PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
XFactor
 
Comments: 1
Article views: 133
 
 
Latest Badges:


 
View all XFactor's badges.
 

Lessons from Serendip

11 January 2013, 08:02

Since my last article, I did a bit of reading and came across the fictitious story of “The Three Princes of Serendip”. According to the fairy tale, three Persian princes sailed off to make their fortunes in the "land of silk", an island called Serendip. Along the way, the princes made all types of wondrous and delightful discoveries about the island, and learned things they never expected. From this very silly tale is derived the modern word serendipity, which means “the act of finding something valuable or delightful when you are not looking for it”.

The word serendipity may be relatively new in the English language, but human history is littered with serendipitous events. From the discovery of the hallucinogenic effects of opium, to the accidental discovery of the important antibiotic Penicillin, serendipity has provided the impetus for many turning points in history as we know it. And the list of accidental discoveries and inventions is almost endless. It seems genius is not the only way to make important scientific inventions and discoveries! Many of the modern advancements we see around us owe part of their very existence to some rather fortuitous event in the past. This brings me to the important question of how Africa can advance. I’m sure we all want a modern and prosperous Africa, filled with high rise buildings and thriving economies. Free of hunger and disease, and the ravages of war. There are currently many efforts towards attaining all these for the African continent, yet most, if not all of these efforts, have achieved very little. Could it be because the west has gone about trying to aid Africa’s advancement the wrong way?

 I’m of the belief that taking a less direct approach to dealing with Africa’s problems might actually be the way forward. Sending in troops and shipping in tons of food has clearly not got to the root of the problem! If you are a careful student of history, you would realize that Europe and America’s founding fathers were not originally thinking of high rise buildings and booming international trade. Some early visionaries might have had such thoughts in their minds at the time, but these things only became possible and desirable to ordinary citizens simply because their societies had advanced enough to support these ‘higher concepts’. Consider colonization from a European point of view, it was only after ship building, navigation and ammunitions had been discovered/invented that the conquest of foreign lands became possible. These simpler societal advancements laid the foundations for ‘higher ambitions’. In much the same way, our journey as human beings into space could not have been possible without the advancements that took place in the fields of civil aviation and rocketry here on earth.    

My advice to Africa and the rest of the poor nations is that we must learn from the west as best we can. I say this because the European and his seed dominate the world for a reason, and third world nations have found their way to the bottom of the food chain in part because we fail in the same areas that the Europeans were able to master and use in their advancement. I will explain my point with an example. Consider the way knowledge and invention was systematically incorporated into the academic institutions of the west many centuries ago. This was done because people in Europe at the time realized that education and the pursuit of knowledge was important and it allowed them to advance, hence their advantage today. Through this knowledge they were able to build ships, navigate the seas and now they even send probes deep into outer space. These higher ambitions were made possible by the simpler needs to learn and understand lesser concepts like geometry and the very nature of matter. In a way, this was serendipity! The Wright brothers were not planning to put a man on the moon, but their actions ultimately played a pivotal role in making space travel possible. Fortunately most nations have now adopted this model of educating their people and we can all now be part of this scientific process. So it’s really about equipping a country’s citizens with the right skills, tools and desires. From there onward, people can do amazing things when given the chance! There is nothing special about richer nations; they are rich because their citizens are wired to work hard and produce wealth from the available resources. Africans on the other hand have the unfortunate reputation of being wired to pursue sensual pleasure and the pursuit of immediate riches, with little regard for much else!

I believe the reason that Pan Africanism remains a great notion on paper but without any far reaching results is that it lacks a practical and feasible working model. Castigating “the British” for their past “sins” hardly passes as a viable working plan for advancing the continent. Today, some of our government’s main tools of economic advancement are the sometimes controversial BEE and Affirmative Action programs. I have no trouble with governments stepping in and trying to empower its own people, yet I feel this is a shortcut to real African success that will NOT endure. I’m not saying BEE and Affirmative Action programs don’t have their place in the fight for African emancipation, I’m saying that in the spirit of serendipity, a lot of that support and money could have far reaching effects if channeled towards the grassroots rather than directly into people’s pockets. Once we have rightly educated, and well equipped citizens, then overcoming some of the countries pressing issues will certainly become much easier.  

The prevalence of corruption and crime in Africa is in itself an indictment on the moral fiber of mainly the black African. If this problem of crime and corruption is to be vanquished, then a lot needs to be done to foster honesty, integrity and genuine values into our young black men and women. It is believed that if you want to see where any country is headed, then you need to look no further than its youth. Stories of teen rape, violence and crime in our schools paint an ugly picture for our country’s future. The fact that about 74% of matriculants passed their exams yet roughly only 27% of the pupils achieve university exemption status highlights a critical failure of our education system at the key grassroots level. These figures mean that either the academic gap between matric and universities is too large, or that the matric process is fundamentally flawed. Whatever is responsible for this discrepancy, its very existence does not bode well for South Africa’s future.

To summarize, I’m saying you build complex components from simple ones. Like the lesson from nature in which all the heavier elements like Carbon and Oxygen can theoretically be synthesized from the simplest and smallest of atoms (Hydrogen) in Supernovae. Similarly, billions of tiny electrical switches working together in harmony have given rise to the brilliant invention that we have come to know as the computer! If we didn’t have switches, we wouldn’t have computers!

So, let’s get the simple and most basic of things right first, the greater and desirable targets like the eradication of poverty, peace, racial harmony and the realization of a stable and a self-sufficient African continent will come as a consequence of getting these “basics” right! 

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Lion87
A Letter to Danny Jordaan

The administration are so incompetent it makes the ANC seem like the excellence of the Swiss!  Read more...

6 comments 816 views
Traveller from Kasi

Let’s just face it, travelling can be a bliss. Read more...

6 comments 173 views
Submitted by
Larry
International law is not a suicid...

Reason will apportion blame where it belongs. Only the children of Gaza are innocent and their blood is on Hamas’s hands.  Read more...

24 comments 452 views
Submitted by
Samantha Corbett
What does a book mean to you?

The right to literacy and the right to education should be fundamental pillars for every society. Books represent many things, but at their core, they’re a powerful medium for education and the growth and distribution of knowledge Read more...

2 comments 109 views
Submitted by
Reflect 014
Is this Middle Ages Plague stagin...

In addition to the ongoing spread and efforts to contain the Ebola virus there has been a re-emergence of a middle-ages bacterial disease known as Bubonic plague. Read more...

10 comments 291 views
Submitted by
MIcheal Rhodes
Dear South Africa, being black do...

I have read a plethora of comments on this site with one underlying message; black people in general are incompetent. Dear South Africa that could not be further from the truth.  Read more...

64 comments 1577 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2014 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.