Saturday, July 22, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Lagos State University in Photos, no. 1


THE SADOMASOCHISTIC SEDUCTIONS OF "SOFT" INFERIORITY COMPLEX
As long as the soft bigotry of low expectations (aka "soft" inferiority complex, SIC) continues to reign in and outside the academy, SIC will continue to use its seductions to kill the "spirit" of the mind. And just as in Roberta F's song, SIC will continue to strum the pain of the spirit of the mind with ITS OWN fingers, SIC will continue to sing the life of the spirit of the mind with ITS OWN songs, its own words, its own symbols -- while all along SIC SLOWLY kills the spirit of the mind. Arguably, "soft" psychology trumps "hard" physics: the former is harder; of what use is the latter without the former?


From: Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju <toyin.adepoju@gmail.com>
To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2017 12:49 PM
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Lagos State University in Photos, no. 1

Wow.

I came here to see if Moses would demonstrate the courage of his convictions even in response to what I expected to be a celebratory presentation by Toyin Falola. It is impressive to observe he has not flinched.

I would like to better understand Falola's response.

Also, if people are not reading in those institutions, I wonder why.

Memorable-


'I want us to cumulate.
And I want us to always answer the question based on one premise:
I went to school on the land confiscated from peasants; I went to school with the money collected from poor farmers. What do I owe the children of this poor people? In my own mind, I disconnect my own answer from how a system operates…that is, it does not mean I don't understand the system, but what can I do? I owe the people of Makurdi where I trained myself after my first degree—it was the library they built at Government College that truly began my serious education, that exposed the very limits of my first degree. I have to realize that what I owe Makurdi is not always the same as what I owe Benue State University which now occupies my old place.
TF'


toyin

On 22 July 2017 at 22:39, Toyin Falola <toyinfalola@austin.utexas.edu> wrote:
  1. All excellent points but context matters. I can remove Nigeria or Africa from what you say below and insert many US campuses, and they will fit!
  2. Dismiss my point no. 1 as I get angry if anyone says he is bad because there is a worse person. I cannot be corrupt because others are corrupt. So, don't take my point no. 1 seriously because comparative data on bad things make me angry as a person. I cannot beat my son because others beat their sons!
  3. You mentioned concrete below—multiply what you do by 100 and you will see the changes. 100 of us can change honors theses in the History Depts in many Nigerian universities. It is those 100 that I am always looking for.
  4. I took a small team to Nigeria to run methodology workshops….suppose I get 50 people a year!
  5. I have data to say that there are books, but only that folks are not reading them. I donated 5000 books to one university last year…are they reading them? I build E-libraries, comprising close to 200,000 materials, are they reading them?
I want us to cumulate.
And I want us to always answer the question based on one premise:
I went to school on the land confiscated from peasants; I went to school with the money collected from poor farmers. What do I owe the children of this poor people? In my own mind, I disconnect my own answer from how a system operates…that is, it does not mean I don't understand the system, but what can I do? I owe the people of Makurdi where I trained myself after my first degree—it was the library they built at Government College that truly began my serious education, that exposed the very limits of my first degree. I have to realize that what I owe Makurdi is not always the same as what I owe Benue State University which now occupies my old place.
TF

Toyin Falola
Department of History
The University of Texas at Austin
104 Inner Campus Drive
Austin, TX 78712-0220
USA
512 475 7224
512 475 7222 (fax)

From: dialogue <USAAfricaDialogue@ googlegroups.com> on behalf of moses <meochonu@gmail.com>
Reply-To: dialogue <USAAfricaDialogue@ googlegroups.com>
Date: Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 9:27 AM
To: dialogue <USAAfricaDialogue@ googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Lagos State University in Photos, no. 1

Good question. We need to do concrete things to ameliorate the situation, not gloss over it with platitudes. That's my point. I've done and continue to do concrete things in my own little way. Others are doing theirs. You're at the apex of "doing concrete things" and inspire all of us to do more than we're doing at present. But I don't think we help the situation when we throw around platitudes that we know to be disconnected from reality. I have read the undergraduate theses of several first class graduates as well as MA graduates in the social sciences and humanities who were awarded distinction by Nigerian universities. They cannot analyze their way out of a box, do not know basic research methodology, and their written English is, to put it mildly, heavily challenged. Does this bear any correlation to the picture you paint of LASU as a center of student academic excellence and innovation, great instruction, and well-staffed units in your brief note accompanying the photos? I don't blame the students; I blame institutions that continue to recruit and retain academics who are not interested in teaching, research, and mentorship, and instructors who simply see their position as just another way to make a living in a difficult Nigerian job market. 

On Sat, Jul 22, 2017 at 9:06 AM, Toyin Falola <toyinfalola@austin.utexas.edu > wrote:
A tiny question:
What concrete things can we do? It is that concrete things that all of us must reflect upon.


Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 22, 2017, at 9:02 AM, Moses Ebe Ochonu <meochonu@gmail.com> wrote:

Beautiful pictures from a beautiful campus. However, your over-the-top positive assessment of the university based on a brief visit, while consistent with your well known ideological project of showcasing the positive side of Africa, is tantamount to what Bill Maher calls the soft bigotry of low expectation. How many of these staff you speak of are committed to research and teaching? And how is LASU exempt from the widespread problems of poor research and teaching ethics, professorial impunity, ASUU tyranny, etc? And is LASU and UNILAG not the epicenters of "sorting." Are they free from the scourge of sexual harassment and sexual transactions in exchange for grades?

I realize that you're invested in a project of not criticizing or putting down African/Nigerian institutions and colleagues. That is understandable, given your extensive collaborations in multiple African universities. Some of us do not have such entanglements and the anxieties that come with them and are, moreover, past the point of caring about people's feelings. 

A whole generation of Nigeria's young men is being shortchanged and the country's future is being damaged and we must call culpable people out and criticize those deserving of criticism. We should not whitewash the mess or offer false or exaggerated praise in a patronizing manner. We diaspora Nigerians take offense when white people do that to us; we shouldn't do that to our continental institutions. Southern Nigerian universities do marginally better than northern ones, but they are riddled with the same problems that plague others. Nigerian universities have become incestuous national cake institutions where intellectual in-breeding, nepotism, ethno-religious insularity, and academic self-cloning reign and innovative thinking and interdisciplinary works are discouraged by academics wedded to formulaic, outmoded disciplinary templates.

We will tell the truth and refuse to be complicit in the ongoing collapse of public higher education in Nigeria. We're accountable to our conscience. This accountability is superior to any affinity we may have with colleagues and institutions back home.

On Sat, Jul 22, 2017 at 6:46 AM, Toyin Falola <toyinfalola@austin.utexas.edu > wrote:
In over 300 photos, I will bring to you the impressive campus of Lagos State University, Nigeria. The Departments are all well staffed, and the students are incredibly talented and energetic. The millions of African young men and women represent our future, and their abilities at imaginations and inventions are so extraordinary that we may not even know that we are witnessing a revolutionary moment. To those who speak ill of these young men and women, they should check their thinking processes.



Toyin Falola
Department of History
The University of Texas at Austin
104 Inner Campus Drive
Austin, TX 78712-0220
USA
512 475 7224
512 475 7222 (fax)
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