A few may say that Kenya does not need her own space agency, but Kenya Space Agency will inspire a whole generation of Kenyan scientists. It will make the black man proud. Read on.
Science, in its strictest sense of Physics, Chemistry and Biology and their numerous branches from Particle Physics and Quantum Mechanics to Cosmology, Astronomy, Ecology and Climate Change to Psychology, Economics and Sociology is the engine that drives the world.
Science has changed humanity from being a people enslaved in religious dogma, superstitious bigotry and mythical conundrums to becoming a people who can use reason, empirical investigations and nature oriented explanations for phenomena to improve the human condition.
For example, it is the progress of science that improved the human lifespan from 30 years in 1800s to 70- 80 years by 2000 and beyond; and science is still hard at work to increase human lifespan to clock 120 years. Actually, in the next two or so decades, a 120 years old will not be a grandpa but will be the new 60. This is why I am always pained when citizens, religious leaders and politicians meet at prayer breakfast to pray over shrinking economy, catastrophic accidents and acts of terrorism mostly caused by inept governance.
Even though science has been busy changing human condition in the past 400 or so years, Africa still accounts for less than 30% of the scientific activities. A black African is yet to receive a Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry or Biology. Game changing discoveries and inventions in mainstream sciences are yet to be made in this continent by a black man. This skewness has made many Africans believe that greatness in science and technology is a preserve of white skin, and that our place as black people is to worship their gods and holy ghosts as we continue to consume the goods made by use of processes invented and perfected in their white man’s land and brains.
But I do not want my son to grow in an environment where he doesn’t see any immediate connection between science and a black man or woman. I do not want my son to grow with a mind tuned to praise a white man’s technology as most of my friends have been tuned. I have been told several times by close friends and work colleagues to respective automated processes, or not to bypass particular processing stages e.g. in bread making or sugar manufacturing since the white man who invented those processes are not stupid. Mzungu riek or loosely translated “the white man is clever” has been forced down my throat, and in many instances I believe this personality demeaning statement as, I hardly get hard evidence for a black man’s contribution in modern science and technology.
When I look around, I mostly see a black man contributing to the downfall of his fellow black man through bad governance, implementation of inefficient systems and policies, inability to adapt current technologies, and outright corruption.
But there are those who want to change the mindset that Africa can’t. They for example want to send a black man to the moon, even if it is not for making any ground breaking discoveries but solely to inspire the black African child that science and technology is not a preserve of white Europeans, Americans, Arabs and Asians. If you lack any reason to support the Africa2Moon mission that will stream the moon landing experience to classrooms across Africa almost in real time, then do it for your child, or your future child if you currently do not have one- a child I confidently believe you do not want to live in a society that forces him or her to feel inferior. And it is for the same reason that we should sing praises of hallelujahs and hosannas to the news that the Kenyan Cabinet approved the creation of Kenya Space Agency.
According to the news, when Kenya Space Agency comes to force, it will take over the operations of the San Marco (Broglio) space monitoring station at Malindi. In addition to the Agency helping with exploration of minerals, advancement in Agriculture and better prediction of whether, the Agency will spearhead the Kenya space sector road-map that would render Kenya a pacesetter on the global space technology scene.
Those are not the reasons I am so excited. I am extremely excited because I understand how space exploration will impact on other branches of sciences from quantum and particle physics to genetic engineering and biotechnology. For example, for the Kenyan scientists to make formidable discoveries in outer space, they will be forced to increase their understanding of the subatomic world hence pay more attention to particle and nuclear physics – they will have to play closer attention to computer science, analytical chemistry, bioengineering, and all the other branches of sciences. These fields of study have wealth of discoveries waiting to be made. Biotechnology for example has set itself to be the next technology frontier where exponential growth and innovations will take place.
For them to create impacts in Agriculture, they will need to pay closer attention to environmental sciences like ecology and forestry – branches of science that the politicians have demeaned in the years past.
They will be forced to collaborate with existing Universities and Research Institutions in the establishment of advanced research labs, forced to recruit more young Kenyans to collaborate with them in their research works, and in this way affect a whole generation of Kenyans into becoming better well rounded scientists of world class calibre.
If for any reason there is a silly head who wants to derail the formation of Kenya Space Agency, we should identify this head and cut it off. If there is a head that as usual has earmarked this project as a cash cow, we should likewise identify it and cut it off without apologies.
Kenya Space Agency, be formed, and make us informed.