Dearth, death of intellectualism among youths in Nigeria (1)

Youths-(2)-CopyTHE World Youth Day was celebrated some three weeks ago, precisely on August 12, 2015. In view of this, I wish to address a rather appalling trend which I have observed with keen interest but utter disgust among most youths today in the society.

Basically, it is not in youths of today to read hard literature and be delightfully yielded to the pleasing, gentle cuddle and rocking of intellectual texts.

And if at all they read literature of some sort, it does not usually exceed fiction novels of various genres: romance, thriller; erotica or pornographic materials; sport and lifestyle articles on soft-sell magazines and tabloids.

We celebrate the youth as we reflect on youth and intellectualism in today’s world, but I shall mainly draw attention to the dearth and death of intellectualism in this society and, by extension, the African society.

We are presented in life with a vast variation in living things, and so is it with mankind that, for instance, surprisingly, no couple of finger prints belonging to any two persons in the whole world no matter how closely related can be equal. I keep wondering how this is so.

Likewise, no wise counsellor offers the same counsel to all his clients even when any two of them share similar issues. Poor Emerson when he learnt the bitter lesson bared his soul: “Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh.”

I cannot pretend to be on that list. Nevertheless, my observation is worth making. Intellectualism is obviously one of the infamous isms of life we dread to talk about, some of which being Darwinism, ethnocentrism, conservatism, and even some we dread to experience, like alcoholism, racism, communism, fundamentalism, terrorism.

Unlike these boring isms, intellectualism is actually a very scintillating and noble phenomenon. And I use the word ‘phenomenon’ for want of a better word to describe it.

It is not just a state, or a way, or an action, it is something fundamentally enigmatic that, developed speech aside, distinguishes man in general from other creatures (at least the ones we know on earth).

And, more intrinsically, it distinguishes some men from other men. But intellectualism is much more than the intellect or mind. It is more than intelligence which word some folks ignorantly substitute for it.

Intellectualism is… well… absurdity, in the words of some intellectuals like Jami and Orwell. It is not simply illogical or insensible, this absurdity, but rather complex over-logical and over-sensible.

Intelligence, familiarly, is the ability to learn and understand things. It is naturally acquired, as it is with other intelligent animals like the dolphin and dog. This is not so with intellectualism which is not an ability but an activity. It is an activity wherein an educated mind thinks seriously about things. It is not naturally acquired, it is developed.

Only humans can be intellectual. In short, intelligence is ability, intellectualism an activity. In another way, all intelligent people are not intellectuals, but all intellectuals are intelligent.

In addition, unlike the simply intelligent, the intellectual must be actively involved in scholarship or in a scholarly profession, and must at least have an academic background in one or all of the arts, humanities and sciences. As earlier explained, intellectualism denotes the use, development, and exercise of the intellect.

It is the rigorous employment of all mental skills in all logical, critical and analytical way by the well-educated man to ponder solemnly on complicated concepts, abstract, philosophical or concrete, concerning his immediate environment or the universe in whole, and to procure amazing answers and solutions previously unimagined to even the most difficult of questions and problems. • To be continued.

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