On LinkedIn, I read a piece on the need for research. It is a great call: “So staying fresh demands research as the world we are in revolves on an axis of change.”
Absolutely, research is the gun powder upon which empires are built. Show me a nation that does research, and I would show you a prosperous nation. From Ancient Egypt when the best astrologers were Egyptians through Nebuchadnezzar Babylon to Caesar Rome, from Industrial Revolution (England) to American Empire, one thing has defined the world: Research and accumulation of knowledge.
If you check some of these prosperous nations, they had one thing in common: at each point, they had the best research centers (universities or whatever they were called then). In the time of Moses, Egypt was the finest place to study. Today, America leads. Oxford and Cambridge universities were unrivaled during the industrial revolution. Read The Mines of Knowledge where I explained these elements deeper.
During the golden era of Egypt when Pharaohs controlled some of the best thinkers, Egypt ruled the world. In short, when Moses appeared before the Israelites, according to Bible and Torah, they marveled that he had studied under the Pharaohs. Recall Joseph, son of Jacob, who interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh. He saved the world from famines as Egypt was the only country that stored grains, during abundance, for the famine period. The best thinkers, then, lived in Egypt.
The best moment of Greece was the era of unprecedented knowledge generation. The finest philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle lived therein. They had their moments. Greece blossomed and the world was on the feet of the Greeks. Take a big example: When the world was debating the material component of the universe, it was like a family affair in Greece; Thales said water, Heraclitus said fire, Pythagoras said numbers, etc. The world just watched them because the best ideas were emanating from Greece. Hipparchus had perfected Trigonometry in Greece and Euclid of Alexandria, a Greek mathematician, had invented Geometry. They owned knowledge and helped to shape the designs of some of the best ports off the coast of the Mediterranean.
When General Titus and Vespasian destroyed Jerusalem and the Ark of God, circa AD 67 – 70, the Romans were the best fighters. They had the best knowledge and the best technologies. They destroyed the Temple rebuilt by Nehemiah circa 408 BC and made Jerusalem desolate (the temple was originally built by Solomon in 10th century BC),. They dominated the world and imposed their vision of the world, just as America is doing today. No one could challenge Rome because Rome is power. From Apostle James, the brother of Jesus and the first Bishop of Jerusalem (who was martyred in AD 69) to Bishop Polycarp, through Apostle Peter, Rome controlled some of the best thought-leaders. By the time Apostle Peter was crucified upside down, the finest lawyers, philosophers were under the control of Rome. Subsequently, Catholicism was formed, and Vatican was consecrated as the Holiest spot on earth and existed undisputed before the birth of Prophet Mohammed (born 570 AD), the Father of Islam.
Without deepening our capacity to create new knowledge, we would remain on stasis. Nigeria is recording high infant mortality rate. The solution? Research. From road construction (yes, we need to make better durable roads) to agriculture, if we do not discover, we would not advance.
The best part of America is not the hellfire bombs, but the fact that it has the finest universities on earth. That process renews America, making it possible that it can grow and renew itself as markets change. If you take off the universities, the power of Pentagon would go.
Africa is an inventive society – which means we have just ideas but we never innovate on them to create products and services which can benefit societies. If you visit our universities, most professors would tell you that they have ideas on how to fix infant mortality. Unfortunately, it is just ideas, no innovation.
With great research, you move from invention to innovation. We largely stop at invention and that is the problem. Without research, nations have no prosperity. That is a message for Africa.