Intellectualism and the Development of a People By Prof G. I. Onah

Posted by Cosmas Asogwa On Wednesday, September 11, 2013 0 comments
Intellectualismand theDevelopmentof aPeople
2011 Adada Lecture   10 September 2011
Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Godfrey Igwebuike OnahDeputy Vice ChancellorPontifical Urbaniana University, Vatican City.

A publication of the Association of Nsukka Professors (ANP)

ASSOCIATION OF NSUKKA PROFESSORS (ANP) AND THE ADADA LECTURE SERIESThe Association of Nsukka Professors (ANP) was formally inaugurated on January 02 2010 through the instrumentality of Professor C.L.A Asadu after consultations with many Professors from the Nsukka cultural zone. The historic inauguration was chaired by Professor L. O. Ocho. The Motto of the Association is Academic Excellence for Community Services. The objectives of the association are to:i.          Pursue and execute programmes consistent with the interest of the Nsukka cultural zone and the larger society;ii.         Provide platforms for intellectual discourse on variousIssues that challenge the society;iii.        Render humanitarian services to mankind to the bestof its ability;iv.        Organize and promote enlightenment programmes forpeople; andv.         Cooperate with any association having similarobjectives to harness the intellectual.ANP are composed full professors who  are from the seven local government areas that make up the Nsukka cultural zone i.e. Igbo-Etiti, Igbo-Eze North, Igbo-Eze South, Isi-Uzo;  Nsukka, Udenu and Uzo-Uwani.The broad aim of Adada Lecture Series is to create a channel through which aspects of the objectives of ANP could be realised and also to create a forum for members and other people to interact with their relations, colleagues and friends. The lecture series is planned to be an annual event during which seasoned and sufficiently informed and experienced men or women in the society will be selected and invited to deliver the lecture.The executive members of ANP are: D.N. Ezeh (President), Fred Nwodo (Vice-President), C.L.A Asadu (Secreatry), Rose Onah (Ass. Secretary), Willy Ugwuanyi (Treasurer), Ngozi Nnam ( Financial Secretary) and O.S. Abonyi (Public Relations Officer).Secretary.

Intellectualism and the Development of a People1. IntroductionInformation about the plan for the event now unfolding before us was administered to me in little, progressive, doses. A few months ago, Professor David N. Ezeh called me on the phone and informed me of the existence, for a couple of years now, of an Association of Nsukka Professors, made up of professors from the geo-political area of Nsukka (the old Nsukka division), irrespective of the University in the world where they are teaching. “Great!” Like one taking the first little dose of a hard drug, I was excited at the news. Not very long ago, all the University professors from the Nsukka area could be counted on the fingers of one palm. The presence in our land of one of the leading Universities in Nigeria (I hope I am not out of touch with the present reality) and perhaps the first indigenous University in the country (depending on the criterion one uses) did not seem to have had much impact on the life of the average Nwa Nsukka. To learn, therefore, that today there are enough professors from this same area to form an association, was an exhilarating piece of news. “No condition is permanent,” was the motto of the rebirth of Ndigbo after the humiliating experience of the war that brutally suppressed the nascent Republic of Biafra. At last, Nwa Nsukka seems to have awoken from his slumber. “Great!” I was still in my initial excitement, congratulating all the members of the Association and all those who may have contributed to its birth and indicating, of course, that it should be taken for granted that I was a member with all rights, privileges and obligations, when Prof. Ezeh delivered the second dose of the news. The Association had decided to start a lecture series to be called “Adada Lectures.” “Oh, that is simply wonderful!” Nsukka, famed for being the University town, is finally being honoured with a cultural event that is not merely folkloristic, but befitting the academic environment of a University. The pain, embarrassment and shame caused to all respectable Nsukka people by the abused versions of odooriokpa and akatakpa are reported regularly in the on-line editions of some Nigerian newspapers for the entire world to read. In the forty-seventh chapter of the book of the prophet Ezekiel we read of the fresh water flowing from the Temple into the sea, making the waters of the sea wholesome and giving new life to all living things (plants as well as animals) with which it came into contact. And one wondered whether the fresh water flowing from the Temple of knowledge, the UNN – that revered den of roaring lions and lionesses – was flowing underground to somewhere else and, therefore, could not touch Nwa Nsukka, refresh his vision and mentality in order to help him purify his culture and preserve its values in a way that would be more enriching to him and his community in contemporary society. “Adada Lectures. Oh, that is simply wonderful!” Then, came the last dose, totally unexpected. The members of the Association had in their previous meeting decided that I should deliver the first ever in the Adada Lecture series. I was knocked off! When I became aware once more of the voice at the other end of the telephone, he was already talking about the topic of the lecture and the date. It did not seem that I had a chance to say no. Neither did I want to, much as I was aware of the enormity of the responsibility that had just been placed in my hands. I somehow managed to express my appreciation to the members of the Association of Nsukka Professors for their trust and the honour and to renegotiate the date before Prof. Ezeh hung up.For hours, days, weeks and months after that telephone conversation, I have asked myself several questions and found only few answers. I first thought of the proverbial hen that was chosen as the victim for sacrifice by the other animals because she was too busy to attend the general assembly during which the decision was taken. Could my present role be compared to hers? Of course not. Mine is an honour, completely unmerited, given to me by a body of intellectuals, some of whom are trail-blazers in their fields, who had acquired international fame while I was still in school. I therefore stand before you today not as a “lecturer,” even though this is the “First Adada Lecture,” but rather as a spokesperson, who is expected to imagine what his colleagues would want to say on an issue very close to their hearts and give it a public articulation. The only resemblance it will have to a lecture is that I shall adopt a tradition kept in some Roman Universities and make this first lecture a lectio brevis: brief, generic, and introductory. May I here formally express my most sincere gratitude to the leadership and members of the Association of Nsukka Professors for the noble idea of the Adada Lecture Series and for the great honour done to me by asking me to, as it were, have the first word.What I propose here could be seen as part of the programme or the mission statement of our Association. This, I believe, is the motivation behind the choice of the theme that was assigned to me today for discussion: “Intellectualism and the Development of a People.” As we shall soon see, University professors, lecturers and researchers are among those generally regarded as intellectuals – at least they are supposed to be. For intellectuals in Nsukka to have chosen the relationship between intellectualism and development (between their life and development) as the very first theme of their public reflection, it must indeed be an important issue to them. As our people say, ihe an’ ejile vur’ uzo, b’ishi ye (whatever part of the body an animal puts forward first as it moves should be regarded as its head). One can imagine these ladies and gentlemen, who have invested incalculable amounts of their material resources, time, physical and emotional energy in the acquisition of specialized knowledge, wondering what impact they are actually making or could make on the people and the world around them. Furthermore, observing with some amount of apprehension the trend among a large majority of the younger generations, they may also be asking what they could do to convince the younger ones that the culture of the intellect is really worth all the trouble. Of course, these younger ones already know that:Akwukwo na-aso uso;m’o na-afia aru na mmuta.Onye welu ntasi-obi,o ga-amuta akwukwo;m’obulu na nne ya na nna ya nwee ego!(Formal education is delightful, but difficult to acquire. With some patience, one can acquire some education, if his or her parents have the wherewithal!) Yet, they (the younger ones) may be asking: Besides being delightful, of what use is education, especially higher education, to warrant so much investment? What role, if any, does it play in the development of a person or a people? It is my conviction that the Nsukka men and women who have put the culture of the intellect at the centre of their lives want to address this issue for the benefit not only of the youth, but also of the intellectuals themselves and of the society at large.            One may already point out to me at this point that education is not the same thing as intellectualism. A typical retort to this from a student of philosophy or a law student would be: “It depends on what you mean by education and what you mean by intellectualism.” Words, being symbols, usually do not have univocal meanings. Like every symbol, a word can be given different meanings in different circumstances. The words we use more often (life, love, truth, be, come, go… are usually the ones whose meanings are more flexible (an Igbo man will tell you “a-na m abia” [I am coming] when he is actually going!). We often fail to communicate in our speech and writings due to our failure to first establish a common ground of meanings expressed by the words we use. In this reflection, therefore, I shall start with a brief outline of the senses in which I use the two principal terms, intellectualism and development. Thereafter, I shall try to show the interrelation between them, using, where possible, some illustrations from the history of humanity. This discussion will then, finally, be inserted within the particular context of Ndigbo in general and Igbo-Nsukka in particular. Some attention has been paid to this theme by eminent Nigerian scholars in the recent past.