Wanted: African investors and innovators


Some people still find time and fascination in harping on slave trade and colonialism. While the episodes brought a lot of suffering on the people of Africa, it is no longer helpful to dwell upon them. Africa has immense human problems which demand solutions by African elites.

These days, almost every week when I watch Al Jazeera and Focus on Africa programme, I am exposed to hundreds of people north of Libya getting smuggled to Europe where they believe they will find better life than in their countries. Some escape hardships in their countries only to meet death in the Mediterranean Sea. They are a pathetic situation.

In the period between 1960 African intellectuals and members of the intelligentsia persuaded masses of their countrymen to follow them in the struggle against foreign rulers of Africa. The masses responded positively and looked forward to an Africa of freedom not from colonial rule but also freedom from hunger and want.


What do we see in attempts to gate-crash into Europe? It is like the spectre of the Israelis in the Sinai desert crying to Moses “Did you bring us here in order to die?” As they asked this question they remembered the flesh pots of food the Pharaoh had been giving them and they wished to return to him. Africans fleeing to Europe are indirectly admitting that they were better off under European masters than their own African masters.

How many people in Africa who dwell in their homes and have enough to eat go through sleepless nights agonising about the wretched ones of the continent.

When Abraham learned that God was going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because people there were indulging in sinful lives he prayed the creator to forgive them. God told him to visit those towns and bring out 10 righteous men upon which God was to withdraw his intention to destroy those cities. Abraham went there. He could not find this small number of righteous men. God went ahead and erased the cities out of the earth.


Africa needs 10 percent of its population dedicated to solving its problems. Each country on its own and all countries collectively should strive to cultivate a 10 percent elite of their populations that will be as totally committed to research, inventions and developments. Time for raging at white people because of slave trade and colonialism is gone. Let us try to learn how they developed the abilities that enabled them to dominate the whole planet. In short, let us find how they invented the devices of modern civilisation and how they still do.

In every school library and public library there should be biographies of great inventors, scientists and entrepreneur of Europe, North America and elsewhere. Our students should not just be taught principles of science but also application. How did Isaac Newton make discoveries that caused Benjamin Franklin to exclaim: “God said: let there be Newton, and then all was light.”

Newton gave a clue to his discoveries. He had stood on the shoulders of the scientific giants and spent most of his time thinking into the problems till they yielded answers. The lesson is that inventors build on the findings of others. Those African scholars who after taking their degrees are merely concerned with earning fat salaries are letting Africa down, Africa needs inventors and theorists concerning its problems.

History of Europe and America makes it clear that inventors created jobs. Samuel Smiles in his classic ‘Self-Help’ says: “It can be said that Arkwright was the founder in England of the modern factory.”

Those who work as electricians owe their jobs to the inventor Thomas Edison; those who are engaged in aviation service owe their jobs to the Wrights brothers. How did these men make inventions? Thomas Edison read the scientific notebooks of Michael Faraday, the Wrights brothers read about the experiments a German had made. In other words these men borrowed from others.

World civilisation has been possible because some people have been humble enough to learn from others. If African governments find it good to allocate budgetary funds to amusements, would it not be better to allocate greater funds to men and women who have the potential to become inventors? It is these people who will create new industries, these new industries will offer additional jobs and fewer Africans will be running away to force their entry into countries that resent them.

Africa must study how Europeans and North Americans organise their people for research invention and innovations.

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