AFRICANS MUST EMBRACE THE SCIENTIFIC CULTURE OR REMAIN BACKWARD
Ozodi Thomas Osuji
If you see contemporary Africans what strikes you is that they are a confused people. They are confused because in their minds are two competing cultures, their past African cultures, and the modern scientific culture (which, in their confusion, they equate with European culture…scientific culture is different from European culture; science belongs to all human beings, not to a specific group of human beings).
In the early twentieth century, W.E.B. Dubois wrote a book called “The Souls of Black folk”. in it, among other ideas, he made the argument that the Negro’s soul (mind) is torn between his Africanness and his desire to be American (to embrace white folk’s culture). He was correct; what he said is like what I am talking about except that to me white American culture is barbaric and I have no use for it; I certainly do not wish to be like white Americans; nor do I want to be like Europeans; what attracts me is science, currently associated with Europe and North America; that science competes with my inherited African culture. My internal conflict is between science and my African unscientific heritage. This cognitive dissonance is resolved in favor of science.
To be part of African culture or to be part of Scientific culture is the question that all Africans must answer; until Africans decisively embrace the scientific culture it is obvious that they are going nowhere and will remain backward and the laughingstock of the rest of the world.
The past, culture, is used to color the present and distort the present; what needs to be realized is that the past (culture) is over and that folks need to live in the present.
Culture is a way every human group gradually found a means of coping with the exigencies of their land, climate, and world. It is not supposed to be stagnant and static; it is supposed to be dynamic, changing as new and better information comes to a people. But what has happened in Africa is that foolish pride and vanity has led Africans to reify and deify their primitive cultures; they now celebrate them as if there is good in them.
Efiks and Igbos used to throw twin babies away, and throw away children born with assorted disabilities; were those civilized? It took Christian missionaries to stop such dreadful practices. And they still have more monstrous practices, such as believing in witches (and stoning such unfortunate women to death), sacrificing people for money (sacrifices that do not yield the desired results; only hard working and innovative thinking and behavior will give you money not sacrificing people to nonexistent gods).
The scientific present does not belong to Europe, America, or Asia but to all humankind. The most realistic present culture is the scientific culture, it is the culture that began when in 1543 Nicolas Copernicus and in 1610 Galileo Galilei overthrew Ptolemy’s geocentric view that the earth is the center of the universe and replaced it with their heliocentric view of the sun being the center of our solar system (the sun is not the center of the universe, it is an insignificant, medium sized star in a goldilocks part of the Milky Way Galaxy where it is neither too hot nor too cold hence life exists on one of its nine planets, earth).
Science is not a thing; it is a methodological approach to phenomena; it is an attempt to observe the world and the universe as they are and only, as Francis Bacon, John Locke and David Hume insisted, accepting observations that can be verified, and preferably observations that can be experimented on in laboratories and verified, and discarding those that cannot be verified (Karl Popper added the idea of falsifiability as an additional criterion for accepting an idea as scientific).
Science is dealing with the universe as it is, now, not as one’s people said that it was in the past or as one wants it to be in the present.
What you and I think of the world is irrelevant, what is relevant is what we all can see, document, and verify as, in fact, there and as how the universe works.
Talking about Egypt is not going to help you because Egyptians were primitive. See, they mummified their dead pharaohs with the hope that they would live forever in body, whereas, in fact, science tells us that the human body is composed of sixty four elements, primarily carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, sodium, phosphor and so on; those elements are held together by chemical bonds and when we die they decay and return to the particles of the atoms that they are composed of: electrons, protons, neutrons and quarks, and over time those decay to photons, light.
Those foolish mummies that primitive Egyptians tried to preserve must decay back to light because the entire universe came from the light that came out of nowhere and nothingness, 13.8 billion years ago, during the Big Bang.
Science studies things as they are and devises technology to manipulate their laws and live well instead of talking rubbish about past cultures, as if we do not know that most human cultures, until the twentieth century, were primitive and did not know the difference between bacteria, virus, and fungi and certainly did not understand the physical universe of space, time and matter and, instead, worshipped stars and moons as gods.
People all over the world are amused by Africans talk about their culture, for, in fact, all other people know that African cultures, relative to other people’s cultures, are more primitive. Europe was also primitive, but science is increasingly permeating its culture; ten percent of Europeans are operating with the scientific paradigm and the rest 90 percent live in their primitive past European culture; those ten percent are responsible for most of all that is good in the extant world. We must discard the nonsense of multiculturalism and embrace scientific culture because it is universal and applies everywhere on planet earth and to most of the visible universe.
Africa must embrace the scientific culture (study the writings of Francis Bacon, John Locke, George Berkeley, David Hume, Karl Popper, and other English men who insisted on the scientific method and discarding everything that is not science, including religion and so-called past culture).
Logical positivism, aka empiricism is the way to the best in the modern world, not harping on primitive cultures. And know-nothing liberal Western anthropologists humor Africans by encouraging them to keep embracing their so-called past culture instead of dumping them and embracing the scientific method. These liberal Westerners know that as long as Africans look to the past, not the present and future, they will remain irrelevant in the world of science, technology and everything that the extant world values.
If one accepts conspiracy theories, one can say that Western Liberal academics who tell Africans to keep on emphasizing their past cultures are paid by the Machiavellian capitalist class that rule the West to help keep Africa backward and shiftless, to keep Africans a beggar people that always look to the white man to give them economic handouts or else they starve to death.
Africans cling to what they call their cultures out of pride not because those are useful. You cannot eat pride and vanity; you can survive by eating what modern science and technology enables you to produce.