[1] Theophilus Okere’s reflections on the topic is very enriching and I shall draw repeatedly from that refreshing source. No claim is made here, therefore, of presenting entirely new ideas. My aim is more modest, namely, to restate some cherished old ideas in a simplified way (if possible), within a context in which such ideas seem to have been either forgotten or, at least, devalued. Before going on to examine the main issues in our theme, however, it would be helpful to make a short statement about the subject whose intellect and whose development is under examination, namely, the human being. This is because one’s views about human development are derived directly, even if sometimes unconsciously, from one’s concept or idea of the human being or of human nature.2. Short Notes on Human Nature            Our concern here is the use of the human intellect in the process of human development, that is, the development of human beings. But what exactly does it mean to be human? The human being is, to say the least, a very complex being. Philosophers, theologians and natural scientists have for thousands of years attempted to understand and to describe his true nature with very little success. Whereas man has been able to penetrate many of the mysteries in nature, with regard to his own nature, the experience seems to have been “the more you look, the less you see.” Man has remained a great mystery to himself. Although he is able to describe very many aspects of his nature in minute details, he does not seem to have any comprehensive knowledge of himself. Whereas some thinkers hold that there is a minimum, an essence, that is common to all human beings, irrespective of their culture, age, sex, or history, others maintain that every human being is so different from the other that any talk of a nature common to all human beings has no basis in reality. Even among those who subscribe to the thesis of a common human nature, there is a disagreement among them with regard to what exactly constitutes human nature. While some say that our common humanity is to be sought in our spiritual nature, others insist that it is in our biology. An ancient tradition that dates back to the Egyptians, nearly five thousand years ago, taught that man was divine, only a little lower than a god or the angels, to use the expression found in the Bible (Psalm 8: 5). More recently, however, especially since Charles Robert Darwin, a good number now think that he is only a little higher than the monkeys.My position is that all human beings share the same essential nature, a basic minimum that is common to all humans and exclusive to them. I am also of the opinion that this common nature is at the same time spiritual and biological, for the human being is botha little lower than the angels and a little higher than the monkeys. He participates in the natures of both the divine and the beast. To Aristotle is attributed one of the most popularized definitions of the human being in the history of thought: rational animal. By this definition, man is basically an animal, distinguished from the others by his being also rational, that is, capable of the use of reason. Within the Greek tradition of philosophy, the use of reason (nous) makes humans divine, similar to the gods. Yet, it is remarkable that Aristotle did not conceive man as a biological or physical god, but rather as a rationalanimal. In the Hebrew biblical tradition, on the other hand, when describing human nature, the emphasis is placed on man’s affinity to the divine. Like every other creature, he is of divine origin, created by God. But he alone is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1: 26 & 27). Hence, his entire life is assessed and judged in the light of his relationship with God. Whether his action is right or wrong depends not on whether or not it corresponds to his biological constitution but on whether or not it is pleasing to God. The biblical doctrine of the imago Dei is a clear statement of a view of human nature that is found, in different versions, in many other religious and philosophical traditions: Egyptian, Igbo, Yoruba, Akan, Hindu, et cetera. According to this view, the human being is a creature of God, possessing something divine. Despite this divine element, however, man still shares in the world of animals and plants. But thanks to it, he is not limited to the world of animals and plants, but is perpetually oriented towards God in an on-going process of formation and growth, until a final union with God which constitutes the ultimate destiny of all humans and gives meaning and direction to every human striving. It is my opinion that any account of human nature that ignores either the divine and spiritual dimension or the biological and material one will only present a distorted picture of the human being. Man is the meeting point of two seemingly opposing and contradicting worlds: the spiritual and the material. He is an “incarnate spirit,” to borrow the expression of the French philosopher, Gabriel Marcel. As a being who shares in the worlds of spirit and matter, man’s fullness of and in being is worked out, in time, through a complex relationship with God, whose image he bears, with his fellow human beings and with the world in which he lives. This is the basis of that human dynamism whose general direction is termed human development, or, in some cases, human underdevelopment.3. The Intellect, the Intellectual and IntellectualismIt has just been noted that the spiritual dimension of human beings makes them, in some sense, divine. For the Ancient Egyptians, the creative word (ka) of the sun god (Ra) is also present in the human being as one of his constitutive principles. This divine principle not only makes the human being intelligent but it also makes the entire created universe intelligible to him. Since the same principle that gave order to the universe also inhabits the human being, man has the possibility as well as the obligation to decipher that order and live by it. This explains why Ancient Egyptian morality was not based on obedience to any positive law or set of commandments, human or divine, but on man’s obligation to use his divine endowment to understand the order in the universe and live according to that order. The Greeks represented this divine feature in humans sometimes as logos and at other times as nous. In Aristotle, nous becomes a special quality or power of the human soul which makes it capable of the kind of knowledge that captures the inner nature of a thing, its “whatness” or quiddity.[2] It is, however, to the Latin expression of this distinctive divine feature or characteristic in human beings, intellectus, that we owe the English word “intellect” with all its cognates. Intellectus may be seen to have come from intelligere, “to choose, to discern, to discriminate, to understand,”[3] or from intus-legere, to read into, in the sense of penetrating the core of a thing. The intellect is also called mind (mens). For the French philosopher, physicist and mathematician, René Descartes, the human being was simply the mind. He did not consider the body part of the human being, since, according to him, it does not contribute anything to knowledge, and knowledge is the distinguishing activity of humans. This view of the human being, which Descartes himself found difficult to defend before his contemporaries, is partial and reductionist. Not only is the human being both body and spirit, the human spirit is not reducible to mind or intellect alone, important as it is. The slow process through which human knowledge is acquired, points to the multi-dimensional nature of human beings.Knowledge begins with our immediate awareness of things around us. But the way things appear to us immediately, may not be how they really are. There is a world of difference between appearance and reality. One may see or touch something that appearsto be a piece of rubber, while in reality it is a poisonous snake, or welcome a person whoappears to be a friend, while in reality he or she is a foe. A problem may appear to be without any solution, while in reality it has many solutions. Unlike the other animals, human beings do not stop at the external appearance of a thing. They tend to understand it, to penetrate its core. Still unlike the other animals, man’s instincts alone are unable to give him all the information he needs in order to relate with external reality in a way that would permit him to preserve himself and his species. Instincts alone will not tell him, for example, which plants and animals are healthy as food and which are poisonous; whether it is helpful to procreate or not and, if yes, when. To be able to survive in the world, man needs to acquire a more complicated and organized form of knowledge that goes beyond the immediately perceptible. This kind of knowledge called intellective knowledge by Aristotle is abstract, general and virtually infinite, for it lends itself to infinite ways of organization. And the power in him (not a thing) which permits him to acquire this kind of knowledge is the intellect.[4] One can therefore affirm with Theophilus Okere that “the intellect is man’s major survival kit, man’s major door and antenna to other reality, man’s major tool in subduing the earth and mastering his environment.”[5]As beings who use the intellect, all humans are intelligent, even intellectual, beings. But when we say that one is an intellectual, we mean something a little different. An intellectual is one who makes the cultivation of the intellect and the acquisition of intellectual knowledge his or her vocation in life. He or she is one who makes the search for the truth about reality his or her life project. In my opinion, there is a close relationship between an intellectual and a philosopher. In fact, the kind of knowledge that makes one an intellectual is generally termed “philosophy” by John Henry Newman in his classic, The Idea of a University.[6] It is not coincidental that one who acquires the principles underlining the knowledge of any subject is described as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D. holder) in that subject. Théophile Obenga offers what he considers the first definition of a philosopher found in an Ancient Egyptian document, Inscription of Antef (ca 1991 BC) which, I believe, can also be applied to the intellectual. He is one “whose heart is informed about those things which would be otherwise ignored, the one who is clear-sighted when he is deep into a problem, the one who is moderate in his actions, who penetrates ancient writings, whose advice is [sought] to unravel complications, who is really wise, who instructed his own heart, who stays awake at night as he looks for the right paths, who surpasses what he accomplished yesterday, who is wiser than a sage, who brought himself to wisdom, who asks for advice and sees to it that he is asked advice.”[7]“To be an intellectual,” says Okere, “is to make a business of intellecting.”[8] Since the intellect, as we have seen, is associated with abstract knowledge, some regard the intellectual as one whose head is full of abstract knowledge with little or no bearing on practical reality, the idle star-gazer or book worm, consumed by too much bookish knowledge and conjuring the image of a soothsayer. About the middle of the twentieth century, there emerged in the United States of America supremacy of the business community which tended to regard with disdain a life dedicated to the cultivation of the intellect. Hence, the intellectual was described as the “egghead,” a supercilious and conceited person “who takes more words than are necessary to tell more than he knows.”