Legs Matching Forward Heads Hankering Backward – Trouble!
Wo ‘bi t’ o nlo! Watch where you are going! This is the pristine instruction from proverbial parents to all children on earth. You cannot be going in one direction and hankering after another. But that is what the Nigerian persona has been doing since its independence. As a result of this way of going about things, some logical follow-ups (or follows-up!) shock us to a stand-still. The image of legs going the opposite direction to where the head faces is problematic. But that is us.
Take the small matter of devaluation of the naira. The World Bank wants it. The IMF preaches it. And now the Nigerian persona is also insisting on it. Yet, capitalist as preached by the World Bank and the IMF says that you devalue your currency if you are a net exporter thereby making your products cheaper for your buyers, over and above those of your rival producers. But you do not devalue your currency if you are a net importer since you stupidly make your imports more expensive for yourself. In fifty or so years of the World Bank and the IMF advising African governments, and African governments failing to make it economically, neither the World Bank nor IMF have shared in the blame for the economic failure of African countries.
Let us take another small matter, the one about Eze Ndigbo outside of Igbo territorial borders. The position is now that it is a no no, since you cannot have two kings in the same palace. But the fact is that we already have many kings and emperors in this decrepit palace of ours. The Eze in Yorubaland is just a small matter underlining the new situation. Look at it this way. Nigeria, we are told, is a Federal Republic, and as republics go, there should be no rulership by royal birth. But have you counted lately the number of kingdoms, of empires and of principalities in this same republic of Nigeria? Did we not realise that we are giving the same territorial space both the title of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as the empire of Ogbese kingdom? Now that the Deji of Akure kingdom insists that he cannot have another king strolling around his palace, perhaps President Muhammadu Buhari will call a halt to the multiplicities of kingdoms messing up his republic!
Today, around the world, countries match forward and look forward. But they take time to look back and see where they are coming from. They do not live in the present and sleep in the past, they do not suffer in the present and dream in the past. The Japanese, at the point they encountered western nuisance, accepted to take whatever they can get from the West, add it to what they have from their past and go forward with the combination. That way, they became the second largest economy in the world for most of the 20th century. They perfected their past of miniaturisation by developing nanotechnology to the point where the world now looks to them for leadership in that area. How do we in Nigeria fail to link bonsai art of Japan with modern nanotechnology, and everybody else does?
The Chinese have done the same thing after years of fooling around in the wilderness of Maoism and dangerous adventurism in scientific industrialisation. Under Mao, the past was legislated out of existence. No Confucius, thank you we are Chinese. They got no-where. Then there came a period of deliberate stealing of western technology, in broad daylight along with the restoration of Confucius into the Chinese society. The Chinese would arrange a joint production of say vehicles with some western company producing vehicles. About a mile away, not too far from the joint project they would set up a factory producing the same vehicles. When their western partners complain about the blatant thiefing going on, they would be told by the Chinese not to look that way. Today, China is the second largest economy in the world.
Go back to the beginning of the 20th century and the industrialization of what was then the Soviet Union. Again blatant stealing from the west of everything and anything that would help them to industrialise. Forced feeding and forced matches but heads facing the direction that the feet were matching. As Russia, the country is fighting to have its respect restored and confirmed by the world powers of the 21st century. We should not forget the so-called Asian tigers, which industrialised on the back of Japan and today are major speakers in anything that has to do with human development including the eradication of poverty. They are manufacturers and innovators in every field of human efforts.
They all have succeeded by combining ogbon ologbon, the wisdom of others, with their own to become what they all are today. They did this through planned borrowing from others. They did this through their educational programmes. They did this by domesticating the knowledge and scientific discoveries of others. India, the latest company of the successfully modern, did what the others did. In fact, India seems to buck the trend of the others. Japan, China, Korea all translated western science into their languages in their process of domesticating the knowledge. Through that process, translating into their languages, they then followed up with their own contribution to the process and so, they developed and industrialised.
India has bucked the system. India has done what it has done by using the colonial language English to develop. Forget the poverty of the Indian majority. Don’t mind the multiplicity of languages, religions, beliefs and distractions of the Indian societies and communities. Ignore the polluting of the rivers of India through the sacrifices and offerings of millions of believers. Because in spite of these realities, Indian scientific progress goes on, Indian mastery of the peaks of modern technology does not slack, Indian nuclear bomb is safe in their silos, and Indian space research is putting spacemen and women up there, demanding that India’s share be not consumed by others.
You cannot do all these things while you are matching in one direction and facing the very opposite direction. Backwardness is the result.