October 18, 2016 by South Africa   Opinion  

Last week a rather embarrassing video went viral here in South Africa.

Oh dear... Normally I try to avoid crazy people, but hey, I've got a few minutes to kill Winking smile

Wow... where to start?

Lets provide a little bit of context (if you're unfamiliar with the current state of affairs in South Africa).

Firstly, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness report, South Africa is dead last among their list of 140 countries in terms of quality of math and science education.

Secondly, the lady in the clip (apparently a student at UCT - currently ranked the best university in the country, in the land of the blind, the one eye..), isn't even a student at the science faculty.

So its fair to assume that she is in no real position to re-think, scratch out, restart or demand anything from the scientific community.

But lets give her the benefit of the doubt (she might be a genius for all we know) and examine some of her brilliant statements.

Science a product of western modernity.

Hmmm, wow, that is a bit of a slap in the face of every non-westerner that contributed / contributes to science. It is a global human endeavour, ever evolving / growing sum of our knowledge (over the millennia) - much older than the western world itself.

If you're blaming "the white man" for inventing science, you are giving credit where credit is NOT due.

George W Carver
1861(est) - 1943

Botanist and inventor.
Born into slavery

Percy Julian
1899 - 1975

Research chemist and a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants.

George E Alcorn
1940 - present

Pioneer physicist and inventor who worked primarily for IBM and NASA.

Mae Jemison
1956 - present

Engineer, physician and NASA astronaut

J Ernest Wilkins Jr
1923 - 2011

Nuclear scientist, mechanical engineer and mathematician.

Lloyd Hall
1894 - 1971

Chemist, who contributed to the science of food preservation.

George Carruthers
1939 - present

Inventor, physicist, and space scientist.

Walter McAfee

Scientist and astronomer.


Western knowledge is pathetic.

I am going to "fix" this statement a bit, what is referred to as "western knowledge" is in fact, the sum of human knowledge across all civilizations.

Is human knowledge pathetic? Sure, there is a lot of things we don't know yet, a lot of things we get wrong.

It kinda reminds me of the scene below from Monty Python's Life of Brian - what have the romans ever done for us?

All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?

Equally we can ask the same thing about Science, what have science ever done for us?

An incredibly stupid question - Agriculture, medicine, physics, mathematics, astronomy just to name a few.

. for the first time in the history of the planet, a species has the technology to prevent its own extinction - Armageddon (1998)

I do however think that her reasoning behind why she thinks it is pathetic is pathetic, which can be seen in the following quote.

Through black magic, able to send lightning to strike someone, how do you explain
that scientifically?

Well, lets setup an environment where we can test this assertion? Simply making a bold claim without meeting your burden of proof? Now THAT is pathetic.

To quote the late and brilliant Christopher Hitchens - "That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."

Knowledge produced by us.. Restart science from an African perspective

This is very counterproductive, we are standing on the shoulders of giants, adding to the knowledge of those that came before us, without our forefathers progress would have been impossible.

Why would we want to isolate ourselves from the rest of humanity like this?

I can't even start to think how one would practically go about achieving something like this?

Perhaps we need to send a bunch of four year olds to an abandoned planet and leave them to reinvent the wheel from an African perspective? Surely an African wheel would still be round?

Newton saw an apple fall and out of nowhere decided gravity existed.

I don't believe she is questioning the validity of the theory of gravity, in fact, I believe if a black man came up with this theory instead, she wouldn't have questioned it - to be blunt, her only REAL issue is with white heterosexual males (She is nothing more than a racist hiding behind pseudo intellectualism).

But then again, her hatred goes so far, she might reject the theory of gravity even if a black man came up with it first, because in her opinion it would merely be a product of his "colonized mind".

In all seriousness

As a South African I am embarrassed by a lot of things, I am embarrassed about apartheid, our failed education system, our openly criminal president, the fact that nothing is being done about his multitude of transgressions, in fact, every time any state official opens their mouths, I am embarrassed.

Honestly, at first I felt that UCT needed to take legal action against this woman for slandering their name like this.

But I live in a country where we think that we've got the moral high ground (or perhaps more a case of not wanting to be told what to do?) in letting war criminals like Omar al-Bashir freely traverse our borders. While in the same breath denying the Dalai Lama a visa (double standards).

What hope is there really for "intellectual" justice? If we can't even get the obvious things right?

Final word

Imagine if we spent less time debating frivolous and pointless topics like this and more time on getting rid of the fat cats in government, busy bleeding this country dry?

Imagine if we spent less time taking down statues and more time erecting new ones?

Perhaps you could have had your African Renaissance by now.

Lets be honest though, with the amount of isolation they desire, I don't think decolonization of the mind is the problem here, I think they're trapped in an apartheid mind set instead (your science, my science, whites only sciences, blacks only science, what happened to OUR science?).

Perhaps instead of decolonizing your mind rather "unapartheid" your mind instead Winking smile

Additional Reading

SA now siding with murderers and dictators: DA
(WEF) Global Competitiveness report - South Africa
Famous Black Scientists

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