Africans must embrace science in every sphere of their lives, including in the way they talk (they talk too loudly as if there is nothing in their heads), and in their manner of dressing. They must wear clothes that adapt to laboratories, factories and libraries and modern work offices, and that is something like Western business suites not the agbada that Nigerians wear; agbada contributes to Nigerians unproductivity and their tendency to corruption; the several yards of clothing used to sow one agbada cost a lot of money, money that could be used to provide other people with simple clothes.
Folks wearing agbada keep rearranging them on their bodies, most of the time, and have no time to work. Just imagine folks in a laboratory wearing agbada, they would be dragging test tubes with chemical mixtures in them down and spilling the chemicals all over the place.
Look, the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans and other Asians used to have elaborate attire but realizing that those are a handicap to productivity in the modern world they discarded them in favor of Western work clothing, Africans must do so.
The agbada they call their national attire was actually copied from Middle Ages Feudal Arabs; what Ijaw and Igbo people call their national attire, the jumper they wear over Western pants, was copied from their encounter with the Portuguese in the sixteenth century.
If you are going to copy other people’s clothing style, then copy the ones most amenable to worker productivity in our industrial age.
Africans must discard the dysfunctional aspects of their culture and embrace whatever is adaptive to science and technology.
One sees Nigerians in juju masquerades, what their primitive people used to scare people into obeying the norms, mores, rules, and laws of their lands and if they did not the gods supposedly in those masquerades killed them; now, every child knows that the masquerades are people not gods so stop fooling yourself with that rubbish or religious beliefs that worship nonexistent gods.
If you must have religion then accept Christianity not because it is true but because, as Machiavelli said (in his seminal book, The Prince), religion is a means of unifying the people and giving them belief that there is meaning and purpose in their lives, when, in fact, pure reason cannot see those.
Africans must begin doing everything with the parameters of science and stop kidding themselves with their past cultures because those cultures are antithetical to the requirements of the scientific and technological world, we live in.
Chancellor Williams, Chiekh Anta Diop and Molefe Asante talked Afrocentrism, about the need to return to Egyptian culture, which they confuse as African, but that culture is not going to help Africa compete in the modern world of science and technology.
Please do not talk about self-hatred, hatred of one’s people and their cultures; love for one’s self and for one’s people is love for their truth not the nonsense they call their cultures. I do not identify with so-called Western culture because it, too, is primitive; I identify with the scientific method because it only has the potential of liberating humanity from ignorance and giving all human beings abundant living. African cultures give Africans poverty; scientific culture will give Africans material abundance.
The beauty of science is that its findings, principles, and if you like, laws, are applicable everywhere on planet earth and even in the entire universe. Water is composed of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen; that is the same all over the world and all over the known universe.
Each atom is composed of electrons and a nucleus that has protons and neutrons in it. Neutrons and protons have quarks in them.
The various elements are differentiated from each other by the number or electrons, protons, and neutrons in each of them; hydrogen having one electron and one proton, helium having two electrons, two protons and two neutrons…until you get to the heaviest element, uranium with ninety-two electrons, ninety-two protons and one hundred and forty-six neutrons.
Elements combine into molecules in the same way by binding their outer electron shells. Science is universal in nature and is not bound by culture.
In the olden days folks were separated from each other and developed particularistic approaches to phenomena, to their world that are not applicable to other parts of the world. Now we can use science to find what works all over the world.
Physics, chemistry, biology, geology, astrophysics, astronomy etc. are the same all over the world. We can figure out how to raise healthy children, through developmental psychology, which are applicable to all over the world and stop the nonsense of trying to rationalize primitive behaviors by saying that our cultures approve them.
Reason and science now rule the world not defensiveness towards one’s so-called culture; we must stop emphasizing diverse cultures, culture relativism and multiculturalism; we need to stress only one universal culture, the scientific culture.
Nicolas Copernicus, Dē revolutionibus orbium coelestium.
Galileo Galilei, The Starry Messenger (1610; in Latin: Sidereus Nuncius).
Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematica.
Francis Bacon, Novum Organum (The New Organon).
John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.
George Berkeley, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.
David Hume, 1739–1740. A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to introduce the experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects.
Nicola Machiavelli, The Prince.
Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery.
Jean Jacque Rousseau, Social Contract.
Emile Durkheim, The Rules of Sociological Method.
Auguste Comte, The Positive Philosophy.
Saint Simon, Le Politique.
Read any modern college textbook on physics, chemistry, biology, astrophysics, geology and the other physical sciences. In this brief essay, I am concerned not with the work of actual science itself but the scientific method, what philosophers call the philosophy of science, epistemology, ontology, and metaphysics (what is knowledge versus opinion; how do we ascertain what is knowledge as opposed to mere opinion?). I am not interested in nationalistic and patriotic writings, such as what Chancellor Williams, Cheikh Anta Diop, Walter Rodney, Chimwenze, and Molefe Asante wrote; those wrote what gave black folks, folks told by slavery and colonialism, neocolonialism and racism that Africans are an inferior people, some good self-esteem but did not address the issue of what is real knowledge; political tracks are not exercise in epistemological philosophy. Regarding human worth, all human beings, biological science has demonstrated, are the same and originated in Africa. I do not have to take issue with Arthur Jensen, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray and their racist bandwagon, for not one of them is slightly intelligent; they do not know what intelligence is, noise making is not knowledge.
Ozodi Thomas Osuji
January 18, 2023
Dr Osuji can be reached at: email@example.com