The author, Bright Simons

How many of us who claim an education in these parts can through intuition and observation come up with a rough method to estimate the circumference of the Earth, without feeling:

A. That it is a useless endeavour;

B. That is an intimidating prospect; or

C. That it is a matter best left to those with massive resources, exceptional capacity, or exceptional upside?

Yet this is a problem approximately solved by Egyptian mathematics and Greek imagination more than 2000 years ago and then several times in several contexts in different parts of the world throughout antiquity. The posture of the educated to such problems has not followed a straight course throughout history though, and certainly, you can observe this in your own surroundings.

Look carefully at the excuses listed above as likely to account for why most people blessed with an education in these parts may not have bothered in the past to address such ‘problems’ nor would even pause to reflect over the matter today. (By the way, the reason why some managed to develop global colonial enterprises whilst we were stuck to our own backyard during our political expansions stems from not addressing problems of this nature to expand knowledge for knowledge’s sake).

 If you accept that the excuses listed above are typical, you may be receptive to the subsequent generalisation that these perspectives also characterise our attitude to knowledge production generally. If you accept that further inference, you need to really reflect on the serious consequences. WE ARE NOT GUARANTEED BY ORDINARY SOCIAL EVOLUTION TO BECOME MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO GLOBAL KNOWLEDGE.

At best we can MIMIC some of the rituals of contribution in our educational systems and through the signalling afforded by our foreign degrees and occasional employment by powerful Northern institutions. If you doubt this do a global search for high-impact citations in any field and see how many of our people show up as actually contributing to the expansion of the frontiers of any discipline.

The mere proliferation of formal educational opportunities, learning technologies like the Internet, and certain economic functions which spur certain new requirements for frontier skills in our part of the world MEAN NOTHING. At the root of whether as a civilisation, system, or culture, we, in these parts, shall make fundamental and breakthrough contributions to knowledge is A SET OF CULTURAL QUESTIONS.

It is about the fact that the INTELLECTUAL CLIMATE of no society automatically tends towards superior knowledge (our diaspora has umbilical cords to our civilisation in more ways than we care to admit, so this applies to them too). In fact, the contrary is true: all societies must contend with an ‘entropy of ignorance’ over time.

So the process of creating ‘more’ enlightenment over time is a deliberate process.

Posting about Obinim’s congregation as if they represent some kind of strange and extraordinary phenomenon requiring special explanation is both naive and myopic, if not outrightly dangerous. It makes the assumption of an ‘automatic evolution of enlightenment’ in this society.

What requires reflection and also clarification   (i.e. what is curious and thus deserving of social or public analysis) is WHAT EXACTLY all of us need to be doing DELIBERATELY and in a coordinated fashion to advance the state of knowledge in the uphill battle against the guaranteed normalisation of ignorance, which is the ordinary course of all human societies and systems.



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