The absence of excellence that is prevalent in this part of the world is not due to a lack of creativity, or a moral bankruptcy. We
have erroneously thought of excellence in isolation- as a vague virtue people should be encouraged to adopt. However, what we have failed to discover is that the modern age has provided a methodical way to develop some morals. In other words, we do not need to appeal to anyone’s morality to be at one’s best all the time.
It has been proven that humans are not predictable because we can be influenced by random circumstances which can alter behaviors and dispositions at any time. This is why on many counts, the use of machines are employed for specific tasks so that results can be consistent and dependable.
I posit that the subject of virtues should not be entrusted to faith houses alone. The Bible says “whatever you find doing, do with all your might’ and ‘thou shall not tell lies.” These are good lessons but they don’t hedge against the ‘unreliability’ risk of being a human being.
Transparency requires the state of truthfulness at all times but man’s instincts for self preservation may override it. The best of people still tell lies, however little. Hence the need for CCTV, cameras, digital book-keeping, and other facilities that may keep irreversible digital footprints. This, thus, enables greater precision in making informed decisions.
So, is there a methodical way to hack excellence?
The mark of excellence is impeccable outcome, replication and ubiquity. We express our frustration at our local furniture makers when they make our chairs for instance. They may produce 24 pieces of one design and they all come out with 24 different dimensions. Whereas, the wood worker in the US will use the CNC machine for accurate measurement and cutting- producing precision and accuracy.
The same goes for sports. The European goalkeeper is trained by a machine that simulates shots from different unimaginable angles. The result is athletes performing at high capacity compared to those in Nigeria or Africa.
For the arts, why aren’t we operating at the maximum level of excellence?
James Cameron, the Director of the multi-award winning film, Titanic has completed 33 submersible dives to the Titanic wreck. He could make a classic movie as real as the Titanic because of the experience he had being 35,000ft below sea multiple times.
Science = Excellence
How can a people be called excellent if many have not witnessed what judges them so? Thus, if Nigeria’s fashion is excellent, why is the power of its ubiquity in the hands of the Chinese or Dutch or the Turkish? The technology to mass-produce Akwete or Adire is not available in Nigeria.
Afrobeat or Highlife music would have been enjoyed in only a few clusters around the world if people who had the global distribution power did not appreciate the sound. Important, it is, to emphasize that this power of distribution- the real power is not held by the creatives in Nigeria but by foreign executives in the West.
It is therefore of utmost importance that the Nigerian education must begin to prioritize a case for disciplines at the intersection of science and arts. The arts will not produce excellent results if the orientation reserves it for the less bright students.
Science gives life to ideas. It empowers culture, creativity and handiwork. More emphatically, we must start thinking scientifically to be excellent.
Around the world, it is not the possession of ideas that builds trans-national wealth, rather, it is the excellent scientific rendition and distribution of the same.
Ifechi Ugwu Kalu