[9] But far from the caricature of him presented by his detractors, the intellectual is a person who believes he can be more like a god through optimal use of the godlike quality in him, the intellect. He is one so dedicated to the truth that he searches for it scrupulously and continuously, questions every present form of it already discovered, challenges age-old prejudices paraded as truths, imagines things differently, “wonder[s] articulately at the mystery of reality,”[10] gathers information about reality, arranges and rearranges it to see what could be the result, explores the less trodden path in the search for truth, often at the risk of standing alone or of being rejected. The intellectual is a minister, a minister at the altar of truth; one who sees as his main obligation to humanity the diakonia of truth.Given his total dedication to truth and the search for it, the intellectual may appear eccentric, unorthodox and, sometimes, even rebellious. Diplomacy and compromise are usually taboo concepts to him. As a result, he is often marginalized and poor or, at least, not rich. Indeed, a wealthy intellectual is like a wealthy priest. He is viewed with suspicion and some may even regard him as a contradiction. This is because it is believed that one who is entirely devoted to truth cannot afford the compromises with falsehood and half-truths that are often indispensable for the acquisition of material wealth. Just as a wealthy priest may have erected a side-altar for Mammon in the sanctuary of God, so a wealthy intellectual may have erected a side-altar for falsehood in the sanctuary of truth. Plato’s prayer, put in the mouth of Socrates, expresses what could be regarded as the typical attitude of the intellectual to material wealth: “Dear Pan, and all ye other gods that dwell in this place, grant that I may become fair within, and that such outward things that I have may not war against the spirit within me. May I count him rich who is wise, and as for gold, may I possess so much of it as only a temperate man might bear and carry with him.”[11]In the same vein, when an intellectual courts power, fame or popularity, he runs the risk of losing his sharp edge and his lustre. Loren Baritz puts it bluntly: “Any intellectual who accepts and approves of his society prostitutes his skills and is a traitor to his heritage... Let the intellectual be absorbed into society and he runs the grave risk of permitting himself to be digested by it... When he touches power, it will touch him.”[12]Irving Howe believes that without material asceticism, the intellectual suffers a “slow attrition which destroys one’s ability to stand firm alone.”[13] These positions may seem extreme and typical of a reaction to a perceived situation of decadence. Not every intellectual needs to be like Fela or a secular monk. It does not seem that political power and the intellectual vocation are necessarily mutually exclusive. There have been some success stories of intellectuals who became good politicians and statesmen, and Ben Nwabueze, like Plato, makes a strong case for intellectualism in political leadership in Nigeria.[14] However, wealth and political power are potentially injurious to the integrity and the mission of the intellectual and any intellectual, who wants to remain an intellectual, would do well to bear that in mind. No one doubts that intellectuals need money to fund their research projects and that the decisions of persons in power are often necessary for the actualization of some ideas of the intellectuals for the betterment of society. Nevertheless, to be faithful to their intellectual vocation, they must avoid all “undignified prostrations” before wealth and a surrender of their freedom of expression through an undue attachment to the seats of power.[15] When an intellectual is co-opted by people in power the risk is that either he gets kicked out too soon for his uncompromising positions or he quickly becomes a conformist who, rather than challenge the status quo by raising embarrassing questions, applies his skills to sell the position of the oppressors to the oppressed. We have examples on both cases even here in our own country. For those intellectuals who think that their ideas can make an impact on the wider society only if they become personally and actively involved in government, these words from Armatya Sen,the Indian winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for economic science, could be very instructive: “I have, throughout my life, avoided giving advice to the ‘authorities.’ Indeed, I have nevercounseled any government, preferring to place my suggestions and critiques – for what they are worth – in the public domain.”[16] One way of doing this which, I believe, is accessible to all intellectuals is by writing and publishing. This not only places the work of the intellectual in the public domain, but also preserves it for posterity.When the intellectual is described as an aloof person, this should not necessarily be taken as a negative quality. A certain amount of distance is necessary for objectiveknowledge. An object – objectum in Latin, Gegenstand in German – is that which is placed in front of another, the subject. Standing too close to a thing makes it impossible to look at the thing critically, that is, in a way that would enable one to make a true judgement about it. There are, of course, other ways of knowing reality. For example, knowledge through the “sympathetic” embrace of love is also a valid form of knowledge. Leopold Sedar Senghor, the distinguished Senegalese man of letters, thought that this was a specifically and exclusively African way of knowing. He was wrong. Every human being is capable of knowing both by objectification and by embrace. Those who described the sexual intimacy between man and woman as a kind of knowledge were not Africans (Adam knew his wife and Mary, the mother of Jesus, new no man). Blaise Pascal, the French scientist, mathematician and philosopher spoke of the “reason” of the heart which is not known by reason and contemporary psychologists talk about emotional intelligence. This type of knowledge, however, is usually not objective but subjective and often uncritical. It is objective knowledge that is capable of seeing the limits and defects of a thing or a person. The intellectual, for the purposes of his intellectual vocation, puts a premium on objective knowledge, for it sharpens his mind and prepares him for criticism and creativity.One of the easiest ways to disfigure a beautiful idea is to transform it into an “ism” – whether we think of rationalism or materialism, communism or capitalism, secularism or clericalism, sensism or even idealism. Thus, intellectualism conjures up different absurd ideas: the exaggeration of the powers of the human intellect to the detriment of the other human faculties, the reduction of the human spirit to only the intellect, defence of the superiority of intellectuals to other classes of people in the society, and many more. In the history of philosophy, intellectualism is sometimes distinguished from voluntarism in the debate about the supremacy either of the intellect or the will in the governance of human actions. Also in philosophy, intellectualism may be regarded as the doctrine that true knowledge is derived from reason alone. The intellectualism which is my concern here, however, is neither a doctrine nor an exaggerated glorification of intellectuals or of the intellect. By intellectualism here I mean the adoption of the cultivation of the intellect as a vocation, especially when it is done by a good number of persons, and the creation or promotion of an environment that would encourage some to do so as well as enable those engaged in intellectual labour to, as it were, “practice their trade.” Intellectualism, as it is understood in this discussion, is an attitude which promotes the discipline, the refinement and the cultivation of the human mind.A close relationship exists between formal education and intellectualism. Although all human beings are intelligent beings and truth is accessible to all who seek it constantly, diligently and with the right tools, the habit of constantly tasking the human mind to offer its best in the search for truth does not come naturally to most people. It requires some discipline, which, in turn, requires training and guidance, some apprenticeship, through the use of some specific methods. These methods differ from one society to another and from one epoch to another. But no society can exist without them. Formal education, put simply, consists in the network of interrelated processes, means and methods which a society recognizes as valid for the training and guidance of its members in the multifaceted aspects of life. History is full of records of persons who gathered others around themselves with the sole purpose of instructing, training and guiding. Some operated in utmost secrecy, like the mystery systems of the Ancient Egyptian priests, which produced the world’s earliest records so far of philosophers, mathematicians, architects, physicians and astronomers. Others were more open and liberal, like the Greek philosophers and Jesus of Nazareth. Whereas it may be true that the Greek philosophers sowed the seeds of modern Universities, it was the teaching of Jesus and his disciples that prepared the soil and provided the conducive environment for the actual establishment the first Universities the eleventh century.In our traditional Igbo communities, formal education was not very elaborate and did not have established public institutions. It was generally left to older persons to educate the younger ones, since the knowledge needed for the survival of the individual and the group was believed to be acquired chiefly through personal experience and age was the main criterion used to judge who had accumulated more experience. Wider social interaction, however, led the people to accept that age was not the only source of knowledge and that a younger person could learn much through travels which he could teach even to the elders: Ony’ije ka ony’ ishi-ewo ak’ko (a traveller has more stories to tell than an old person). The African philosopher and theologian, St. Augustine, said that the world is like a book and those who do not travel read only one page. Contact with European missionaries and colonizers brought a completely new style of formal education into Igboland, namely, the school. The initial hesitation of our people in embracing the new form of education was soon overcome and within a short period it was regarded as normal that parents who could afford it should send their children to school.It may be safe to assume that the people of Nsukka first had a school established in their area only about a hundred years ago, in 1910. A rather late start, compared to some other parts of Igboland. Before then, our intellectuals were the sages – the persons who thought out the proverbs, crafted the beautiful folk stories and composed the captivating poems we sang at moonlight play – as well as those whose ideas led to the fabrication of the typically Igbo instruments of work and music, most of which have not been improved upon till date. Shortly after the arrival of schools in our land, a new breed of the intellectual was produced: the teacher, the odoziobodo. I know that some may laugh at the very idea of primary school teachers being considered intellectuals, given the level of education they then received before being drafted into the schools. But I know too that these men (hardly women then) were the first to keep written records of anything at all in our area. I know too that these men imagined our communities different from what they were at the time and assiduously applied the knowledge they had to the improvement of the quality of their lives and the lives of those around them. Above all, I know too that many of us are intellectuals today thanks the inspiration and example of these men. Their dedication to the culture of the intellect sometimes made them go from family to family trying to persuade hesitant fathers to offer their children some opportunity for higher education. Furthermore, it may not be an exaggeration to say that if all our University graduates today had the intellectual culture of some of these old teachers, we would not be lamenting the crash in the standard of education in our day.Today in Nsukka, as elsewhere in the world, University education has become a minimum requirement for anyone who intends to pursue a vocation as an intellectual, though University education alone, even when it is attested to by a Ph. D., does not make one an intellectual.