Let’s get Curious!

“Curiosity” the saying goes “killed the cat”. First of all we Africans don’t like cats, we aren’t curious and we don’t want to even mention death. I love cats and have had one or more around the house as long as I can remember- to many of my friends’ disapproval. You’ll never see a black man walking towards the unknown saying “who’s there?!” We run in the opposite direction scared-to-death of death.

Two recent occurrences got me really thinking on the issue of how Africa can solve its problems by getting curious- by digging deeper to the root cause of problems and by planning for the future, not just quick fix solutions which are most of the time given through foreign aids and grants.

The discovery of 9 exoplanets which circle Trappist-1 a star 40 light years (235 trillion miles) from earth is a game changer and researchers at NASA led by a Belgian research team are now studying the possibility of life on the planets within the Goldilocks zone due to probable findings of rocky and watery ocean bodies. Really? Figuring out the existence of exoplanets and the possibility of life on another planet? What for? We have famine and other problems here on earth, especially here on our continent, is what an African would quip. Why? Because we are not curious enough.

The World’s first passenger drone was unveiled at CES 2016 in Las Vegas. It will now serve as the World’s first taxi drone which will begin operation this July in Dubai. I heard this news first on a local radio station, the OAP went on to mention how this drone taxi was of no use in Dubai — after all she had been and there were good roads without traffic congestion. She felt really smart saying this, but shouldn’t have. The problems of tomorrow are being solved today is how I see it and if they never get to suffer traffic jams, they have made history and would generate massive revenue from this project nonetheless.

Lagos is the commercial hub of Nigeria with over 24million people- you don’t want to see what goes on upon the roads; the traffic goes on for miles and cost the economy many man-hours. There is not one credible solution that has been implemented or even proffered- only that we have wasted resources buying used buses to again populate the roads, or worse, acquired motorbikes and tricycles popularly called “Okada” and “Keke Maruwa” respectively as public transportation. Shamelessly, our governments have even given them out in the name of “poverty alleviation schemes”. These things are like swamps of bees in the streets and even worse they cause enormous pollution. The drone taxi will be a step in the right direction- although I can already see the many challenges having those here will pose.

A Russian diplomat to Nigeria at an event to honour a young Nigerian doctor back in 2015 said “Genetically, Nigerians grasp Knowledge easily”. While this may be subjective I strongly agree, but I think it’s a completely different ball game to think independently and be curious- one thing I struggled with during my time at a foreign University undertaking a Masters. We Africans love and celebrate titles such as Chief, Dr., Barrister and so on without knowing the expectation or caring to live up to the expectation of the title. We have a lot of academic Doctors and Professors but it seems as though it’s all for the certificates they can display on shelves and in the cases of those in “diaspora” to improve foreign lands. We are in dire need for practical solutions to our problems which schooling and degrees would not necessarily give us. I know there are many limiting factors in Nigeria- in Africa, and the West seems to offer an enabling environment but let us start from somewhere in order to attain this development we yearn, let’s start from somewhere- with what we have, let’s get curious.