Human Development: A Recycled View

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By Kelechi Ibekwe

The greatest asset a society can possess is its people. For no resource is truly greater than a nation’s human resource. Human development is essential, not only for a nation’s survival but for its growth. An abundance of natural resources might mask problems for a while and even give a semblance of growth, but as with all things, the truth eventually finds its rhythm.

Development refers to the act of growth, maturity, evolution of an individual or a society from a primitive point to a less primitive point.

Human development in social terms is the process by which the mental awareness, the thought capacity, and the richness of human life is achieved. However, I do not speak in social terms as human development is a very broad topic which cuts across social, cultural, political and economic aspects. I speak in economic terms, although one can hardly extricate one from the others.

Economic development

Development in Nigeria and in Africa as a whole, for the greater part of the 20th century was virtually non-existent due to the several crises which occurred. A period of recovery and reinvention is required to halt the retrogression and massive human development to move development from the state of inertia to a forward march. Below, I shall highlight some aspects that need to be treated for the advancement of society to occur.

Corruption

By definition, corruption is the use of bestowed authority for personal gain. Political corruption is the use of instituted government authority for private gain. In Nigerian society, the term corruption is a word often used, misrepresented and generally misunderstood. To the uninformed poor Nigerian, corruption is for the affluent and a means for individuals who may or may not be in government to fund ostentatious lifestyles. To the Nigerian middle class, the corrupt are those who are in government who lead affluent lifestyles. To Nigeria’s affluent, the corrupt are those in government.

There is no proper definition for corruption in the Nigerian context and when something is ill defined, it cannot be stopped as its symptoms cannot be properly diagnosed.

Corruption has become part of the thread of the fabric of Nigerian life. It has seeped down to every nook and cranny of society and the level of impunity has caused this dangerous trait to thrive. It has reached a point where the man or woman who while in power, is disinclined to graft and is seen as a fool by all. The lack of institutions has made checking corruption an impossible task.

A solution to this problem is in the creation of institutions independent of political powers with specific roles for each institution acting as checks and balances for themselves. Each institution’s activities should overlap, and require approval from rival institutions so as to prevent recklessness. This is to prevent ascribing unnecessary power to a single institution which could easily be turned into an attack dog of whichever government that funds it.

Education

A country is much like an organization. People need to be educated properly to carry out their individual and collective roles in that organization. The average level of organization in a country determines how forward-thinking that country is going to be. Education raises the awareness of the individual in the society and determines to a large extent the leadership the citizens choose and receive. Bad leadership is almost always characterized by corruption, brain drains and impunity while good leadership is always characterized by human development.

I am a strong proponent of the Reform without Rancor policy which is practised in Canada. It involves large scale educational reform. A system that ensures that the country’s worst schools are as good as its best thereby giving access to a larger pool of a nation’s best and brightest who in return would drive social reform.

The degree threshold for educators should be raised, and schools free of government control should be encouraged in an unwilling government environment.

Technology

In the past, before the advent of the printing press, when knowledge was mostly oral based and in the possession of a selected few, there was limited access to information. With the aid of technological advancements, the printing press was invented and that knowledge which was in the hands of a few became more accessible to a greater number of people. The internet today, has made it possible for anyone, anywhere in the world at any time to have access to vast and incredible amounts of information. Information helps bridge the gap from uneducated and underdeveloped societies to problem solving oriented and developed societies.

The perception of technology as a threat instead of embracing it, needs to be eroded as it has become an important part of daily life.

Finally, human development in its most basic terms can be classified into three wants. They are:-

  • Adequate provisioning for basic human needs of food, shelter, clothing.
  • According to Sen’s conception of development, the substantive freedoms a person needs to lead “… the kind of life he or she enjoys”. These are health, education, knowledge and skills.
  • An enabling environment for people to apply their acquired skills, individually and societally. The factors of such an environment include freedom, stability, and a human rights respecting culture.

Once these features are in place in society, there will be progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing

 

If the beginning of wisdom is in realising that one knows nothing, then the beginning of understanding is in realising that all things exist in accord with a single truth:

Large things are made of Smaller things” – Jim Butcher

How difficult is writing?

I sit on my sofa watching one of my favourite shows pondering this question. I have told myself to give some thought to writing and after several seconds of convincing myself of my ‘natural prowess’, I have come to an agreement with myself to add it to my repertoire. I tell myself once the show is over, I’ll put my ‘literary genius’ to the task. I am still hooked to the show when I’m struck with some questions. What in the world could I possibly write about? Do I write in the Deep Introspective? General collective? Fantasy? What? I start thinking. Could the reason for this indecision be the famous writer’s block I have oft heard about? Is this the terror inspiring Davy Jones locker of an active mind? Will I start an alcohol habit as most writers do to overcome this? Am I Irish enough? Will I ever catch leprechaun? Leprechaun? What does leprechaun even have to do with what I’m talking about? I must be in ‘the zone’ I tell myself. One might think I am an established writer since I am juggling thoughts on areas to focus on. No. I am a guy watching a show on the discrepancies of the most interesting group of American people; drunk Americans. Preference. Taste. ‘Tomayto Tomahto’. Semantics.
Now, I am right brain dominant. What does this mean? Can I start a sentence with ‘Now’? Of course, it’s all writing is it not?Staying on topic, my right brain dominance means I should tend towards the creative thought process and not the analytical. I should be better at writing a fantasy genre based novel just because of this simple fact. The brain doesn’t always agree with its house. The very idea of imaginative writing of the imaginary doesn’t chime with me. In fact, I find it distasteful.  I absolutely abhor it. Now don’t get me wrong, I love reading fantasy based books on Mages, Elementals, and Scientific magic in general. ‘Scientific magic’ – contradiction? I think not. Generally, magic that requires physics, calculations and the likes. I’m deviating from the point, but this is still writing if I’m not wrong? Hear Hear!