[17] It may therefore be said that, although intellectuals and intellectualism are found in various sectors of the society, today the University is the natural habitat of intellectuals and the breeding ground of intellectualism. John Henry Newman, makes a distinction between an Academy and a University. Whereas the purpose of an Academy is the extension of knowledge in very specific areas through research, that of a University is the diffusion of universal knowledge for the formation of civilized and gentle members of society. The one aims at discoveries, the other at teaching. According to Newman, both kinds of intellectual labour cannot be combined in one person. “He who spends his day in dispensing his existing knowledge to all comers,” Newman argues, “is unlikely to have leisure or energy to acquire new.”[18] Useful as this distinction may be, not everybody will accept the separation. This is because most Universities today are also research centres. Furthermore, many who have advanced human knowledge through discoveries also held teaching positions in Universities. In a country like Nigeria, where Academies and Research Institutes are in very short supply, the University often has to fulfil the roles of both discovery and diffusion of knowledge. What is more important to our present reflection, however, is the glowing tribute that Newman pays to the University as a place for intellectual education.[19]4. Development – Human and IntegralA child was once asked during a catechism class: “Who made you?” She replied: “God made me small. The rest I’ve grown by myself.” The human being has very little offered him ready-made at birth. His instincts are neither as complex nor as developed as those of the lower animals. Everything about the human being takes time to develop and be developed. In a way, it can be said that the human being is only a project whose realization continues all through life. The little girl in the catechism class was therefore quite correct in claiming that she grew much of what she was herself. Through our choices and actions, we constantly transform ourselves and our environment, making ourselves either more or less human. Development is the process of transformation of ourselves and our environments that makes us more human. This is also part of what is generally called culture.Sometimes, indiscriminate quantitative multiplication of material goods is mistaken for human development when, in reality, it may be a sign of human decadence. There is often the tendency among many to regard a thing as better just because it is more recent. But not every change is progress, for the simple reason that not every movement is forward. Today the indices of development are usually such things as increase in the gross national product, technological growth with the accompanying industrialization and modernization (and in our context modernization almost always means an uncritical copying of Euro-North American models in practically everything), with little regard to whether such things make us more human or not. A more profound approach to human development, however, has to bear in mind a concept of human nature against which development can be measured. Without some idea of what it means to be human, it would be impossible to talk of “more” or “less” human, it would be impossible to talk of human development. I had earlier made a short sketch of what I would consider an integral view of human nature. It is my view that human development is whatever change that improves the ability of the human being to live out more fully this nature that I had briefly outlined. Human development is, thus, an unfolding (Entwicklung) of thetrue nature of the human person. It is not just any change in the human condition that would qualify as development, but one that results in an improvement of the quality of human life.One of the basic natural qualities of a human being is freedom. Man’s spiritual dimension makes him a being that is capable of choice. Freedom has to do more with man’s capacity to choose than with the absence of constraints. This capacity is, however, limited by many factors, some natural, others human. Some of these limitations can amount to negations of freedom. But since freedom is part of their essential characteristic, human beings constantly strive, often with much success, to overcome the limitations and thus increase their freedom. Amartya Sen sees development as freedom. For him, “development consists of the removal of various types of unfreedoms that leave people with little choice and little opportunity of exercising their reasoned agency.”[20] In this sense, many of the things usually taken as development (like the indices mentioned above) are only means to true human development. “An adequate conception of development,” Sen insists, “must go much beyond the accumulation of wealth and the growth of gross national product and other income-related variables... Development has to be more concerned with enhancing the lives we lead and the freedoms we enjoy.”[21] His list of examples of unfreedoms and their sources at whose removal development is aimed is very long, including hunger, undernourishment, poverty as well as poor economic opportunities, political repression, environmental degradation, neglect of the interests and agency of women, neglect of public facilities and institutions, lack of or limited access to clean water, to proper health care and sanitary facilities... The list is not exhaustive. If we accept his conception of development (I personally do), then the list would vary from place to place. And in our place, a comprehensive list of unfreedoms and their sources would, probably, make a fat book. This renowned economist re-echoes a point very clearly and forcefully made by Pope Paul VI more than twenty years earlier in his Encyclical Letter Populorum progressio when he said: “The development we speak of here cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man.”[22] Development, understood in this way, implies an improvement in one’s human qualities, fuller growth.[23] It is noteworthy that among the things listed by the Pope as testimony of the Catholic Church’s involvement in the development of peoples is the establishment of schools and Universities.[24] Walter Rodney, the Guyanese scholar and activist, tows the same line of thought. “Development in human society,” Rodney writes, “is a many-sided process. At the level of the individual, it implies increased skill and capacity, greater freedom, creativity, self-discipline, responsibility, and material well-being... At the level of social groups... development implies an increasing capacity to regulate both internal and external relationship.”[25] Although this may not be taken as a definition of development, it, nevertheless, points out some of its essential characteristics.The historical and the social contexts of the contact of the Africans with the Europeans in modern times have tended to make Africans regard as development every indiscriminate copying of the European and North American ways, with little thought about whether such ways can truly be regarded as improvement in the light of the true nature of the human being. As a result, even the sophisticated means of destruction and degradation of human life – from the ultra modern means of contraception and abortion to the arsenal of nuclear and biological warfare – as well as the possibility of a man marrying a fellow man and a woman marrying a woman with children manufactured in laboratories, are all regarded as technological development worthy of emulation. Given the common nature that all humans share, it is natural that human beings should appropriate values which have been discovered by others and seek to be helped by the experiences of their fellow human beings. Nevertheless, as intelligent beings, we should be able to assess which values are fundamental and absolute and which are ancillary and relative, or even which dis-values are presented as values, either out of ignorance or due to mischief. Africans in general and the Igbo in particular should know that models of development cannot be simply copied. Our basic human needs may be the same. But differing circumstances make the modes of supplying those needs different from one people to another and from one historical period to another. No people can delegate the responsibility for its development to another. This is an area where intellectuals and intellectualism are indispensable in any society, as a quick glance at the history of civilization will show.5. Some Historical Antecedents “There has been no major revolution in modern history without intellectuals.”[26]I believe that even if one struck out the word “modern” from this affirmation by Edward Said, it would still be true. Though the criteria for judging an intellectual, as we have seen, may vary, no society in history can record a transformation so radical as to be regarded as a revolution without the contribution of intellectuals. This is because, as we saw earlier, the intellectual raises questions, challenges the way things are and imagines how they could become. “The intellectual is thus the architect of ideas and ideals, engaged in what may be called the task of Imagineering for the betterment of society.”[27] Whatever one may say about the role of the environment in human development,[28] human agency has an important role to play. This human agency is first and foremost intellectual, for without the intellect, man’s hands are very limited indeed. Behind every great achievement in human history, there is a great idea. The Ancient Egyptians are reputed to have provided one of the world’s oldest civilizations with impressive systems of government that lasted for centuries and architectural works that have survived till our day. What is often not said is that without the ideas about the world, life and after-life elaborated by the Egyptian mystery schools run by the priests, the pyramids would not have been built and the science of embalmment would not have been developed; for the Pharaohs would not have been believed to be immortal and their authority divine. The priests of Egypt “accumulated and preserved the learning of Egypt, educated the youth, and disciplined themselves with rigor and zeal.”