By Tolu Ogunlesi
What shall it profit a country if its musicians amass a dozen KORAs and Grammys, or its banks overrun West Africa and Wall Street, or its soccer teams monopolise FIFA’s trophies – while its citizens continue to import light-bulbs and toothpicks from China?
How truly great is a land whose roads are devoid of locally-made automobiles, because, like the ghost workers in its civil service and the invisible power plants that dot its territory, the made-at-home automobile remains a ghost invention; a sheaf of mildewed sketches filed away in long-forgotten frustration.
At least twice since its inception, the NLNG-funded Nigeria Prize for Science has gone un-awarded because of the low quality of entries. One year the judges found homemade bottles of wine among the entries.
Yet, every year thousands of people bag basic and advanced degrees in the technological sciences in our universities; their diplomas certified by professors who own two sets of notes – yellowed, dog-eared notes for their longsuffering students; and PowerPoint 2010 files for their foreign fellowships and lecture circuits.
We talk confidently of Vision 20/2020 – taking our place in the world’s top 20 economies by the year 2020 (as a replacement for the ill-fated visions of the past), and go on to make noise about owning the world’s second-largest movie industry; failing to realise that India’s status as an emerging global power depends far less on Bollywood than on Bangalore. For while culture and the arts certainly have a role to play in positioning a country in an increasingly contested global economic space, depending solely on them without making any effort to exploit our technological capacity will be akin to seeking to win a soccer game without leaving your own goal area.
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