A.B. Assensoh (Indiana University-Bloomington), is happy that Dr. Kissi (Edward) has placed President Obasanjo's "Useless Disciplines" metaphor in a proper perspective, similar to what Professor Rita Kiki Edozie and a few others have done so far without sound analyses:
Dr. Edward Kissi's excellent perspectives on the "Useless Disciplines" rethoric or syndrome are similar to the intellectually astute analyses by Michigan State University Professor Rita Kiki Edozie and a few others, except that toward the end, the former (Edward) did provide a few food-for-thought statements that would prompt most of us to empathize with President Obasanjo's "Useless Disciplines" assertion (or metaphor), especially if the Nigerian leader meant that those who study the arts, social sciences and the humanities (like their science counterparts) must also do their best to be "computer literate" (or, at least, be able to type even their own confidential reports, letters as well as school and publishable papers).
Of course, some of us may sometimes disagree with some of our intellectuals on certain issues. Yet, I still stand by a quoted statement that appeared as a blurb on the jacket of one of Professor George Ayittey's published St. Martins' Press books that, at least, he (as a writer) is bold in discussing openly or publicly issues that many African scholars or intellectuals (1) shy away from; (2) discuss privately behind closed doors, and (3) often whisper into receptive ears only, for fear of political or other consequences in some places on the African continent.
However, my own familiarity as well as sad experiences with many graduate (or postgraduate) African students on many campuses, including Tulane Unversity (New Orleans), New York University (NYU), Stanford University (California), Oxford and elsewhere do greatly lend a lot of weight to the noble quest for any African, who calls himself a scholar or an intellectual (a) to be computer literate; (b) to be able to, at least, type his or her own school or publishable papers, confidential letters; and (c) to be able to boot a compuer to read e-mail messages. I underscore these points (with a lot of emphasis) either to add to or to support what Dr. Kissi has brilliantly broken down in simple but very useful terms in his USA/Africa Dialogue posting #1208.
In my years as a graduate student, I also met many excellent students from African countries who, mostly, earned first class (or summa cum laude) and second class upper (or magna cum laude) degrees from leading African universities. Such brothers and sisters happily and excitedly arrived to do higher or postgraduate degrees. Sadly, most of these brothers and sisters could neither type nor boot even a computer to read their e-mail. Several acdemics from Africa, too, have often suffered from this "computer illiteracy" disease. I was simply amazed! In fact, as a former Journalist, who typed very fast, I became the volunteered typist for most of these postgraduate or graduate students from Africa; I typed so much of their work (day and night) that today, the stress has sadly added to my chronic lower back pains.
What I sometimes detested was when such a graduate (or postgraduate) student from Africa (who could neither tuype nor boot a computer) would turn around and tell those of us (overseas-educated graduate students) who could type that in Africa, we would be laughed at by university administrators and supervisors. Why? Because, to them, a true scholar or intellectual must not be a typist. Toward that end, I still remember an incident between a Dean somewhere on an American campus and a "mighty" visiting scholar (or academic) from Africa. I was taking the African scholar to lunch on that American campus, when we met the Dean coming from the cafeteria. Indeed, the visiting scholar (or academic) from Africa always insisted on being called Doctor, so the Dean said to him: "Doctor, did you get my message? It is important that you read it."
The visiting African academic or scholar replied: "Dean, where is the message?" The Dean answered, "I sent it to you by e-mail." The African academic responded, "Dean, you know I don't know how to open that thing yet..." The Dean countered, " To open what thing?" The visiting African academic (or scholar) elaborated: " Dean, I can't open the e-mail and read what you sent ..." At that point, the Dean smiled and told this "almighty" visiting African academic to go to the campus' computer lab for free lessons in how to use or boot a computer. "So that, at least, you can read your e-mail messages and type your confidential or private letters," the Dean added.
There was also a final straw. A relative of mine back home (in Africa) received his degree, with a respectable class. He complained that he could not find a suitable job, hence I asked him to see a member of Ghana's Parliament (M.P.), who studied in Louisiana when I was teaching there. The M.P. assured me that he desperately needed a good Assistant to handle some ofice work (or chores) for him for a handsome salary. On my prompting, my relative went to see the M.P., with his degree or diploma neatly wrapped in a large envelope. The M.P. needed someone, who could type. Therefore, upon his arrival the M.P. gave my relative a two-page paper and showed him a brand new P.C. (or computer). "Try to type that for me as soon as possible because I need it for a meeting this morning." My relative asked the M.P.: "Sir, how do we type on your thing?"
The M.P. told my relative, "Boot the computer and use the word processor." In fact, my relative did not know how to boot even the computer. My reative, who wishes to become a dentist, earned his degree in general science, not in history, sociology or anything in the social sciences and humanities. The M.P., in anguish for not employing my relative, telephoned and told me that my relative was useless to him, adding: "A.B., your relative can't even boot a computer, something that I learned in my first semester at the Louisiana University. He can't be useful to me. Please, help him to learn how to type or boot a computer."
Given the foregoing nuances, we can easily have "useless" citizens in all fields, not only in sociology or communications. Hopefully, President Obasanjo was either mis-quoted or his words were taken out of context, especially since his speechwriters and top advisers may include non-scientists!