This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


(From 2007)

Ever heard of Mubarak Muhammad Abdullahi? No? He's a 24 year old physics undergraduate from Kano, Nigeria.

So what, you ask?

Mr Abdullahi is a big fan of action movies and a keen student of helicopter aerobatics in those action movies. And so what's such a big deal about that? There must be hundreds like him right here on this website.

Mr Abdullahi is not your typical 24 year old college student and action movie buff. Mr Abdullahi didn't just watch helicopters flying around on the TV screen - he went ahead and built his own. He used aluminum scrap, seats from a  Toyota, the engine of a Honda Civic, and parts cannibalised from a crashed Boeing 747. He financed it himself with money earned from repairing computers and mobile phones. It even flies.

Way to go.

Think about it - a young man collecting scrap metal, sundry spare parts, etc, etc, and knocking together a helicopter that - for all its deficiencies - at least can get off the ground each time its maker wants it to.

That isn't a joke, is it now.

Typically, for a "Third World" (that phrase again) nation, Mr Abdullahi has got no kind of recognition, no help whatsoever, for his feat. Nor will he - this sort of thing is hardly unique to Nigeria. India, for example, is chock-a-block with unsung inventors whose eco-friendly, cheap creations are either overlooked or actually punished  - like a farmer some years ago who knocked together a three wheeled, fuel-efficient, mini-tractor. He was, if I'm not mistaken, penalised for creating a non-authorised vehicle. I don't know what happened to the tractor.

No wonder all the talent flees overseas as fast as it can. The Bush regime for one would be crippled without the efforts of scientists from the same "Third World".

Now of course I am not suggesting Mr Abdullahi and his fellow amateur inventors can take over the market with their hand-built products. However, the talent is there, brimming over, and ignoring it is just going to ruin it and drive it underground. It's a classic reason why we remain underdeveloped.

I hope now that the world has finally heard of Mr Abdullahi, he gets some kind of recognition, and others like him also get their due. I hope so, but I'm not hopeful - if you get what I mean.

But then again, this bit of news came out at a most apposite time. It's the classic riposte to James Watson of DNA fame, who recently claimed that blacks were less intelligent than whites.

Watson said 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”. That's the usual excuse advanced by those Westerners who love to pass off the results of centuries of colonial exploitation and artificial borders as the inherent traits of the black African.

It's up to Africans like Mr Abdullahi to prove him wrong. 

No comments:

Post a Comment