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Published On: Mon, Oct 20th, 2014

The making of great thinkers of our time

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By Mulikat Etudaiye

In history, the great thinkers and philosophers of all time did not hold on to title-philia. I see it as their good understanding and manifestation of what learning entails— the more you learn the more humble you declare yourself. Scholars who establish themselves beyond their mere so called disciplines, they are in multidisciplinary, and they hardly regard a title or any specialized academic regalia as anything. The example of Isaac Newton himself, William Shakespeare, Ibn Khaldun, Raze aka ar-Razi. In Nigeria we have the likes of Yusuf Bala Usman (who was comfortable with only ‘Dr-title’ to refer to his hot PhD, despite his academic outstanding excellence. M. M. Yusuf and Ibrahim Mu’azzam (lecturers in the political science department of Bayero University, Kano), the personalities who teach PhD students without traditionally having one, are the next examples. This is simply because they had galvanized in them what it all takes to be in the seat of professors.

It is not quite the heap of educational certificates one posses that exerts the rays of moral philosophy, taken or mistaken in the ‘disciplined’. Rather, it is the rhetorical question of what quality you are able to present in a discipline, not in your title or your paper qualification that relinquishes your status as angel or demon in the society today. Though, college graduates are awarded certificates in ‘character and learning’, the aesthetic parable of ‘certificaterism’, title-philia mixed together with other ‘ism (s)’ bewildered their originality of character and left them alone with ‘learning’ – if at all they tend to .

The bigger picture of this problem is vehement in the realm of the academia; it is the pride of every graduate to attain an excellent grade in academia, even if it takes to commit every material into memory without grasping the context, an insinuation of the part discovery of the work of Carmen Mc Cane depicting typical African students style of enquiry to knowledge. But Africans believe in it probably because at least the outcome would yield a fruitful job or turn someone to be a celebrity. Our reference to what we believe, and do, usually reflects our state of being in a little mental slavery; for example, it is common among people of learning to refer a system of education as ‘Western Education’: 6 3 3 4 system, etc. And the system was even maintained in other civilizations including the eastern world or the Near East. If not refer as ‘Western Education’, then what? Why not reframe it ‘Contemporary Education’, yes contemporary, because it is not western or eastern… it is human.

Well, it is not bad to attain excellent grades. Nay, it’s a key—which opens doors of good job, clue of becoming a celebrity. The moral question of humility is what tarnishes the image of academic excellence, the epidemic of the gods of paradigms, hypotheses, quotes and critics is growing wings and feathers to fly without limit or brake in the aura of learning in which there is nothing new but a replica of the olden known things. When something is discovered, then in the heart of the discoverer, germinates a seed of boastfulness.

And if mistakenly some sort of teasing fellow summoned that person with bare name – without title, hmmm…Where ever there is title philia there is problem! Ask me why? Okay! Let’s begin rally. It is a common knowledge that those who contribute immensely and/or founded a discipline are commonly refer to their names without title. Only a few could be necessarily holding titles, and if it happens you come across their original write ups, no doubt you will only come across attributed names without titles.

It is the impact of these gurus that prepared the world to witness a tremendous progress in all fields of human endeavor. While for them it is not only their effort but also their humility that made them emerge as heroes in what they achieved, and they are still achieving, because their contribution to humanity is still existing and relevant. Acknowledging their work is a necessity before you could be recognized as one of a kind or awarded a first, second or third degree. The virtue of knowledge sailed the ship of humanity from the very first beginning of man race. Man is blessed with knowledge to overcome obstacles and foster development around his environs, and to the larger extent relate well with his creator, not to be boastful arrogant. Ah! Take a good look at the episode of Satan, Adam and the angels before their Lord; Adam and Satan are both knowledgeable, but God chose Adam over Satan because Satan is boastful arrogant. So, it’s an olden phenomenon.

By Mulikat Etudaiye, Mass communication Dept, Bayero University, Kano.


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