[29] Without them, the history of human civilization would have been different.What would Western civilization have been today without the genius of persons like Homer (the blind Greek poet, not the ugly jeep – Hummer), Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, St. Augustine and a host of other unsung intellectuals whose ideas and ideals humanity consumes today even without being aware of their source? What about those radical and fearless figures in Jewish history who challenged corrupt kings and the priests who allied with them – the prophets? If we were to bracket out our religious prejudices (Vorurteilen) for a while, we would see these men as intellectual stalwarts who would not be intimidated or distracted by any external forces in their search for and proclamation of the truth. Most of them paid dearly for their refusal to compromise the truth. But without them, the Jewish race would probably have disappeared before the birth of Christ. Furthermore, the great literary works they produced have continued to inspire believers and non believers alike. St. Justine saw a parallel between the Greek philosophers and the Jewish prophets. According to him, both groups were used by God to teach the two peoples the truth about himself.Religious intellectualism has been as useful as secular intellectualism in the development of peoples. The intellectual, Paul, was largely instrumental to Christianity bursting its Jewish boarders very early and embracing the wider human family. Medieval Europe was a vast theatre for tremendous social changes either initiated or sustained and advanced by Christian intellectuals. The period which modern historians of Europe have unfairly described as the “Dark Ages” provided much of the materials, including classical texts and commentaries on them, without which modern civilization would not have been possible. Without the Christian teaching on human freedom and on the dignity of the human person, every human being – rich or poor, saint or sinner – neither the Enlightenment nor the French Revolution would have been possible. The ideals that sustained the French Revolution – liberté, égalité,fraternité – are neither secular nor self-evident values. It took the intellectual labour of some thinkers of the Enlightenment, working in a culture fertilized for centuries by Christian values, to distil those ideals from the polluted social environment of the time, even though those intellectuals could not have imagined what their ideas would lead to. “The philosophers provided the ideological preparation for the [French] Revolution. The causes were economic and political, [but] the phrases were philosophical; and the operation of the basic causes was smoothed by the demolition work of the philosophers in removing such obstacles to change as belief in feudal privileges, ecclesiastical authority, and the divine right of kings... The philosophers denounced poverty and serfdom as well as intolerance and superstition.”[30]“Tantum possumus quantum scimus” – our power is proportioned to our knowledge.[31] This statement by a little known Italian philosopher of the Renaissance, Tommaso Campanella, became like a guiding principle – “knowledge is power” – to Francis Bacon, the British father of modern scientific method. Discarding the old method of reasoning, he prescribed the inductive method, which favoured observation and experimentation. Bacon died of the pneumonia he caught while experimenting on the effect of freezing in the preservation of meet. “Seeking to test how snow could keep flesh from putrefaction, he interrupted a journey one day in spring to buy a fowl. He killed it and stuffed it with snow, then found himself chilled... He thought the trouble would soon pass; he wrote that the experiment had ‘succeeded excellently well.’ He had preserved the fowl – but he lost his life.”[32] Today, when we put our chicken in the freezer, we are more likely to think of our PHCN (alias NEPA) than of Francis Bacon. Many an intellectual were derided and abandoned in life only to be rehabilitated posthumously, often by a small group of later intellectuals. Thus leaving them largely unknown to the people whose lives have been dramatically improved by their intellectual labour.All our improvised electricians today feel qualified to give “professional” advice on how many watts an electric generator can carry depending on its KVA. In doing this, they may proudly announce that although they never went beyond secondary school (and sometimes not even beyond primary school) education, but learned their trade from one renowned oga in Lagos, Enugu or Abuja, they are better qualified in the area than the so-called electrical engineers. And some of them might well be. This and similar instances may suggest that one need not waste time and resources going through University education in order to be an “expert” in a given field. And this is true. Besides, one does not need to be an expert to make an impact. This too is true. Nevertheless, what some of these electricians may never know is that they are in effect only consumers of the results of the combined work of some intellectuals, whose surnames they use every day without even knowing they ever existed. They may not know that without the painstaking work of the Scottish engineer James Watt, they would not be talking today of watts; that Alessandro Volta, the Italian physicist invented the ancestor of modern chemical battery and when they talk of volt and voltage they are actually perpetuating the memory of an intellectual. André-Marie Ampère, the father of electromagnetism, is even less known than the other two, so how can they know that the “A” in KVA (kilovoltampere) is his surname? Ignorance about the intellectuals whose ideas have improved the quality of our everyday life is not limited to our people alone.It is not surprising that the parts of the world generally regarded as more developed have also produced the greatest numbers of Nobel Prize winners. There is no doubt that the level of development in their countries have also created the enabling environment which made it possible for those intellectuals to carry on their researches and to make their contribution to the advancement of human knowledge. Intellectualism and development foster and reinforce each other.It was noted above that although political power could corrupt the intellectual; this does not necessarily have to be so. That intellectualism and political leadership are not necessarily mutually exclusive has been attested to by many personalities in history. Concerning the United States of America, Richard Hofstadter testifies: “When the United States began its national existence, the relationship between intellect and power was not a problem. The leaders were intellectuals... The Founding Fathers were sages, scientists, men of broad cultivation, many of them apt in classical learning, who used their wide reading in history, politics, and law to solve the exigent problems of their time... John Adams, John Dickinson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Mason, James Wilson, and George Wythe.”[33] If one feels admiration for the American Constitution, which laid the foundations for the present greatness of the United States, one should check the profiles of the men who drafted it. Coming closer to home, although hasty assessment may rate the likes of Leopold Sedar Senghor and Kwame Nkrumah very low in terms of political achievements, a comparison between the current state of affairs in the countries they led and that in our beloved Nigeria may provide some material for a more positive assessment of them. Our recent experience in Nigeria is that intellectuals are often used as disposable kits in emergency situations. Even at that, their recommendations are usually ignored, to the detriment of all of us. I hope it will not be forgotten in a haste that the little sanity which was noticed during the last elections in the country was thanks to the role played by intellectuals. From the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) down to the State Resident Electoral Commissioners and the Returning Officers, we had University Professors (including sitting and former Vice Chancellors),  Lecturers and Registrars. They were not all saints. But the difference they made was clear!6. Recent Igbo Experience            Before the Nigeria-Biafra war, the intellectual was the pride of the Igboman. There was a time when those who had any University degree at all were celebrated in Igboland as great intellectuals and heroes. Apart from those among them who played some useful roles in political leadership and activism – Nnamdi Azikiwe, Michael Iheonukara Okpara, Francis Akanu Ibiam, Mbonu Ojike – there were also others who were admired and respected just for their intellectual stature: Chike Obi, Kenneth Onwuka Dike, Chinua Achebe, Alvan Ikoku. Time was when to be called “nne lawyer” or “nne doctor” was the dream of many women in some parts of Igboland. A story is told of a day in the 1960s in which news went round Otu Onitsha that Prof. Kenneth Dike was in town and many traders quickly closed their stalls as they rushed to grab an opportunity of setting their eyes on this revered intellectual.[34] Then came the war, the blockade, the starvation, the surrender, the humiliation and the economic emasculation. Despite the beautiful slogan, “No victor, no vanquished,” there was (and still is) a clear plan to crush the presumably rebellious Igbo spirit and, thus, shatter the myth of the resilient Igboman. But the Igbo fought back. Since they were left with nothing, having been stripped to the bare skin of all the material wealth they had acquired before the war by the post-war Nigerian government, their foremost battle was for survival in a Nigeria that neither wanted them in its fold nor would it let them go. As I already mentioned at the beginning, “No condition is permanent” became their motto, painted boldly on the dilapidated walls of what used to be houses, on kiosks, hand-pushed trucks and ramshackle boxes on four or six wheels, which they called cars and lorries. Onitsha, especially the Main Market, was the nerve-centre of this Igbo struggle for economic revival.Within a very short time, a new set of social icons emerged, namely, the rich. They were celebrated in songs, decorated with all forms of spurious “traditional” titles and hoisted as flags for the young to behold, to venerate and to emulate. Perhaps some of them deserved the adulation, for to rise from abject poverty to being a multi-millionaire in a couple of years takes much more than good luck. But the toll the Igbo people have paid in values for this has been enormous. Now money and what money can buy seem to be all that matter (o ego k’o y’eli – it will only cost money). Even our proverbial egalitarianism and republicanism seem to have disappeared as the super rich became the “owners” of the community (ndi nwe obodo), at least so they claimed, and their praise-singers reminded those who were in doubt that the community or town indeed belonged to some people (a na-enwe obodo enwe). Anybody who observes the way most political office holders are now selected in Igboland and what they do with our money when they are in office will wonder why that song – “a na-enwe obodo enwe” –  has not yet become a kind of Igbo national anthem, for we have collectively sold our birthrights to those who have “hard currency” to spray.            Before long, the only-money-counts attitude found its way into the precincts of the Churches and, through harvests, bazaars and the unending fund-raising programmes for the innumerable Church projects, it gradually moved right into the sanctuary. From the sanctuaries it has exploded like a petrol tank on fire, spilling its content into massive open air rallies, crusades and fanfares of the miracle industries and mega-markets, where the insecure wealthy class, the distressed youth and the miserable victims of the reckless pillage of our national wealth by an unscrupulous political class collectively fund the extravagance of some self-appointed redeemers. Ego! What can money not buy now from an Igboman and in Igboland? What does the Igboman not believe that he can buy with money? After all, o ego k’o y’eli. And if only money counts, why would any sane Igbo person invest in the intellectual culture except it is also a sure way of making much money?            