SOUTH AFRICA, TELL ME HOW ARE YOU DOING!! ARE WE OK?
When I was coming through the ranks I was made to understand that our educational fraternity is divided into three main categories viz. Elementary, Catechumen and Superior. Just like the Parliament, a highest legislature consisting of; House of Commons, House of Lords and the Sovereign. I was also made to believe that tertiary education was the most superior and that is why the Kindergartens use gowns at the end of the term, used as an inspiration for the kids to achieve more by emulating their superlative brothers and sisters, university graduates, cool.
At school I did Fundamental Pedagogics and Practical Didactics taught by Prof. Endemann before I was misguided and worked for a big company as one of the people on the floor, a blue-collar and machine operator. One day one of the most expensive machines just gave in and malfunctioned, a compressing unit that costs about a million rand. In the morning, the work-place was flooded and congested with Technicians and amplified by the arrival of a group of Engineers in white helmets, white dust and overcoats with pockets lined up with clusters of coloured writing pens that frequented the papers on their log sheets, compiling data in a process that looked nit-picking. It looked like a real emergency on a mission hunting for problems and solutions at the same time. They were going up, down and sideways of the machine in celerity and after a few hours I overhead their project leader saying; ‘Die compressor is ‘ISM’ meaning it is dead and there was nothing they could do to rehabilitate it except to send it back to its manufacture, to Mitsu Engineering in Japan. He also said; ‘You see, once you open a Japanese machine it’s no longer theirs, it’s yours’. Three days over the line, a big, long truck, a gargantuan mobile crane and a juggernaut arrived and the machine was hauled and whisked away. I then remembered the dismal words of the engineers project leader saying ‘die compressor is in sy moer’. I was left in a compunction and void state.
My problem is; some parents send their children to lavish schools and pay exorbitant and sumptuous amount for school fees and tertiary tuition and they graduate and get internship and placed on probation and finally declared competent and occupy well-paying posts. We adore them very much but they fail just to maintain, not to manufacture. Now tell me are they only maintenance engineers? Why other countries’ engineers can manufacture and ours can’t? Are our engineering studies and etudes inferior compared to theirs? If we don’t have quality universities, why can’t parents here send their children to those universities that offer manufacturing engineering abroad? We have all the raw materials but we only export them for other engineers to manufacture machines for us. What is it that impedes us to produce like them? Please help me as I’m maybe misconstruing issues here, or maybe I must just remain quiet like others and remain a blue-eyed boy to my bosses. But I think I can’t afford to be quiet because to me it is a token of cretin’s surface of foolishness and also looks like accepting wrong things and construing them as correct. I’m not slandering, indicting or badmouthing anybody or our institutions, but honestly, I’m just asking as a dunce, and little tangible explanation will go down well with me, information and knowledge which the engineers should be able to spew it to me and other dunces like me will do. I mean even simple items like water purifier have their manufacturer’s stamps and colophons and most if not all are like ‘Made in ROC’ and India on them, hence imported. Can’t we start by making toys? because they are also marked; made in China and Japan etc. and these are simple things like school handwork. I have for a long time pretended as if I did not notice anything but now I can’t hide my innate anymore especially as it had completely wiped off and stifled that propensity in my heart, to enroll for BSC engineering. You know as a little kid I developed an inclination and affinity for cars and other machinery, powerful beasts like RR (Range Rover), TT (Audi Technetronic), SS (Synchronized System) and many more and I told myself that one day as an adult, I would be proud to work in a car manufacturing factory not like those in Port Elizabeth which are only for body building and assembly. That way I would have culminated the apexes and pinnacles in my career and life but I’m now stuck up in a third world country with a stark contrast to my dream, maybe forever. I’m just hagridden by my wasted potential that has missed the target and detonator to unleash it. That explains it better that I was born an engineer but did not receive proper influence and guidance. Even if I did not make it to the last lap, I mean if I did not get certificated, but I would remain an engineer to a certain extend because even the certificated ones with same certificates don’t possess the same and equivalent knowledge. I’ll always remember the words of the then Northern Province, Ngwako Ramathlodi that still course tinnitus in my ears when he came into power. He said he did not like the idea of the province’s oranges to be taken away in trucks to big cities and brought back as juice and other bi-products. He implied that juice production factories should be established next to orange farms in the same province. That was a great idea that never realised its implementation but remains a good one though, and that is the stance which our government must take in regard of our own minerals and Africa’s animals or else we must not export our raw materials till we get an appropriate way of dealing or using them by ourselves for ourselves. You know what? I don’t mind being a fool, but I hate being a fool forever. If I’m a fool today but get knowledge and be wise tomorrow then that to me is fine. Knowledge is power, give it to us, and share it with us.
By: Modibana Kadi
Author of books:
‘Itinerant Child of Azania’
‘An Egg Never Hatched’
‘Pelong Ya Mmapelo’
‘Dikenywa Tša Tlala’ (Fruits of Hunger)
‘Truth Never Told’
‘A Journey Through Life’