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From today go, no leaders without education

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Professor Tshilidzi Marwala has put together a book LEADING IN THE 21ST CENTURY: The Call for a New Type of African Leader, which should be easy to read and understand. The reason for the book is simple. Marwala says: “It became apparent to me that, due to the complexity of problems that humanity faces today, those who do not know should not lead.

For West Africans and especially Ghanaians, the most difficult aspect of Prof Marwala’s demand is that politicism must be removed from African leadership. Says Marwala: “Kwame Nkrumah (1909 – 1972) … said: ‘Seek ye first political kingdom, and all else shall be added unto you.’ Thus, he ushered in Africa where politics became a fashion statement, adored by many and damned by few; a continent that is dominated by politics at the expense of all other vital factors such as the economy and technology” (page 3).

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To a large extent, this idea of getting political freedom first and everything will be added is part of the false strategy of the two-stage strategy revolution. And come to think of it, did the colonial administration learn from Nkrumah that it was possible to split politics from the economy, give the politics to the African agitators and keep the economics to themselves. To get to the bottom of this argument, we need to study the outcome of the freedom struggle in India and in Latin America. This is, especially so because Marwala cites the example of China when Deng Xiaoping embarked on the modernization of China.

China had been lagging behind the West for five hundred years. It suffered the humiliation of military defeat by Japan and Britain. For him, modernisation will have education, modern education at its centre.

All citizens must be educated. Those with an interest in science and technology will be given science and technology but they must also have the humanities and social sciences.

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These times are not like those times of the past. World population has ballooned. Land for planting and harvesting is drying up and turning to dust. Feeding billions of people is becoming a major headache. Leaders have to think of these issues.

Everyday weather has become unpredictable. World temperature is rising. Ice-caps are melting and island nations are finding their habitats to be the sea and nowhere else. Some communities have begun experimenting with what sea-living will feel like.

Office buildings left unused during the night might have to be domesticated. Just as the pandemic forced people to work from home, we might have to rest in the office!

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But it is the demands that the 4th Industrial Revolution makes on human beings of the 21st Century that makes educated leadership a must and a sine qua non. What is this 4IR?

In Yoruba culture “Awon Babalawo a maa mo sigidi.” (The great medicine men and women, those with know usually builds images which then go on errands for them. But we have, or we never reached the stage where Sigidi builds their own sigidi, a robot builds another robot. Our educational system never reached the stage where robots, through artificial intelligence, algorithms replace human beings. This is the clothing of the digital industrial revolution. To use these digital advantages, the South African government has set up a 4IR Commission of which Prof Marwala is the deputy chairperson after the President.

The commission has given the government 8 recommendations:
• …prioritize a redesign of the human capacity development ecosystem in order to link our entire pool of potential employees into productivity. and decent work;

• … develop ‘The National Artificial Intelligence Institute’ which must focus the application of AI to health, agriculture, finance, mining, manufacturing as well as government and regulations;

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• … establish a platform for advanced manufacturing and new materials;

• … secure and make available data to enable innovation; necessitates the building of a National Data Centre;

• … to incentivize future industries, platforms and applications of 4IR technologies to improve South Africa’s competitiveness;

• … to build 4IR infrastructure which integrates with existing economic and social infrastructure;

• … review, amend or create policy and legislation; and

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• … establish a 4IR strategy implementation coordination council, which will coordinate government departments responsible for 4IR related programmers.

One must assume that it is possible to fulfil all these eight recommendations. But anyone familiar with the educational system as at present practised knows that those recommendations will dangle in the air most of the time. If those recommendations are to mean anything the whole educational system will have to change.

As the saying goes ‘more science less fiction.’ We need to change our mentality from ‘superstitious sentimentality’ to scientific logical thinking.

To watch so-called prophets and men and women of God administer farts to our people, make them eat grass and other horrors is pathetic. One cannot but feel sorry for our humankind to be so degraded and reduced to worse than animals. This must change. No matter the number of commissions governments set up, no matter the number of recommendations they make, superstition and Science do not go together.

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If a proper survey were to be made over the years, it would be found that mathematical thinking is seeping out of our society. More and more of our people are proudly shouting how deficient they are when it came to mathematics. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

We must not forget that Science has its own wonders and near-inexplicable incidents. We can set out in pursuit of such wonders of Science. Take for instance the Internet of Things, one of the pillars of the 4IR. The Oxford dictionary gives the following definition: “the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.” In simple terms, the Internet of Things refers to a system of interrelated, internet-connected objects that are able to collect and transfer data over a wireless network without human intervention. The personal or business possibilities are endless. Smart surveillance, automated transportation, smarter energy management systems, water distribution, urban security and environmental monitoring are examples of the internet of things. Our response is: are we really serious where there are no street roads and houses have no numbers?

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