Timothy Kalyegira, the contrarian thinker, was invited to attend the movie premiere of “Queen of Katwe.” At the end of the day, he shared his thoughts, feelings and review of the premiere and made a few claims, and a central claim to the effect.
The country’s reaction must have, or did it really, surprise Kalyegira. Nonetheless, the country had an emotional outburst. But none, however, had any excellence to it. If we are to go by the counter-arguments, then Kalyegira will further go into a confirmatory bias mode. Because, the counter-arguments confirm his conclusions about Ugandans, Africans and the black race. But that’s an issue for another day.
There’s a skill gap in Ugandan society, it permeates even the higher institutions of learning. Our task going forward is to show how an intelligent man would have responded to Timothy Kalyegira’s claims.
For every argument to deserve the rights of being called one, it must have four main parts; claims, counterclaims, reasons and evidence. All arguments against Kalyegira’s review stopped at the counterclaim part. Some sunk even lower, they shot down the messenger and not the message. But let’s save the day and give a one point lesson:
“Dear Timothy Kalyegira. I read your opinion on the premiere of the “Queen of Katwe” movie and the conclusions you made. Whereas I share a few frustrations, for example the time management of Ugandans, having been a victim of the poor management, I also ask that we take the questions further and probe. Could it be that there are certain things that make Africans act this way? Could it be that the concept of time bring different meanings to different societies? Let’s pause on those issues and address a little later in this writing.
The central claim of your argument is to paraphrase your words; “the lack of mental and emotional depth, the lacklustre culture, the slowness, the childish sense of humour, the half-literate mindset, the mediocrity, the “maalo” that is our African culture.”
Perhaps we need to start asking some important questions: What is the definition of mental and emotional depth? Who sets the standards and who words the definitions? Is there an objective measure for mental and emotional depth? What about mental width? Could a lack in depth be made up in gains in mental and emotional width?
Assuming we had an agreed upon measurement of emotional depth. How did you arrive at the fact that there’s a lack of a mental and emotional depth in Africa? What was your scientific method of inquiry and investigation? Which tools did you use? Or did you simply use what you saw, what you experienced, your feelings, to arrive at these conclusions?
If a man went to America and was subjected to those rigorous security checks at the airports, wouldn’t he simply arrive at the conclusion that America is a very insecure place? But would his experiences be enough to draw conclusions about the whole American society? Wouldn’t he require some formal scientific method of inquiry to support these inclusions. Kalyegira, observation in itself can never form conclusions about society.
We also need to know, on what parameters do we compare and contrast cultures? What makes one culture superior to another? Is it enough to base on present conditions to determine the superiority of one culture over another? Or perhaps we could base on what different cultures have produced over time? Were you to compare an Indian culture to an American culture, you would probably side with the American culture? Yet, to many historians, you would have made a wrong choice. For, Indian culture has been the motherland of all cultures, all that we have come to know in other cultures had their origins in India. The same could be said about African culture. West African history can guide us here.
That you have visited countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda and observed the same patterns. Is that enough to confirm to pile blame on African culture? The question should then be; why do all post-colonial African states with the exception of South Africa all have similar patterns and trends? What could be the root-cause? Could it be that all we are seeing are simply symptoms of a bigger ‘problem’? How was the African society before the erosion of its culture by outsiders? Is it that Africans are now simply trying to be bad versions of “white men” instead of great versions of “Africans?” Surely, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, you would assume it to be stupid.
You say that Queen of Katwe and its mediocrity could add to the growing feeling among Europeans that their culture is under threat. But that’s putting Europeans on a pedestal. What about the Africans whose culture was eroded, destroyed and everything African came to be described as evil, as inferior. But on whose backs was the European society built? Show me a single European society that could claim progress without the arm or contribution of African society. May be Africa has been the man in the background actually creating the works.
Timothy Kalyegira, your opinion raises more questions than it attempts to answer. If it answers any, it simply scratches the surface and runs to conclusions. Without a scientific inquiry into African society, its history, its people, its interactions with the other worlds, it would be very immature and unrefined to make conclusions about this society. What we know about African society is very little. The present tells nothing about this society. One would have to be 2000 years in the past to understand African society. One would also have to be 1000 years into the future to judge whether African culture has been a failure, has been mediocre and has made no contribution whatsoever. The real contributions of a society, its people, its culture can only be objectively judged by the men of the future.
That said, we could take our conversations a little forward over a cup of coffee. Hope you can grab the movie and watch it to completion.