What about our Universities and other institutes of higher education?  “The University,” says Kyari Tijani, is the arena per [sic] excellence where the intellectual displays his wares and makes his living.”[35] Sure, the late Prof. Tijani was being metaphorical in his use of terms. Nevertheless, this imagery, as beautiful as it is, could be problematic in a country like Nigeria, especially among people like the Igbo, who seem to have reduced everything in life to buying and selling. It is no secret that for many people, the Universities and other institutions of higher learning in Nigeria have today literallybecome extensions of Otu Onitsha, Alaba International Market or Wuse Market, where not just books and hand-outs but also admissions, grades and even degrees are up for sale toany person at all who has the cash to pay. This cash-and-carry attitude adopted by some members of the University community in Nigeria has de-motivated many of our hard-working youths and demoralized our real intellectuals. Other forms of inducement apart from money, which are now allegedly used to obtain marks and, consequently, degrees in our Universities, are not worthy of mention in this dignified congregation of intellectuals.            Reflecting on what has happened to the Igbo psyche since after the Nigeria-Biafra war, I am tempted to assume that the single most influential institution in post-war Igboland is neither the Christian Church nor the University of Nigeria Nsukka, but the Onitsha Main Market (Otu Onitsha). It seems to have formed our mentality and created our heroes, ideals and values. Although not all the eze-egos­ (money monarchs) in Igboland today made their wealth at the Onitsha market, it appears to have set the tune of what has become the preferred music for most Igbo people today. It seems too that the nearer one draws to the Otu, the louder that music is heard, in spite of the array of distinguished intellectuals that the area has so far produced. If someone like Prof. Kenneth Dike were to venture nearing the area today, he would be lucky if he is not knocked into the gutter by anokada rider, except, of course, he was there for a money-spraying spree in the name of political campaign. My hope is that, since this position of mine is a result only of impressions and suppositions, rather than of research and study, sometime very soon, our sociologists, using the correct methods and the appropriate tools, will take a critical look at contemporary Igbo society and prove me wrong. Nobody will be happier than I to know that on this issue I was dead wrong in my assessment of my people. Until then, let no one try to console me by pointing out that these ills are found all over Nigeria, not only among the Igbo. For other Nigerians are wont to accuse the Igbo of having spread the only-money-counts virus (including the culture of “settling”) to the rest of the country.7. The Task Ahead for Nwa NsukkaAkwukwo na-aso uso;m’o na-afia aru na mmuta.Onye welu ntasi-obi,o ga-amuta akwukwo;m’obulu na nne ya na nna ya nwee ego!Yet, the question remains: Is education, especially higher education, still worth the trouble for our people? If material wealth was all we needed in life, then higher education would not be the shortest and best route to it. But, as Aristotle rightly observed, people do not usually seek wealth for its own sake, but rather for other things which they hope that wealth would make possible, namely, “better life” – to use a popular Nigerian expression. Commenting on Aristotle’s view, Amartya Sen said: “The usefulness of wealth lies in the things it allows us to do – the substantive freedoms it helps us to achieve.”[36] As has already been mentioned, Sen sees development as the means of removing the different types of unfreedom which bedevil human beings, thus offering them more freedom. The Legend of Nsukka, nay Enugu State, the Late Bishop Michael Ugwu Eneja, once said to me: “The greatest freedom you can give to a man is to educate him.” I agree. To educate is to lead to the truth and, as Jesus said, “you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free” (John 8: 32). Of all forms of bondage or slavery, ignorance is the worst. For it totally deprives a person of the possibility of choice. Freedom is the capacity for choice. A piece of drama which was very popular when I was in primary school was titled: “Ignorance is a disease.” Putting these together, one may conclude that education, being a way to freedom, is both a type of development and a means of further development. Education brings out the best in a person. It polishes one’s talents and increases one’s potentials. Education enhances personal development. It also equips the individual to make a more personal and meaningful contribution society.Many young Igbo people today, especially the males, shun University education,[37] because they believe that taking the fastest route to most wealth will automatically translate into more development or “better life.” They are wrong. Wealth without knowledge increases bondage. And development is about freedom. However, if Igbo male youths today show less interest in the cultivation of the mind, elder Igbo intellectuals should ask themselves what they might have done to contribute to this. Could it be that the intellectuals themselves have failed to show by their life that their vocation is worth following by others? The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, one of Christianity’s worst enemies, told his Christian contemporaries: “If your faith makes you happy, show yourselves to be happy.  Your faces have always done more harm to your faith than our reasons! If that glad message of your Bible were written on your faces, you would not need to demand belief in the authority of that book in such stiff-necked fashion.”[38] Elsewhere he said that for him to believe in the Redeemer, “his disciples would have to look more redeemed!.”[39] Intellectuals who are not proud of their identity or who have nothing to show for their intellectual labour are bad publicity for intellectualism. An intellectual who succumbs to the prevalent commercial civilization in Igboland, cannot be a role model to the myriad of Igbo boys hawking wares along the streets of Lagos, nor can he rouse the envy of the trader in the Ariaria market, Aba. In Nigeria today, politics has become the most lucrative business. The inordinate amount of money people collect (to say “earn” would be to abuse the term), just for being anywhere near political power in this country, is visible even to the blind in Nigeria today. People are usually not very parsimonious with money they did not suffer to get. Should intellectuals, instead of getting angry at the banditry and spendthrift culture of some corrupt politicians and political office holders, prostrate before them, in order to eat the crumbs that fall from the masters’ tables, then some boys who have some dignity in them would prefer to run after molue buses with sachets of “pure water.” If those who should know adopt the principle “ewu soko onye ji ekwukwo” (the goat follows whoever is carrying green grass), they should blame nobody but themselves if they are scorned.Although most of our intellectuals have remained faithful to their intellectual vocation, not without difficulties and temptations, the harvest is still plenty, the labourers are very few indeed, the instruments still fewer and those few ones are often very defective. One does not need to look far in order to see areas crying to our intellectuals for immediate and constant intervention. Unfortunately, because of our colonial history from which we inherited our present formal educational system, our intellectual education is often not relevant to the cultural, environmental and existential needs of the people and place whose development we would want to advance. Every knowledge, says Hans George Gadamer, is an answer to a question. The fundamental question which our intellectuals should constantly ask themselves is: Whose questions are we answering? Applying this to our various areas of specialization, one may ask: Whose philosophy are our professors of philosophy “professing”? Economics is all about the management of the home. Whose home are our economists managing? Medicine is for health. Which parameters are used in the measurement of health and sickness? Human nature is one, it is true, and the exchange of words, ideas, inventions, systems, are part of the human mode of being. As I have said elsewhere: “Whatever one man in any corner of the globe has thought out and expressed publicly should be regarded as a common patrimony of the entire human race and each group of people should feel free to appropriate and apply such thoughts [and their public expressions] to their particular circumstances, if it suits them to do so.”[40] Nevertheless, the variables of place and time make so much difference in actual human life that the appropriation and application of ideas and things from other persons and places cannot be done without proper evaluation of their suitability. A people cannot really develop on borrowed models any more than a bird can fly with borrowed wings. Ekwa nñta a-n’g’esh’ike n’ukwu (borrowed clothes do not fit).It is one thing for us to borrow general principles already elaborated by others and elsewhere. It is another for us to be mere consumers of finished Western products, worse still, of their poor Chinese imitations. We cannot meaningfully talk of development unless we make serious attempts to improve on what we already have and educate our people on the principles behind the things we borrow. A few examples may help illustrate the point being made here. One would have expected our agric engineers to ask some questions about how to improve on the very dangerous and inefficient rope (agb’) that has been used to climb palm trees in our area for centuries. The palm tree has been an important economic tree in our area. Maybe we are waiting for the Europeans who do not have palm trees, or for the Malaysians who borrowed palm seedlings from us some decades ago, to ask and answer this urgent question for us. In the meantime, we continue to lose precious lives of the climbers, whose rudimentary methods of maintenance of the ropes are not enough to guarantee their safety, especially during the harsh harmattan season. If any German had any idea about how to influence atmospheric conditions in such a way as to make it rain or stop raining on desired dates, at specific times and in designated areas only, we would probably have had “professors of rainmaking” sitting among us today; that is, if they would not have been in the Horn of Africa helping solve the severe problem of draught ravaging the area now, or somewhere else stopping the rains from causing destructive floods and inundations. Unfortunately, those who claim to have such knowledge are our own people and they seem to use the knowledge they claim to have only to disrupt celebrations. (There are claims too in some quarters that even some foreign road construction firms now engage their services.) Nobody knows exactly who believes these claims and who does not. What is certain is that for some celebrations in some months of the year, most of us are likely either to hire them or, with some unexpressed gratitude, pretend not to know when others do so on our behalf. That we jumped directly from the town-crier method of sharing information to the cell-phone is evident from the way we shout into that little