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24.03.2004 Feature Article

Letter From The President: Cut and Paste Inventions

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Countrymen and women, 'against' people and loyalists I am usually not in the habit of writing sequels. But events in the past week have compelled me to write a sequel to the letter I wrote about the army's folly in 'redesigning' a very well-made car and converting it into a uni-purpose vehicle which can only be used for just about 30 minutes in a year. As you may be aware, a conference was held in Accra last week on harnessing science and technology for national development. I opened that conference and I was glad I did. Even though I am not tech-savvy (controlling a mouse is even difficult for me sometimes) I believe that our country stands to gain a lot from investing and actively pursuing technologies that take the drudgery out of work and makes life easier and a bit more worth leaving. For example, as I said in my letter about the army's misinvention, I believe with every piece of marrow in my bones that we urgently need a technology which will stop us from using precious treated water to push the products of our abdominal evacuations into the belly of the earth. If we got a technology like that, hundreds of thousands of people will be supplied with potable, life-giving water, which many Ghanaians lack today. When I went to the conference centre to open the confab on 'harnessing science and technology for national development', I was appalled by some of the products which had been put on display as part of an exhibition attached to the conference. Jeez! I didn't know that Ghanaians were such 'copiatus' people. I though only Fiifi Mills was 'copiatus' when he shamelessly copied my People's Assembly idea and used it to quite good effect recently. Most of the so-called 'inventions' that had been put on display at the conference were copies of other people's inventions. A little boy (I pity him because I think his teachers have set him on a very wrong path) had on display a solar panel which produces electricity for home lighting. I don't know what mis-education his teachers had given him, but the boy is under the impression that he has invented something. I got even more annoyed when I got to the stand of the mechanical engineering department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Do you remember that the vice Chancellor of this University had to audacity to shamelessly proclaim his institution as the fifth best technological university in the world? I gave it to him very well when he opened his mouth so wide. And I am very proud that what I saw at the KNUST stand proved me right that nobody in this world can convince me that this university is in the same league as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I will only believe his assertions if God sends his son Jesus Christ, along with Mohammed, Budha, Confucius and Angel Gabriel to tell me that KNUST is among the top five in the world. The would-be engineers from the KNUST were proudly displaying something they claimed to be a farm transporter. Among its attributes, this machine is supposed to have a strong chassis to enable it travel on rough terrains to carry cassava tubers and cocoa pods from one end of the farm to the other. The transporter had an engine which seemed to have been made specifically for a 'nika-nika' and axles which seemed to have been taken from an old Datsun 120Y. That's not all, I saw the same would-be engineers from 'Tech' proudly displaying a 'car' they claimed to have invented. This car was made from an abandoned skeleton of a volkswagon, which had been re-welded and fitted with an engine, some lights and passenger seats. And they were very proud of their 'cut and paste inventions' –cannibalizing other people's inventions, re-assembling the canibalised parts and calling it an invention of your own. It's so shameful that it brings tears into my eyes. I hate to see that many of my people have become so 'copiatus'. We want a nation of true inventors not copycat 'inventors'. I think people are just failing to think very hard. Will I be wrong to suggest that the citizens of Sikaman are just content with canibalising products from 'here and there' and putting them together as their own inventions? Currently, we have a living legend in our midst, whose inventions have been approved and patented by no less a people than the British. His name is Kojo Abeka Jackson. He is a man I will very much like to meet and shake his hands. I believe that once I shake his hands, I might have some of his inventing powers transferred into my system and then you will see what I can bring out. But even before I meet him, I want all those 'cut and paste' inventors to go to Mr. Jackson and ask him about what it means to be an inventor. I believe that Mr. Jackson will tell them what they've put out cannot be considered as inventions. Mr. Jackson will tell the 'cut and paste' inventors that their so-called inventions will not pass any pre-patent tests in any part of the world. In fact, if the 'Tech' engineers take their car anywhere near the office of the Patenting Agency in the UK, I will not be surprised if they are arrested and publicly flogged for daring to present other people's inventions as their own. The spate of 'cut and paste' inventions should stop. But this will only happen if we develop the habit of taking a small pause before applauding anyone who presents a 'cut and paste' contraption as an invention. Why do we like clapping so much for mediocre achievements? Is it because our standards for measuring people's achievements are so low? Come on, let's raise the standards a bit and demand that our people present genuine inventions which can stand the patenting tests in any part of the world. If we do, I bet you most of the people who were parading around the International Conference Centre as inventors will bow their heads in shame. And the only one who will be worthy of our applause will be Kojo Abeka Jackson – a true world class inventor, born and bred on the hard Sikaman soil. Vehemently against cut and paste inventions, J. A. Fukuor [email protected]

J. A. Fukuor
J. A. Fukuor, © 2004

The author has 204 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: JAFukuor

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