There’s a car chase going on right now on my telly, I am enthralled ergo I have lost my train of thought. Damn, I’m writing here I tell myself. I should not get carried away. I cuss in a steady stream of expletives for a few seconds. I give myself mental slaps to get my head back in the game. It is a battle I am clearly losing as my brain is in cahoots with my show. I am just a guest in my own head. No need to test my mental acuity, I am not lacking in brain power. Some things just take precedence over others. I’ll be back in some seconds I say.

Seconds elapse into minutes, minutes likewise into an hour, my show is long over, so I have switched my attention back to a novel I started reading earlier titled – Give Death a Chance by Alan Goldsher. While reading I come across a particularly lovely quote and suddenly I’m motivated, captivated, encapsulated; any word you can think up that relates to my situation. Surely I can write a book on quotes I tell myself. It would be wonderful I tell myself. I’ll have a series of best sellers, book signings, a few Pulitzers, and if I’m lucky a Nobel Prize. At this point I’m shaking my head at my recent foray into active daydream service. Pulitzers? That’s for journalistic archetypes, is it not? I ask myself. Surely I have no love for journalistic writing but I love awards. Couldn’t hurt to try I tell myself. This train of thought arises from one idea: Write a book on quotes. When did Pulitzers come into play? I dream a lot let’s not forget that. It’s one of the perks of being a right brain dominant wallflower. I remember feeling the same way when I read a book titled ‘The 48 laws of Power’ some years back. The biblical Joseph would be proud. I was Batman after reading this book – careful, cold, calculating. There was this delusion that came with reading and absorbing the concepts wholeheartedly. I felt like Martin Luther King jr., Gandhi, and John F. Kennedy at the same time. I avidly recall telling myself to act a certain way, talk a certain way and react a certain way to situations around me and if I did these things right, I would be a very powerful individual. Apologies, I’m digressing again.

The question still remains, ‘How difficult is writing?’ It occurs to me, I have not made any significant progress in answering this question since I started. I haven’t even come up with a fancy metonym for my ramblings. Which is more important? Title or content? I should not worry of course, for I am Mr. Pulitzer or Sun Tzu or even a modern day Dostoyevsky as my more adept readers would call me. Creative indeed. At this point I’m listening to Hurt by Johnny Cash interspersed with Sound of silence by Simon and Garfunkel. Yes, I’m of the old school. I’m feeling the depth of these lyrics, so my writing style is visibly changing. Writing style? Eureka! First foray into writing of any kind and I have developed a writing style. Sarcasm is sweetest in soliloquy. Staying on the topic,

Drops of ink are shaped into letters, letters form words, words form sentences, and sentences combine to express thought. So it is with mankind.”

These words, easily expressed, define writing succinctly. So, what exactly makes writing so difficult? Am I allowed to start a sentence with ‘so’? Damn right I am. It’s my drop of ink. Writing is a collection of seeming small thoughts concatenating to form a larger body in ink. Well, not necessarily ink but you get the point. Why exactly is it difficult for one to write if it’s just a visual interpretation of what we think? Most people waltz through life and never realize they have goldmines as minds. Why? Why do they never realize this? As the saying goes, Significance is cumulative – but not always obvious. You might have a great mind with limitless potential, but as long as you can’t interprete your thoughts into action, be it verbal or otherwise, it will always be potential. Potential never fulfilled, always remains potential. People that know they have this potential have an immense amount of work to do lest they are tagged as underachievers. The greater the intelligence, the greater the pressure to succeed.

That you have been given a great intellect is not something to be proud of; it is a burden to bear. It is muscle to be used in lifting greater weights than others can lift.

The mind’s eye can see all at once, but only focus on one visual expression at a time. Instinct is the teacher to consciousness as experience is the teacher to the mind. Experience teaches you trust your instinct.

I told myself I wouldn’t exceed a thousand words, but we don’t always get what we want. I leave you here, none the wiser, obviously without an answer to the question but I leave you having gained an immeasurable experience in writing and how difficult it truly is.

Be they stone, living flesh, or rolling sea; be they idle times or events of world-shattering   proportion, market days, or desperate battles, to this law, all things hold:

Large things are made from small things.”  –  Jim Butcher.

Written by Kelechi Ibekwe