Last month’s fresh presidential election showed what Malawians can achieve on their own, without having to rely 100 percent on foreigners. I keep reminding people that all we need to do is search within, and we will land on possibilities that will amaze us.
I grew up thinking that everything that was made, was made in England. Indeed, everything I picked up or inspected up close, from razor blades to tractors, had the ‘Made in England’ inscription.
The popular vehicles then were Ford Consair, Cortina, Zephyr, Anglia—all British made. Trucks were no exception—we had Ford, Bedford, Thames Trader, Leyland, Albion. These, too, were British made. White people dominated the manufacturing sector. By extension, I also believed that the greatest scientists or engineers had to be British or white.
I was in Standard One when man first landed on the Moon. As a pupil at Nkhoma Mission, I was privileged to view the moon landing footage, shown by means of reel-to-reel, black and white cinematography at the William Murray Teacher Training College next door to our school. All the astronauts shown were white men. This observation entrenched the belief that only white men, and not blacks, or women, or young people below the age of 15, could make it in science.
Over the years I have come to realise that it is not in the interest of the Creator to have some groups of people endowed with intellectual abilities and other groups to be precluded from intellectual pursuits. If we search within any group of people there will be some highly gifted individuals capable of chalking exceptional achievements; there will also be some who are intellectually challenged; but the majority will sit in the middle section. Statisticians call this normal distribution.
To show that intellectual ability is normally distributed even among Africans, I wrote about Ether Okade some years ago. Esther was born in the UK to Nigerian parents. At the age of 10, she enrolled with a British University to study Mathematics. This was in 2015. Her performance as a Mathematics student was so exceptional that in at least one test she scored 100 percent.
Esther obtained her PhD in Mathematics at the age fourteen, before she could be permitted to drive. One of the books she has authored is titled Yumny Yummy Algebra and is meant to introduce youngsters to the pleasures of Mathematics. Young, black and female, Esther has shown that the belief I held previously (and which some people still hold) is finally and permanently dismantled and discredited.
In 2017, Texas Christian University (TCU), in the United States of America, enrolled a 10 year old as a fresh undergraduate. He was Carson Huey-You, an African American son of a single mother. Carson went on to read Quantum Physics, majoring in that giant of the Academia and minoring in Chinese. This prodigy goes through the most imaginably complicated Mathematics as easily as spelling his name.
When Carson graduated from the TCU aged 14, he went down in the history books as the youngest person ever to have graduated from that university. He has since completed his Masters degree and is studying for his PhD.
Carson’s mother, Claretta Kimp, home schooled his son from age 2 until he began eighth grade aged 5. It was after she realised that her son was exceptionally gifted that she began to home school him so early. He also home schooled Carson’s younger and only brother, Cannan, who turned out to be another progidy. Cannan is a student at the same university, studying Electronic Engineering and will also graduate at the age of 14. He wants to become an astronaut.
I put it to the reader that every place has its own brilliant sons and daughters. No single place has a monopoly over intelligence. True, Britain has produced a string of geniuses, including Isaac Newton, Michael Farady, Jethro Tull, William Shakespeare, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, among many others. America too has her own undoubted geniuses, as have Israel, Russia, Germany and other predominantly white countries.
An honest search within black comminities will throw up people like Esther Okade or Carson and Cannan Huey You who can match or even surpass the intellectual abilities of white people. Yes, we lagged behind for some time due to historical or social factors but we have what it takes to exude some brilliance in all human endeavours, not excluding science and technology.
By the way NASA is planning to send the first woman to the Moon in 2024. The honour may well fall on Jessica Watkins, an African American lady whose PhD was on landslides on Mars.