THE GREY MATTER DOES MATTER
Drawing comparison between intellectual and material wealth, or other kinds of more temporal evidence of accomplishment, it is obvious that it is far better to devote more time and resource to the grey matter, which I love to call ‘the bank of the brain’. The intellectual wealth comes in different shades, but let’s say the more rigorous of these, with an inherent ability to outlive the purveyor, easily rebounds, and is more-lasting, should one be circumspect in ascribing everlasting, than any kind of wealth.
The opening paragraph is to help bring home and quickly, the message, that grey matter does matter. Let us not dabble into the biology and physiology about that body part, which is said to occupy about 40 percent of our brain. Nevertheless, we would devote this discourse to the evidences and outputs from the workings or application of that part of our body.
In the growing social and economic trends, in not just Nigeria, but across the globe, the attraction for downplaying the grey matter and all that has to do with exercising that part of our body has been on the increase. Or do one say, has become the in-thing, the going trend, the vogue!
This explains why the majority or many more people conveniently find it ok, albeit without questioning to follow the bandwagon of those who see intellectual engagement too daunting, unrewarding, and too slow, when it does payoff. Many would rather see role models in celebrities or those who have attain fame and fortune without the need to deploy, and intensely, the grey matter.
The rigor of exercising the grey matter of course is not funky, and would rarely be an easy attraction or love at first sight for a good many. We have many in religious, spiritual, fashion, business or indeed other less grey matter engaging circles with lots of fame and fortune, who have had to jettison any professional or pastime pursuits that require them exercising rigorously their grey matter. Looking at the Nigerian-scape of who-is-who, there are an endless numbers of pastors and celebrities who ran away from academic engagements or professions that require them exercising their grey matter and have turned out to be materially wealthy and famous. Many of these have followers in millions of hapless souls, who are daily trooping to their gatherings. These boisterous leagues of temporal achievers have become yardstick to measure success and patterning life to the collective loss and shame of our nation and humanity. A good many have always encounter the alibi that one does not have to go to school, be educated, or indeed on a personal or professional calling get to engaged one’s grey matter to make it in life.
In that pattern becoming fashionable, even supposed educated have taken to relegating the need to exercise their grey matter. It is common these days to hear a graduate say they would rather count money than read more books. A literal translation in Yoruba better conveys the message – Owo ni mo fe ka, kin se iwe. So much so has the need to engage or exercise one’s grey matter become so unappealing that hardly would one tell the difference between a schooled and unschooled Nigerians? All that evidences of having been schooled is lost on many once they are out of school and have a certificate to show for their sojourn within the four walls of a school.
While many are being fooled by the perceived trendiness of the anti-grey matter engagement style, many of their heroes are engaging in pseudo intellectual activities to chore-up their credentials. We now have many a late-converts, laggard adopters who after popularizing lifestyles that have made the love of knowledge or intellectual engagement less appealing, turned up to show off their new found love of intellectual prowess. Many among these have also gone to become founders of universities and academic institutions. What a sacrilege!
More bizarre is the trend to show case intellectual prowess, which is done largely through the back doors, ghost writing, churning out literary concoctions with content, styles and renditions that are stale, unimpressive and uninspiring. And concoction in that manner when Nigerians describe an improvised meal! Tasteless and unappealing to the taste buds, but must be consumed for the lack of alternative.
We have even had other unique leagues of liars and pretenders. Do you want me to mention names? The former head of the Nigerian stock exchange and the long adulated fraud of the Nigerian internet inventor come to mind. Even the Nigerian ivory towers are not exempted from the league of pretenders. Many a lecturers; some who have gone to become professors, do not pretend about their disdain for engaging the grey matter. I remember that absurd statement from a supposed professor running down a masters’ student – telling her, her graduating is not all about what she knows, but her willingness to bend over backwards. These leagues of pretenders have wrought more havoc on the Nigerian educational standards than the poor funding and lack of access to needed facilities. Lecturers who rather than inspire demotivate students.
To conclude this discourse, we should not shy away from encouraging the bands of easy followers to learn to look deeper. They should ponder on the missing icing on the cake of accomplishments of their supposed role models. No matter the allure of fames and fortunes that come without engaging ones grey matter, the worth of that bank of the brain cannot be underplayed. For the lots still looking for inspiration to reawaken their love for knowledge, they should look no further than the Nigerian wealthiest man – Aliko Dangote – who also has joined lately the league of intellectuals with his premier commentary on project syndicate.
Written By Taofeek Ramat