piece of technology. Most of our people (whether they are the ones making or taking telephone calls, or are simply passing or standing by), are not aware that telephone conversations are supposed to be private. First, there is the loud sounding of the gong (ivom, ol’ebo – now the ringing tunes), then comes the public announcement (aje-e-e-e!). And although the mobile telephony in Nigeria is very inefficient, because of oversubscription on a fragile infrastructure, nobody seems to care. Indeed, most people will say that it is better than nothing. For without it, most Nigerians have no other means of telecommunication. Should the system collapse now (it is a miracle it hasn’t already), we have nothing to fall aback on.The word “malaria” is Italian in origin, a contraction of two words, mala aria, meaning bad air. The sickness was endemic in the Italian peninsula up till the period after World War II. Today, it no longer exists there, except it is brought back by a traveller from the tropics. In our case, we seem to have resigned ourselves to its incurability, until salvation comes from either Europe, America or, now, Asia. It is common knowledge that many, very many plants, on our soil are medicinal. Are our pharmacologists doing enough to discover, catalogue and synthesize these substances for better use? The political system we are running in Nigeria today is not working because it was designed for societies that are completely different from ours and took centuries of trial-and-error to arrive at the stage in which we found it. Rather than evolve a system from what we had already, or adapt the borrowed system to our exigencies, we have obstinately insisted on moving contemporary Washington, D.C. to Abuja, in the same way that we transplant models of houses from England, Scotland and Wales to Umuero, Umuosigide and Umushene, without any regard for geography or culture. Do our political scientists and philosophers really think that what we have now is the best or the only form of representative government in our present context? Have we nothing better to propose, or are we merely content with being considered a “democratic” nation by the rest of the world? Perhaps we expect our politicians themselves to “think out” a better system. Assuming that some of them are still able to think at all, they seem to think only about their personal interests. Given that the present system is to their advantage, with all the corruption and abuse of power that it permits, these same politicians who profit from the system are not likely to be the ones who will try to change it.“A t’ma,e kpor’” (contribute and collect) is a type of interest-free loan system that has existed in our area for a long time. It was life-saving for some local women during the war. Have our economists thought of how to develop that system into a Nobel Prize winning economic theory? Perhaps they are waiting for some indication from the World Bank. Metal craft was well developed in Umundu and in some other parts of Nsukka before now. Today, the industry has almost completely disappeared. Is there any possibility of reviving this and other similar industries? What help can our intellectuals offer to the expert potters in places like Nrobo and Umuezugwu-Imilike to codify their knowledge and art in a way that would make it easier to preserve and transmit? Whom are we waiting for to translate the sounds and beats of our local musical instruments into notes and signs in order to make it possible for anybody who wants to learn how to play any of them, to simply buy a “teach-yourself” book on it, rather than depend exclusively on reluctant local masters, who prefer to die with their art? Our intellectuals have to persistently ask similar questions in all the sectors of our life as a people, if we really want to develop.The issue at stake for Igbo Nsukka today is not whether or not we need intellectuals and intellectualism for our development but rather: Which intellectuals and whoseintellectualism will guide our development? So long as we keep answering only the questions asked by other peoples, we shall continue to produce what we do not consume and to consume what we do not produce. That is a recipe for dependency and underdevelopment, not a pathway to development. James Parkinson, Alois Alzheimer, John Langdon Down, Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, Andres Celsius, Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel, Louis Braille, Franz Anton Mesmer and many more have become part of our everyday vocabulary as we discuss health issues, education, temperature and transportation. The world is waiting for the time when Ona, Ugwu, Odo, Eze, Urama, Aleke, Ozioko... will make it to other languages through the ideas and discoveries of the intellectuals who bear these names. Nobody denies that some of our intellectuals have been working hard in their various fields. But the fire of intellectualism is yet to be ignited in our own area. Here, once more, I find the following words of Theophilus Okere, which he referred to the entire continent of Africa, pertinent: “Though we are all rational beings like every other human, it has not been typical of us to have a tradition of those who pursue the truth as a vocation and with that passion and finality that gives birth to sciences or the systematic application of sciences to solve daily problems, turning the habit of looking for shelter into the art and science of architecture or the need to settle farm boundaries into the science of geometry. So our underdevelopment is essentially an underdevelopment of the spirit, a failure to keep our most profitable tool employed.”[41]8. ConclusionWhen we hear about Adada, our minds are likely to go first to the stream, the natural Adada. There is however another Adada, perhaps now less known but also very much cherished in many parts of Igbo Nsukka, the ma,[42] which one may call the cultural Adada. I leave it to the religious and cultural anthropologists among us to educate us on the connection, if any, between the two types of Adada – the stream and the ma. One of the lastma Adada in Ibagwa-Aka, from the Echezema village, was also called “oshimiri,” probably because of its enormous size, but perhaps also for some other reason. I do not know how many streams in the Nsukka area bore or still bear the name Adada. But I know that therewas one in Ibagwa-Aka, which provided part of the water that was used in the construction of the University of Nigeria Nsukka. That Adada is gone! It has dried up! O kpoome! There is another in Nkpologwu which is being seriously threatened by deforestation and erosion.The traditional cultural Adada seems to have disappeared from most parts of Nsukka and the natural Adada is fast disappearing. Today, Nsukka intellectuals, like trained midwives, are assisting the birth of a new form of cultural Adada. It is my hope and prayers that the Adada Lecture series help revive and maintain the many enviable values and resources that God and our forefathers have bequeathed to us. For we cannot talk meaningfully about development if we are not yet able to maintain the good things we already have. A n’agood’n’ mb’, bia’gleg’ ebo (one has to count “one,” before counting “two”).Our culture is, however, not only about maodoomabeakatakpa and adada. It is not only about our funeral rites and marriage ceremonies (already deformed beyond recognition by igba-kwu and asebi). It is not only about our beautiful, vibrant, dances and appetizing dishes. Our culture is also about the way we grow our crops and preserve our food; the way we organize our social life and manage tension. Our culture is also about the way we educate our children. Our culture is, especially, about the values we cherish and how we transmit them to future generationsOur culture is what we make of all with which God has endowed us; what we make of our nature as humans within our particular environment and history as a people. What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gratitude to God and our contribution to humanity. Who will ask questions about which values in our culture are real values and which are only apparent? Intellectuals. Who will ask questions about how to preserve, purify and transmit our real values in a fast changing society? Intellectuals. Who will imagine better ways of doing old things? Intellectuals. Who are those day-dreamers who will invent things which others have so far thought impossible, discover vaccines for apparently incurable diseases, solve life-riddles considered insoluble? Intellectuals. Who are those who will find natural solutions to those natural problems which our people have up till now attributed to ogwu and mgbashi? Intellectuals. Who will figure out a system of social organization adapted to our circumstances, which will increase public participation in governance, restore social and political power to our women, check corruption and foster peace and security? Intellectuals. If all these are not development, Ladies and Gentlemen, I do not know what else is. Intellectuals have done and continue to do these things elsewhere. There is no reason to suppose they cannot do them here. No one is suggesting that intellectuals or intellectualism alone can solve all the problems of humanity or lead our people to the “promised land.” But without their input, we can only get worse, not better. The intellectual, of course, needs the hands of the labourer and the technician, the funds of the businessman, the decisional power of the politician, the prayer and admonitions of the priest, the support of all. Eka naa an’g’ eke ngwugwu (no one can wrap a parcel with only one hand).No intellectual among us should think that he or she can make it alone (ekp’r’onyene naa, esekpoteg’ ma adada). In our present circumstances, with the paucity of means and the indifference (sometimes outright hostility) of governments, the intellectuals need to work together if they hope to achieve anything and walk together if they wish to get anywhere. This does not mean that they have to agree on every issue. In fact, unanimity among intellectuals is suspect. I agree with Richard Hofstadter when he says: “The criticism of other intellectuals is, after all, one of the most important functions of the intellectual, and he customarily performs it with vivacity. We may hope, but we can hardly expect, that he will also do it with charity, grace, and precision. Because it is the business of intellectuals to be diverse and contrary-minded, we must accept the risk that at times they will be merely quarrelsome.”[43]Furthermore, it is not really the mere increase in the number of intellectuals in Nsukka that will promote development in the area, but rather the creation of an atmosphere, a mentality, that encourages the intellectual vocation for those who wish to undertake it and takes seriously the questions intellectuals ask as well as the answers they proffer. This, as I have noted earlier, is what I mean by intellectualism. A favourable attitude to intellectualism in Nsukka will make it touch and possibly rub off on the various facets of life in our area, leaving some of its fragrance. With the alarming increase in superstition and religious sentimentalism among our people, Christians as well as traditional religionists, we need religious intellectualism to help believers separate the grains from the chaff in their religious belief and practice. The distinction often made between faith and reason could lead to distortions. Human beings are religious beings only because and so long as they are rational beings. Faith is a rational act and cannot be required of irrational beings. To believe is to accept that someone or something has meaning or makes sense, even though one may not be able to explain how. “It is wrong,” says Okere, “not realize to what extent true religion is essentially a matter of the mind. After all, the very first commandment says that we should worship God with all our heart and our entire mind... The most profound and sincere homage we can pay to God and to religion is the homage of our African mind.”