have even sensed, that it speaks the language of intuition and will always be incomprehensible to the intellect, and yet will always continue to silently argue with it. Because, if the earth is my mother, who is my father? I know I can’t prove anything to anybody, not even to myself, yet for sure the earth will meet its end one day, and yet there is in me something that will live on, somewhere, somehow, consciously. Eternally and forever. And I call it Conscious Knowing Joy.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.