Friday, October 19, 2007

James Watson is a Nobel Prize winner who helped unravel the mystery of DNA and now runs an American research institute. He recently stated that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really". He said there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".

Watson has now retracted his statement and even apologized for suggesting that Africans are inferior. His research institute, The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, has put him on suspension with the possibility of further action.

I am stupefied that in this day and age we are still having discussions about the science behind the intelligence of 'black folks'. No, not really. People have been making such arguments for decades and will not stop anytime soon.

I do not support Watson's sentiments, but I want to pose a question here. Have we, the Black race, allowed for such insults to be hurled our way? Many African countries lack the semblance of normality. Zimbabweans are hungry and suffering, Nigerians are living in filth and poverty, the people of Darfur are fighting to survive under violent conditions, children around the continent are being forced to become soldiers. There is very little positive news coming out of the continent. Yes, I know there are people doing positive things, but our governments hamper their efforts at every turn, their peers sabotage their dreams, and those that should act as role models, have no vision.

I am not trying to justify Watson's statements. I am too proud of my ancestry and origins to ever subjugate my pride and strength to the opinions of any bigot and racist, no matter how many Nobel Prizes he/she has been awarded. I only want to suggest that Africans, in fact all black peoples, take this as an additional wake up call. WE HAVE TO GET OUR ACT TOGETHER!!! We cannot afford to sit back and not take a stance on the future of our various nations. Inaction on our part will strangle the breath out of any possible legacy we could leave for our children. Many Nigerians already hang their heads in shame whenever our country is mentioned in the Western media because the news is never good. Some Nigerians will not even go where other Nigerians are congregated due to a lack of trust and faith in our fellow country-people.

BLACK PEOPLE GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER. Nobody is going to fix Africa's problems if you do not have an opinion on the future of your homeland. Yes, I am talking to you. If you do not have a vision for your country's future, and if you do not find ways to apply that vision, even in the smallest way, well, there will be no Nigeria, no Cote D'Ivoire, no Kenya, no Malawi, no Tanzania, no Egypt, no Chad to someday show your children. There will remain nothing of your ancestors to leave for future generations. By then, our failures as individuals would have confirmed Watson and other's beliefs that as a race our lack of intelligence kept us backward and resulted in our demise!

You can read Jeremy's take on this at Naija Blog.

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Waffarian said...

My sister! It is not lack of intelligence, but GREED. I have thought about this and every where, Its the same. Greed for power, greed for money,na "Oga/ Madam" syndrom. We are always getting temporary solutions instead of looking at long term solutions. Last time I was in Nigeria, all around, there were so many "short term" goals, people are too hungry and impatient to wait and see the fruits of hardwork. Easy come, easy go. In the case Of Africa, that is the problem. There is a proverb that says "teach the people HOW to fish, instead of just giving them fish." We need education. The only reason why this bad circle of corruption keeps going on is because the people know no other way. We need education and people that are willing to work hard and be patient enough to see the fruits of their labour. We seriously need education in that country. However, I will also be happy to see everybody over 40 disappear from the government, I don't know if they can be rehabilitated. They are all too far gone.

Waffarian said...

Just look at that Etteh woman! Haba! Where are those overzealous "sharia stonners and floggers" when you need them? If there was ever anybody that needed to be "flogged" or "stoned", this is the perfect person!

Beauty said...

"To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologise unreservedly" Dr Watson was a joint winner in 1962 of the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA, the molecule that lies at the heart of heredity in living organisms. Before people write this man off, may I suggest that you look into his work and refelct on these words, "Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle" -Philo of Alexandria.

Skin colour as a surrogate for race is a social concept not a scientific one, but beyond the stereotypes and clich├ęs, It is Better to be inviting, rather than invisible. I may not agree with his concept but I will defend his right to lament and attempt to explain the root causes of the chaos in Africa. Watson also said, "This is not a discussion about superiority or inferiority, it is about seeking to understand differences, about why some of us are great musicians and others great engineers." Please note the word "great".

Of course, Africans as well as others are creating miracles everyday, but the concern is the regression in Africa. Nigeria is an oil-rich Cinderella state that never quite made it to the ball. During the 1970s, when oil prices rocketed, Nigeria looked set to become the shining example of a prosperous and democratic West African republic but perversely managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The oil prices have rebounded but grief and sorrow have multiplied in our country.
Is it racist to point out that "one does not love a place the less for having suffered in it unless it has all been suffering, nothing but suffering" (Jane Austen).

The apocalyptic vision of the newsmakers [does not] accurately document the world community. Nor are they particularly helpful in forming a picture of our common humanity. Intellegence involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings.

The rest of the planet is searching for ways to improve their lot and measuring their successes while Africa celebates mediocre. Our governments go around the world begging for aid disguised as investments while our people die to leave our rich continent. What is beyond the point of acceptable debate?

akin said...

You make a very valid point here. Not that I agree with Dr.Watson's views at all, I have to admit that as a people at times, we don't do ourselves any favours. No one is perfect, but there is always the chance of making things happen to better ourselves. But we let greed (where most socio problems stem from) cause more palaver than it's worth.

Just my 2cents (or kobo)

cinnamonqueen said...

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Check it out - you might like it! :)

ijebuman said...

oh well at least Watson has confirmed one of the reasons why our "yahoo yahoo" boys are very successful at what they do, their victims assume they are of 'inferior' intelligence and end up parting with large sums of money..

Misan said...

Great post, i'm with you on this one, we need to get our act together to prevent pp from actually thinking twice about such claims. Our greed coupled with the mass passivity plaguing our continent has made things worse for our people to the point that we are the laughing stock of the rest of the world and sadly, even ourselves.
I wish i had the magic formula, or the "next steps" that would get us out of this quagmire, but i don't:(

Confessions of a moody crab said...

Interesting I must say. Like I said on my blog, we have a long way to go! We have all it take to built a country yet we are doing the reverse. In Nigeria, it seems the answer to our problem is to get rich quick or die trying.

I hope we learn from othe sucessful states.

LurLar said...

lol @ijebuman's comment. I agree with u.

I was so disgusted by Watson 's statement,but i agree with u. We caused it. Can any good positive thing come out of Africa? Am saying probably NO....cause when people are motivated to go forward,nd do things that's right...they get shut down by the greedy d tune is: If you can't beat them you join them.

When we ask people wat r d ways to keep Africa Continent clean? They say take out all d corrupt leaders.

Honestly with the way things are....the young ones are going to do worst things.

Lemme stop...cos am going to keep going nd going.

Nice Post...i really love it.

Omosewa said...

Just lost my epistle o...cry.
Anyways, the koko of my gist was, this guy needs to be retired...
Nigerians and all Africans need to be the change they want to see, individually and collectively make a huge impact...Africa will get there, one day, i hope its in my time and with my actions.

t said...

I can only sigh.

When I first heard it on TV too, I could only sigh. Not surprised, I have heard him speak before. There are many like him.

Me I get vision for my country future o , so make we join hand.

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