[44] It ought to be noted that the heart in Hebrew thought (as in most ancient traditions) is not the seat of sentiments but of knowledge and moral judgement. There seems to be a deliberate attempt by many of our people today to exclude the mind and the heart entirely from religion. This “mindless” and “heartless” religion of fear and superstition, of crowds and noises, degrades religion, breeds fanatics, enriches some ministers, impoverishes the people and keeps our land underdeveloped. We need religious intellectualism as a matter of urgency.Similarly, we need to inject sufficient doses of intellectualism into our political class and business community. We have so far had too many instances of half-educated persons and even stark illiterates “representing” us at the various levels and arms of government. Some of them, not content with enriching themselves and their political cronies alone, work against the interests of Nsukka and its people as well. Granted that this may be a question of moral probity and not just an intellectual issue, nevertheless, in the fight against moral decadence, intellectual education is a better ally than ignorance. With regard to trading and business, since Nsukka people have more intellect than cash, they have to use what they have in seeking what they do not yet have but would like to acquire. It is bad enough for young people to abandon affordable education because of their haste to make money. But it is even worse for the Nsukka youth who, in most cases, has no substantial capital with which to start and nothing to fall back on should he encounter some difficulty on the way.Oke soro ngwere maa mmiri, okochaa ngwere, o ga akochakwa oke? (If a rat jumps into water with the lizard, when the lizard gets dry, will the rat also be dry?) Kp’ma m’ishi g’a kp’r’ abede. A kp’ma g’ishi g’a kp’r’ abede, o j’ekweshi g’? (Are you asking to be given the same style of haircut as another got, are you sure it will fit you?). Some parts of Igboland may now feel that they can afford to shun higher education, because they have produced many leading intellectuals already (which is unfortunate). But some of these intellectuals are working hard and silently behind the scene and will someday lead their people out of the dark tunnel in which they now find themselves. The seeds of intellectual labour sometimes take long time to germinate, to blossom and to bear fruit. Nsukka people cannot take a break when they are only taking off. A plane that tries to land immediately after takeoff, will likely land with a bang!Nwa Nsukka’s greatest asset is his intellect; not just because he is a human being, but because Nsukka people are reputed to be very intelligent persons. Our boys and girls have the brains! One of my teachers in the Seminary, Msgr. Taddeo Onoyima always told me: “If God has given you intelligence, he has given you everything!” If we want to survive in this competitive world, we have to rely on this most important asset and distinguish ourselves by the use we make of it. Some parts of Nigeria claim to be the “food basket” of the nation, “home for all,” “centre of excellence,” and so on. Within Igboland, one could identify Enugu as the administrative headquarters of Igboland, Onitsha and Aba as the commercial centres, Nnewi and Umuahia as the industrial centres... And what is Nsukka?Would it be too much to propose that Nsukka becomes the intellectual hub of Igboland?We have the brains. We have the cool climate. We have the institution. What is holding us back? What do we lack? Not the money, but the will. The will to stop being helpless victims of circumstances and become masters of our destiny. The will to glorify God and enrich humanity with our best asset. The will to start proclaiming our worth and stop bemoaning our woes. The will to set high goals for ourselves and transform them quickly into new starting points. The will to use the divine power in us to subdue the earth rather than worship some of its intimidating features. The will to collaborate with God and make his image in us shine in all its splendour! We in Nsukka lack the will to excel, when God has given us all the means to do so, namely, richly endow intellects. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my humble submission today that if there is the will, intellectualism, well applied and with the help of God, is capable of making Nwa Nsukka and Igbo Nsukka “a chiwo, e kirig’de.”Nsukka deejeno-o!

[1] At the inauguration of the Whelan Research Academy for Religion, Culture and Society, Owerri on 20 May 2001, its founder and President Msgr. Dr. Theophilus Okere delivered a magisterial paper on “The Mission of the Intellectual,” which was later published in Theophilus Okere, Philosophy, Culture and Society in Africa: Essays, Nsukka: Afro-Orbis Publications, 2005, pp. 130-138. Just last year, two public lectures addressed the same topic. One was the convocation lecture delivered by Prof. Kyari Tijani of the University of Maiduguri on 28 October 2010 titled: “Intellectuals; Intellectualism and National Development – Nigerian Experience” ( And Prof. Ben Nwabueze devoted the first part of the first Dr. Alex Ekwueme Lecture, which he delivered at the Oko Federal Polytechnic on 21 October 2010 to the theme: “The Legacy of Intellectualism and Solid Education as Necessary Credentials for the Presidency in a New, Developing State such as Nigeria” ([2] Aristotle, De Anima, 429a10-429b4.[3] Theophilus Okere, “The Mission of the Intellectual,” p. 131.[4] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Ia, qq. 77-79.[5] Theophilus Okere, “The Mission of the Intellectual,” p. 131.[6] John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University Defined and Illustrated, edited, with an Introduction and Notes, by Martin J. Svaglic, Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1982.[7] Théophile Obenga, “Egypt: Ancient History of African Philosophy,” in Kwasi Wiredu (ed.), A Companion to African Philosophy, Malden (MA): Blackwell, 2004, p. 34.[8] Theophilus Okere, “The Mission of the Intellectual,” p. 131.[9] Richard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life, New York: Vintage Books, 1962, pp. 9-10.[10] Theophilus Okere, “The Mission of the Intellectual,” p. 132.[11]  Plato, Phaedrus, 279b-c.[12] Loren Baritz, The Servants of Power, Middletown, Connecticut, 1960, quoted inRichard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life, pp. 397f.[13] Irving Howe, “The Age of Conformity,” Partisan Review, Vol. XXI (January-February, 1954, pp. 7-33), quoted in Richard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life, p. 396.[14] Ben Nwabueze, “The Legacy of Intellectualism and Solid Education as Necessary Credentials for the Presidency in a New, Developing State such as Nigeria,”[15] Richard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life, p. 397.[16] Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, p. xiv.[17] Theophilus Okere, “The Mission of the Intellectual,” p. 132.[18] John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University, p. xl.[19] For a comprehensive presentation of Newman’s view on the University and the aim of University education, see Emeka Ngwoke, “Newman, Church, and University Education: The Catholic University and the Future of Nigeria,” a yet unpublished paper read at the Endowment Dinner for Stella Maris University, Port Harcourt, 23 July 2011.[20] Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, p. xii.[21] Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, p. 14.[22] Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum progressio (26 March 1967), 14.[23] Paul VI, Populorum progressio, 1.[24] Paul VI, Populorum progression, 12.[25] Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1981, p. 3.[26] Edward Said, Representations of the Intellectual, New York, 1996, quoted in Forough Jahanbakhsh, “The Emergence and Development of Religious Intellectualism in Iran,”Historical Reflections/Reflexions historiques, 30 (2004) 3, p. 769.[27] Theophilus Okere, “The Mission of the Intellectual,” p. 132.[28] See, for example, Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel: A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years, London: Vintage, 1998.[29] Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Vol. 1: Our Oriental Heritage, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935, p. 201.[30] Will and Ariel Durant, The Story of Civilization, Vol. 10: Rousseau and Revolution, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967, p. 898.[31] Quoted in Will and Ariel Durant, The Story of Civilization, Vol. 7: The Age of Reason Begins, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1961, p. 181.[32] Will and Ariel Durant, The Story of Civilization, Vol. 7: The Age of Reason Begins, p. 180.[33] Richard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life, p. 145.[34] Patrick Okedinachi Utomi, “The Education Apostolate in the Mission of the Church and a Prelate’s Stewardship in Onitsha,” in George E. Adimike (ed.), True Heritage: Reflections on Archbishop Val Okeke’s Pastoral Letter, “Youth Education: Our Greatest Legacy”, p. 30. Utomi cites as his source Steve Okecha, Nigerian University: An Ivory Tower with neither Ivory nor Tower.[35] Kyari Tijani, “Intellectuals; Intellectualism and National Development,”[36] Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, p. 14.[37] See Pita Ejiofor (ed.), Fighting a Monster: Declining Males in Schools, Enugu: Nolix Educational Publications, 1999.[38] Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, “Assorted Opinion and Maxims,” 98.[39] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and No One, “Of the Priests.”[40] Godfrey Igwebuike Onah, “A Concept of Man for a Developing Continent: A Search,” in J. Obi Oguejiofor, Africa: Philosophy and Public Affairs, Enugu: Delta Publications, 1998, p.181 (emphasis now added).[41] Theophilus Okere, “The Mission of the Intellectual,” p. 137 (emphasis mine).[42] I have argued elsewhere that ma is not mask or masquerade: “I am of the opinion that what traditional religionists regard as the symbolic and temporary presence of a being from the spirit world among normal human beings which is called ma has no equivalent in English language, nor in the Christian worldview. The English word “masquerade” means a person covered either for fun or for deceit. Although every Igbo adult (male or female) knows that there is a man behind every ma, and a lot of this man is covered, no adherent of Igbo traditional religion will accept the English concept that is applied to ma.” (See my lecture, “Culture and Inculturation in Nsukka Diocese: Towards a Faith that Become Culture and a Culture that expresses Faith,” First Nsukka Catholic Diocesan Synod, 13 April 2010).[43] Richard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life, p. 8.[44] Theophilus Okere, “The Mission of the Intellectual,” p. 136.


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