By Timothy Kalyegira
KAMPALA — Last week after the publication of the 2019 Ugandan O’Level exam results, I wrote a brief piece here stating why these set-piece national exams do not matter.
I said I would explain why in a follow-up piece, using the American online retailer Amazon as a case study.
There is a reason why we have had thousands upon thousands of ace UNEB candidates, why tens of thousands graduate from our universities every year, why some parents enroll their children in expensive international schools in Kampala, Nairobi or Johannesburg — but Uganda remains a weak, low-productivity, donor-dependent country.
This is why since last year, I have been suggesting a shortcut to Africa’s misery, which is a European re-colonisation of this continent of slow-minded people.
On May 14, 2017, I wrote a long piece explaining the three levels of intelligence or ability required to run a modern nation-state.
You can search for it, but for now I will reproduce an abridged excerpt from the “level 3” intellect, ability or knowledge:
“THE THIRD QUESTION — Inner mental resources
In the third category, there are far fewer people still. This is the category that is virtually non-existent in Uganda and Africa.
[This] third level requires much more than just knowledge, work experience or academic qualifications.
It requires inner resources. Plenty of them.
It requires a person to be MADE OF METAL.
To turn a city around, to build a country, to start a company that goes on to become international, to start a brand of consumer product like Coca-Cola or Colgate toothpaste and it ends up in most homes in most countries in the world, requires complex, high-energy personality.
One needs enormous mental drive. Just the thought of the task ahead is enough to overwhelm most people.
At this stage of large-scale national and international projects, even scoring AAAA at A’Level or earning a first class degree or a masters at university is no longer sufficient.
That might explain why after we see them smiling on the front pages of newspapers after topping the UNEB exams, we no longer hear of most of these UNEB stars after they complete university.
This third category is all about application — applied knowledge and applied effort, and those two going together.
How does one start to modernise Bwaise or sort out the chaos in Ndeeba? Whom do you employ? What company does the work and using what machinery?
And where do you find the contractor you need? Do you advertise for them or simply select a reputable one?
Do you raze the whole place to the ground and start afresh or do you create new buildings next to old buildings? Do you build high-rise buildings or bungalow estates?
Do you evict all residents of the slum, rebuild it, and return them later or do you remake the slum into a high-end residential area and find its former residents affordable housing elsewhere?
Do you install traffic lights or build a commuter train system? Which do you do first, drain the flooded water or repair the road?
If you have to build a bridge across a lake or river in a remote and hilly African country, how and where do you physically start?
That level of advanced planning, problem-solving, step-by-step thought, consulting with your team, multi-tasking, balancing layer upon layer of complex information and the demanding realities of managing both the broad strategic overview and the micro everyday detail, is not one for the ordinary person or ordinary country.
It requires much more of us than just good education. It requires inner strengths that very few of us have.
Building an advanced, complex society requires certain cultural values, a certain intellectual orientation, huge amounts of mental drive and physical energy, good technical information, discipline, planning, motivation, persistence and an ability to clearly see in one’s mind what is not yet visible on the ground.
So far, very little in our culture, upbringing, education, political organisation, social relationships and temperament has prepared us for this level of complexity.
Even if we had the best of free and fair elections, presidential age and term limits, a small parliament, an independent media and so on, we would still need World Bank help or Chinese companies to build our dams.
That’s why I believe success for the individual and society depends on IQ, temperament and mental concentration.
Our present exam system, collective societal mindset and our present culture don’t address this third category.
I’m not even sure formal education by itself can address these third question matters.”
That was the part, I argued, is what is required to develop and transform a country.
So before I give the Amazon case study, you can read through the above excerpt.
People who argue that they did well at national exams and have good university degrees but were frustrated by the government or the society and so moved to Canada, Australia or Sweden do not understand this level 3.
Any averagely-educated or even bright AAA exam student can work in the World Bank, UN, MTN or wherever. Systems are in place, the pay is good.
When I keep referring to Africa’s elite A-class being equivalent to Europe’s C-class, what I mean is that the C-class is the “average man”, is the civil servant, the person you bump into at a shopping mall in town, the average white-collar worker.
The C-class works in large companies, organisations or government bureaucracies.
The A-class CREATES them.
With a good engineering or marketing degree, one can work in MTN or Coca-Cola. That’s the C-class.
It takes the A-class to create an MTN or Facebook.
Anyone with a fair degree in medicine, social work, accounts or agriculture can find a job in Canada or Australia.
It takes the A-class to CREATE a Canada or Australia.
We shall discuss Amazon in part 3 next time.
If you tend to tolerate spelling errors, if in this digital era video, graphics or photo quality don’t bother you, if you use photos and videos online without seeking permission from the owner or indicating a link to the source, then you are not A-class.
If you tend to argue that the details don’t matter “as long as we understand the message”, you are not A-class.
If there is in you an attitude that argues that certain things don’t matter, if the “don’t matter” or “doesn’t matter” attitude exists in you, then you are not A-class.
I’ll show you why this is so, using the Amazon example and why over the last 25 years of the Internet, digital tech and social media revolution, there is practically no African company in the picture.
Source: Off Timothy Kalyegira’s Facebook page