By Field Ruwe
If you want to hide something from a Zambian put it in a book. Unless they are to be tested, Zambians don’t read. They don’t read at home, on the bus, or on the plane. They suffer from bibiliophobia—a fear for books. Books remind them of the dreaded composition and comprehension. They remind them of math, physics and chemistry.
The sight of books depresses them and yet reading is the bedrock of our intelligence; it improves memory, increases creativity, reasoning skills, and builds self-esteem. It provides a glimpse into other cultures and places. Reading boosts one’s Intelligence Quotient (IQ).
It is fair to say that it is the lack of reading that has contributed to Zambia’s low IQ. In Zambia today, only a handful know and understand what is going on around the world. Many, some with college degrees, cannot write a simple statement on their daily life.
Our IQ as Zambians is among the lowest of the human species, says disreputable race and intelligence British psychologist Richard Lynn a man described by many as a white supremacist and an eccentric eugenicist.
According to Lynn, Africans have an average IQ of about 70 compared to whites with 100. He claims to have conducted the study in sub-Sahara Africa and concludes that the 70 IQ was the reason for the low level of economic development in black Africa.
Back in 1916, inventor of the Stanford-Binet IQ test, American psychologist Lewis Madison Terman proposed the scale for classifying IQ scores: Genius or near genius (over 140); Very superior intelligence (120-140); Superior intelligence (110-119); Normal or average intelligence (90-109); Dullness (80-89); Borderline deficiency (70-79); and Definite feeble-mindedness (under 70).
People with a borderline deficiency will function at an equivalent age of a young teenager. They are ignorant and are easily susceptible to addictions, Attention Deficit-hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), promiscuity, and mood disorders. This is the category in which Lynn has put us. He actually gets as low as 67 to definite feeble-mindedness (retardation).
The danger is that Lynn’s study is referenced by many psychologists around the world who treat him as an authority in the science of intelligence. His credentials allow him to sit on several editorial boards including that of the journals Intelligence and Personality and Individual Differences.
In Lynn’s book Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis the average IQ of Zambian adults is at 64! According to the book 152 Zambian adults participated in the test. Some tests were visual, some verbal. Examiners concentrated on reading, vocabulary, general knowledge and arithmetic. A score of 64 means the average Zambian is in the definite feeble-mindedness category.
Out of sheer curiosity, can any Zambian who took part in any IQ test between 1970 and 2000 please come forward. We would like to know what tests they took, where and when. Was it done with the authority of our government—the Ministry of Education? Did the president know about it? Was the National Scientific Research made aware?
I have never heard of Richard Lynn or other IQ examiners come to Zambia to do their dirty work. In actual fact many researchers have repudiated Lynn’s findings in sub-Sahara Africa, and accused him of intentionally ignoring Africans with high score by using selective data. The general conclusion is that his findings are distorted and greatly flawed.
The question is; what makes people like Richard Lynn treat us like we have nothing between our ears? Like we are retards on two legs? There are numerous reasons. Of course one such is that the findings are used to perpetuate racial stereotypes. They are used to justify superiority of the white race over us, black people. Many euro-centric researchers wish to maintain the IQ as the fulcrum of white supremacy.
Another reason, and perhaps the most important, is that we are ourselves to blame. The way we live, behave, interact, talk, and think; the buildings we live in, the roads we walk on, and the jobs we do; the things we like and dislike; places we visit; the way we treat one another, the way politicians treat us, and most of all our sour relationship with knowledge.
IQ is based on knowledge. Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something. It includes facts, information, descriptions, and skills most of which is attained through reading; the more we read, the more knowledgeable we become, the more intelligent, and the better the IQ.
It is the lack of reading that has left us ignorant at best. Ignorance is everywhere. Even those in the corridors of power are motivated by ignorance. They embrace ignorance and proudly take it to be knowledge. In parliament for instance, many law makers stick to their narrow impressions and views of various aspects of life even when it is clear they lack the knowledge of information in domestic and foreign affairs.
“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action,” dramatist and poet Johann Wolfgang once wrote. And writer Elbert Hubbard added: “The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.”
