Hey y’all! Happy New Month! Actually, in the spirit of the book I just read, I don’t know why people say “Happy New Month!” I don’t understand the obsession with the celebration of every little thing… But maybe I should save that rant for another post!
So, welcome to another episode of The Spotlight! Today, I’m reviewing a book I read by Okechukwu Ofili, popularly known as the co-founder of Okadabooks.com. The book is controversially titled “How Intelligence Kills”, and is apparently Ofili’s third publication. He previously wrote “How Stupidity Saved My Life” and “How Laziness Saved My Life”! I know right… LOL!
Before I get to the book I’m spotlighting, here’s a little bit more about the Author. Ofili is a Nigerian Blogger, and blogs at www.ofilispeaks.com. His tagline reads “Addicted To Truth… Allergic To Bullshit!” Yeah, you’re starting to get a sense of the man, I’m sure. A no-nonsense, tell it like it is brother, who may be just a little bit quirky. I don’t know him all that well, apart from the few interactions we’ve had on and about his platform, Okadabooks.
I have met him once though, at GTBank and Okadabook’s Press Release over their “Dusty Manuscript Competition”, which should be announcing it’s top 25 finalists any day now. At the time, I was chatting with him about this and that, especially about my book and struggles with promoting it. It was only when I brought out said book and asked if he would buy it that I realised that he hadn’t recognised me at all!!! But praise the Lord, he bought it :D!
Anyway, to the review. How Intelligience Kills… The book is like a series of articles that address different issues in Nigeria, and highlight how we have misplaced focus and priorities and shot ourselves in the foot with backward mentalities. Ofili talks on a wide range of topics, addressing primarily the educational system, political sphere, religious institutionalisation, cultural blackholes, technological challenges and even women’s rights! He talks boldly about many of the the things that we are too afraid to admit to ourselves, let alone bring up in public. Then he also talks about a lot of the things we do say and challenges us to go beyond talking (and prayer) to action!
At a time like this, when Childish Gambino is trending, and Falz’s cover of his song “This is America” – “This is Nigeria” – is going viral, a book like this could be what many Nigerians need to be reading. We need to be boldly having these discussions, and moving beyond complaining to thinking about and working out solutions. Ofili shows that contrary to what many might think, Nigerians are really quite brilliant and capable, and given the chance we could surpass the leaders of the world in idea creation and overcome poverty.
The problem isn’t so much that we haven’t been given the chance, but that we also do not give ourselves a chance! We exalt other people’s cultures above ours, and do not even know our history. As a nation, we do not believe in ourselves, and we seek rather to thrive and survive individually than thinking BIG and working together for the good of all.
There are so many things he addressed in his book that I can’t even try to re-iterate. I would just recommend that you take the time to read it, ponder on it and change your thinking and your doing. There are a couple of ideas he shared that I had my eyebrow up on, not sure that I fully support, but they did challenge my thinking.
One of them was his suggestion that corruption can and should be legalised, because that is apparently what the Western World have incorporated into their systems, which are also not without corruption. In this way he compares corruption to sex in that, you can’t stop people from doing it, so better make it legal. While I get his point, I am fundamentally against the idea of legalising something because that’s just the way it is, or you can’t expect more from people, and so you have to accommodate their sin/wickedness. That is why in the West, the unthinkable is legalised in the name of tolerance. I believe in standards, and I know that if we drop our standards, we can’t expect to achieve true greatness.
So, I’m not on board with everything. Another example is regarding his perspective on the British Educational System, and our obsession with grades and exams… While I get his point about academic achievement not being the be-all and end-all of intelligence or even the marker for intelligence, I couldn’t stop thinking that to eradicate or overhaul the academic system for his more free and creative ideas of learning, which may open the door wider for those who have been shut out intellectually, may not truly maximise the benefit of healthy competition in society.
It is like the Communism/Capitalism debate! And ultimately, you can’t ever stop measuring or even comparing. It was glaring to me that the whole time, he continued to compare Nigeria to other countries doing better based on MEASUREMENTS AND GRADES, which he seemed to challenge in his redefinition of what makes for intelligence. For example, he said that he had been made to feel stupid in primary school through the grading system, but talked about how he later qualified in the top 10 of his BSc Engineering class in the American system… If grades didn’t matter, then it shouldn’t matter if he got a degree or not, or what level he was in his class.
Overall, I thought that it was a good and worthy read, and it made me think. It made me laugh too. I also found it quite inspiring. I like his boldness and sincerity, and how he calls out shit for what it is. Like the NYSC foolery! That’s just the biggest load of shit that we have been forced to swallow in this country! I love Ofili’s suggestion for how NYSC should be… You should get the book to find out. It’s very affordable at N247 on Okadabooks.com.
Photo credit: http://www.pixabay.com
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