Psychological imperialism and our tardy voyage to collective discovery (2)
In psychology, what constitutes intelligence can’t be absolutely universal. We can’t say because a drummer boy can’t read the language of Stern’s test, English, but can use the drums to ‘speak in tongues’ (what only geniuses in his clan could do) isn’t intelligent using Stern’s test developed in Germany as the yardstick.
There are other several examples in our higher institutions. Theories that were postulated and researched in Europe, for instance, are imported wholesale and taught directly in the social and management sciences without radical modifications and local adaptation. Even though some variables are universal, they still have variations largely due to cultural specificity which must be considered in the test development and application process.
How much more those that are culture specific? Engineering students are forced to study and even cram outdated textbooks that can never be productive. In essence, this system has consistently produced generations of people (except a few) who have had it carved in their subconscious the uncritical inferiority of their cognitive abilities and inventive cum creative capabilities which, of course, isn’t true. It isn’t as if, like my Professor would say, when God created us, he put brain in some people’s skulls and sawdust in others’ just because of the colour of their skin. Never! Brain is brain, it depends on what you do with it, except in cases of biological deformities and mental disorders to which Nigeria is home to only a few like any other country.
Several examples abound in our society. What we consider civilised in some cases, if systematically checked, has elements of comparison with the West or Europe. We must be able to consider issues on merits, with independent minds, and decide what is best for us and not the uncritical shopping for standards of civilisation in other ‘hegemonic’ climes.
Ergo, if we must have real, all-round and lasting change, we must, as a matter of exigency, begin the tardy voyage to collective discovery, efficacy and productivity. Even if we can’t change democracy, we should be able to practise it in a way reflective of the comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the realities of our people and massive attempts must be made to directly engage them in appropriate ways for national growth and development.
We must embark on a massive, radical, domestic and comprehensive overhaul of our education system in ways that put our peculiarity and how it can be marshalled for national development into consideration. Real research works that directly study our environment in order to powerfully explore its potentialities for even and national development must be embarked upon and heavily sponsored. We must create our own models in technology and other inventions and innovations for the rest of the world to imitate.
With our knowledge in herbs for instance, although dispersed and uncoordinated, we can kick-start a process of exploration, harmonisation and coordination of activities related to herbal medicine by the development and pursuit of a Marshall plan to standardise it for our use and export. Innovations would definitely get fillips and young Nigerians would be productively engaged.
We can fix our problems!” Those were the words of President Muhammadu Buhari at his inaugural ceremony. Those words are gratifying and tingling and I hold them with my molar teeth even tighter than those that obviously caught everyone’s attention- ‘I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.’ The statement is pregnant of great fortunes and one can only hope it births great actions too.
The great actions are those to be reflective of our resolve to explore our numbers and resources to better our lots, Africans and the world in that order. These are actions whose ultimate goal is to create a robust manufacturing economy which, in the long term, can start to birth products that are of great standards and can compete anywhere in the world.
We should be able to produce our own home-made standard cars, manufacture our weapons and ammunition, build aircrafts, produce and export clothing items, postulate our domestic theories, write and export our own books, build computers and other ground breaking technological inventions.
Of course, this is not a call for a total breakaway from the West or Europe as that’s not realistic. This isn’t either a picture of the West or Europe as being only abodes to evil and exploitation. This is rather a call to self determination and collective efficacy cum productivity which exploit the virtues and niceties from other parts of the world without being servitude to it.
My fellow compatriots, the future of our continent, Africa, is very bright, I can see it! Nigerians, as the people of its nucleus must begin this tardy collective journey to discovery, productivity and prosperity post-haste in order to yank the true fate of Africa from the utopia it’s always been kept and hang it on glorious reality. It begins with you!
• Lawal Temitayo Adebayo is a fresh psychology graduate, OAU,
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