Ignorance exhibited by our leaders filters down to us and prevents us from progressing towards a society of thought. Many of our current leaders are entrapped in unintelligent, level 64, destructive and retrogressive politics of tyranny, tribalism, nepotism, apathy, greed, and corruption. They have no clue how to treat us as humans, and how to take advantage of our human capital—INTELLIGENCE.
We are all intelligent Zambians, each one of us. We have the ability to reason, plan, and solve problems that concern our wellbeing. The problem is that most of us don’t think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience.
We are not curious enough and yet curiosity is an important trait of genius. Because we don’t read, we don’t ask questions and search for answers. We do not appreciate new ideas, examine them and use them to our benefit. As a result we progress at a snail’s pace and our surroundings hardly change.
Lynn and others know this. They have seen the way we live. Our pastime is beer-drinking, dancing, watching soccer, roasting and eating meat, gossiping, and belittling others. Our surroundings are unkempt and our buildings shabby.
Lynn and his cohorts claim that the genetic and environmental conditions contribute to our low IQ. Could it be possible, therefore, that they draw some of their conclusions from what they see when they come in contact with us?
Let’s imagine for a moment Lynn travels to Zambia. He hires a car and drives to Chibolya. What would his impression be upon seeing sick-looking alcoholics drinking Kachasu (local illicit gin) and smoking marijuana outside dilapidated colonial structures some still featuring bucket toilets?
And if from there Lynn drove on Kafue Road into George Compound, John Lang, Chawama on a rainy day and saw damaged homes, flooded alleys and septic tanks sipping with excrement, what would he record in his diary?
What would he record if he drove on Cairo Road, ChaChaCha, Freedomway, and Lumumba Road and ended up in Matero, Lilanda, and Desai Compound, and on his way back drove through Mandevu, Marapodi and Chaisa?
And if from there he drove to Mungule village on his way to Mpika and Nakonde. Surely, wouldn’t he fly back to the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland where he teaches such garbage and tell the world he is right?
He would say what he has always said, that we have the lowest of the IQs. He would say that we live the life of a white person of 1950. It was in the 1950s that some houses in the Western world had outside toilets and bathrooms like we still have in Chilenje, Chiwempala, Wusakile, Twapia, and Matero. It was then that many, like most of the current middle-class Zambians, did not have fridges, washing machines, and hot water.
Actually, some researchers say that we live worse that the European of the ‘30s and ‘40s. It was during this period that Americans and Europeans experienced high levels of unemployment, poverty and sickness just like we do today. Major industries and mines collapsed just like ours and unemployment shot to the roof.
It was in the 1930s-40s that dictatorship became rampant because leaders like Benito Mussolini (Italy), Adolf Hitler (Germany), Joseph Stalin (USSR), and Hideki Tojo (Japan) had no democratic experience and had severe economic problems. They saw dictatorship as the only solution to prevent their fall.
Let’s admit it. Lynn is right to a large extent. We indeed are a people at the totem pole—at the bottom of humanity and our political leaders from the president down have no clue how to get us out. They do not know how to fight Lynn and prove him wrong.
I know many of my critics will say it is a personal responsibility of every Zambian to be intelligent. While I concur, I put the blame squarely on the president. More than a year in office, he is not propelling us to an intelligent nation. He is not utilizing our greatest asset—the human brain by shaping how we think and feel about issues that matter.
Presidents play an inestimable role in changing the thinking of a people. Kaunda coined “One Zambia One Nation” and we bonded as a nation. As for Sata, he doesn’t know where to start. He does not have the intellectual acumen and the inspiration to lift us out of the nadir and turn us into an intelligent society that can face and respond to the challenges of a technological world.
President Michael Chilufya Sata does not know how to optimize the intelligence of Zambians—period. He does not know that if he unlocks our intelligence he will be reducing poverty, hunger, and disease.
If he truly is committed to our advancement, he must change our country from a drinking nation to a reading one. This might be impossible for him to contemplate, but the secret of finding out what is at the top of the mountain is to climb it.
We must, individually and as a people, choose between fixing our IQ and being treated like unintelligent genera.
Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner, historian, and author. He is a PhD candidate at George Fox University and serves as an adjunct professor (lecturer) in Boston. ©Ruwe2012