“There is a lot to be said for intellectual integrity.”
Intellectuals, along with others, are the life and essence of any civilization. They “give advice to humanity on how to conduct its affairs.” A society, and indeed, any society without a bourgeoning class of intellectuals cannot truly flourish. Such a society may stagnate, disintegrate or die. According to Paul Johnson, “the rise of the secular intellectual has been a key factor in shaping the modern world…men arose to assert that they could diagnose the ills of society and cure them with their own unaided intellects: more, that they could devise formulae whereby not merely the structure of society but the fundamental habits of human beings could be transformed for the better.”
The western world is never short of intellectuals and gadflies; and neither was
Considering the state of affairs in today’s
In yesteryears, Nigerians were known the world over — not for their alleged duplicity, but for their brilliance and humanity. Nigerians were known in high places for their enviable achievements. From NASA to
In the end, some of our best and brightest left in search of stability and greener pastures. Who replaced most of our national treasures? The scum of the earth. The third-rate. The mediocre. The traders. The 419ers. The Yahoo-yahoo boys. Political prostitutes and pretenders. The Godfathers. The Ghana-must-Go specialists. Suddenly — suddenly — the distasteful and impermissible became permissible and sacred. It became ok to steal. It became acceptable to be a professional sycophant. It became fashionable to be an illiterate in a literate world. It became fashionable to look down on great minds and great accomplishments. And so it is that street urchins have now become the bosses, the oga patapatas.
It is sad; sad and disgraceful that the vast majority of Nigerians living today does not know the person or the works of people like Ayodele Awojobi, Bala Usman, Ishola Oshobu, Cornelius Ubani, Dr. Segun Oshoba, Ola Oni, Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, Bode Onimode, Biodun Jaiyefo, Segun Okeowo, Bala Mohammed, Sam Amuka, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and others. But for such men and women,
According to Mr. Sonala Olumhense, himself a member of the great-generation, “the flip side of the coin — the “absence of intellectualism” — is the “presence of materialism” and the pursuit of the inconsequential. Insignificance, decadence and barbarism! That is where we are today: the willful pursuit of the insignificant, materialism and stupidities. We honor men and women lacking foresight and brilliance of mind and good character. We look up to, prostrate and genuflect before men and women with inferior sensibility. Such pursuit diminishes the glory and prosperity of the country. Every great nation or at least, nations of any consequence all have men and women at the vanguard of knowledge and intellectualism. They stir things up. They make rulers uncomfortable. They nudge us to greater heights. Why then is the government uncomfortable with men and women?
Radicals, leftists, troublemakers, intellectuals, and the “crazies” are the salt and honey of any nation. We must allow such minds breathing space, let them be. They think for us. They show us in bright and favorable light. And they act as our nation’s conscience. As a consequence of our contempt and apathy towards our intellectuals and gadflies, we are gradually becoming an empty and hollow nation.
It is painful, painful and sad to walk into some enclaves in this and other countries only to find the “greatest Nigerians” toiling for nothing — when they should have been toiling for their motherland. But then, what are they to do if their country does not want them? Well, any country that does not revere and or want its intellectuals is an imprudent country.