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Our Diversity: Our Strength

January 31, 2014

By Crouching Tiger

From primitive times, we have prided ourselves with our prowess in fishing, hunting, farming, etc. These have survived through the ages, as in many rural African communities, we still give honor to the farmer who harvested the biggest tuber of yam in a farming season, the hunter who caught the biggest bush meat or caught a big python or alligator with his bare hands, or even the fisherman that caught the biggest fish.  In the wider modern world, some of these tests of our skills or gifts have evolved into different sports that people go through a lot of physical strain to train to the required level of perfection to be found worthy of being shortlisted to compete, and hopefully, win national and international honor and fame.

Man is very competitive by nature; hence, titles have evolved to honor those who have been outstanding in almost every field of human endeavor. We take pride in being the best graduating student in our class, having a first class, being the world record holder for the one hundred meter race, world boxing heavy weight champion, winner of the Noble prize for Physics, etc. However, have we in our pride as humans, found time to look at our competitors? Are we really the best out there in terms of these skills we take so much pride in? A look at some animal record breakers may give a different perspective and probably humble us a bit.

The Rhinoceros Beetle is considered the world’s strongest creature. It can lift up to 850 times its body weight. A man with this relative strength would be able to lift some 65 tons (59 metric tons). Such a person can serve as a human crane. Note that our world champions in weight lifting have lifted a maximum of under 300kg in any single category.

The Spittle Bug holds the record for high jump. It is about 0.2in in length, but can jump up to 28in into the air. A man with this relative ability will be able to jump to the top of a 70 storey building. Our world high jump champion jumps way less than 3 meters.

The Bar-tailed Godwit holds the marathon title. In 2007, it flew for nine straight days, from Alaska to New Zealand, without stopping for food or water. It covered 11,500km and lost 50 percent of its body weight in that journey. Our marathon champion prides himself with 42.2km.

The Peregrine Falcon can attack its prey at speeds of 322km/h or 89.4m/s. This bird can cover 100 meters in 1.12s. Usain Bolt runs this in a little above 9.5s.

Great White Sharks have a remarkable sense of smell. They can detect a single drop of blood in 100L of water and can sense tiny amounts of blood 5km away. A man with this ability can serve as a centrally located super safety device, e.g. smoke detector, in a circular estate with a 5km radius. Such an estate will have about 121,000 houses assuming 650 sqm per plot (Lagos State Standard). I can bet that there are smaller cities in the world.

Spider’s silk is one of the strongest materials known to man. It is five times stronger than steel (weight per weight). Today, we build hundreds of storeys high with steel, but can only imagine how far we can go with a material this strong, if only we can find a way to exploit it.

The Bald Eagle can see a moving rabbit nearly a mile away. The phrase ‘eagle eye’ comes from this ability of eagles.

Having looked at some of the feats animals perform and realizing that we are just beginners relative to them, how come man is at the top of the chain; the center of our world as we know it, doing as we please? I have asked many people this question and they all gave the same answer- man is more intelligent than the animals. I agree that we are a lot more intelligent, but from experience, is the most intelligent always the most successful? An absolute no! I thought deep, long and hard before I found an answer –DIVERSITY!

There are different definitions of this very powerful concept but I will use that by the University of Oregon which states:

“The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences.  These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.  It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual”.

It is simply our ability to work together, leveraging on each other’s strengths irrespective of our differences to achieve our set objectives. A lion will never work with a goat, neither a cat with a mouse. Little wonder companies always look for team players. Managers are often those who can work with everybody the most and achieve the best results without necessarily being the most knowledgeable. Our innate ability to work together; our diversity, has brought us this far. We should therefore, keep looking for ways of exploiting it for the good of all.

To paint a clearer picture, let us look at a different scenario. Imagine if the course of evolution had been different and the animals had developed to learn and speak each other’s languages. In prehistoric times, the animal would have lived in some jungle. The Eagle would have mounted sentry on top the tallest tree. If the Eagle can see a rabbit that is about 8in on the average 5km away, it can see a man a lot more than 10km away. It can then tell the soldier ants and bees that the men are coming from say, the north gate. The bees will attack and scatter the hunters for the snakes, lions and Crouching Tigers to feast on. Remember, man at this time would have had clubs and bows and arrows as weapons, so the eagle would have been very much out of range. It might interest you to know that even with our best rifles today, the eagle would still have been way out of range. The record for the longest range rifle kill is 2.8km and was binoculars assisted.

It is obvious with this simple scenario, that the story of evolution would have been different. Humans would have probably starved and would have been subjugated by the animals. We would have been used to do menial labor. Today, we probably would have been measuring power in units of manpower, black man power, white man power, woman power, etc instead of horsepower. Furthermore, the Lions and Tigers would have been having human limbs for dinner as we have chicken wings and thighs today.

Many developed countries have long recognized the power of diversity and have been tapping into it. The US and Canada (just to name a few), have programs in place that tap into this by attracting the best minds in the world and creating a nurturing environment for them to flourish. I am therefore saddened that Nigeria, being one of the most naturally diverse countries in the world, with over 510 languages and probably as many tribes is still this backward. Instead of nurturing and exploiting our diversity, we have failed to accept and respect each other; we play politics with everything and keep pursuing ethnocentric agendas, voting along tribal and religious lines, nepotism holds sway and some people believe that it is their right to rule in perpetuity even without any noteworthy antecedents. In all of this, I am now forced to wonder, whether diversity; even though in the general evolution of man, has been a blessing, in Nigeria, has it been anything but a curse?

From → General

  1. Ugo permalink

    Like most Nigerians,i’m quick to console myself that “we’ll get there” but how much effort are we putting in to get there? It still amazes me that we refer to people from other tribes in very offensive names like “ofemmanu”, ajeokuta mamuomi, ndi nmou without remorse. Maybe….just maybe if there are laws against discrimination of any form and offenders are brought to book, we will be able to manager our diversity better. Nice piece by Crouching Tiger as always.

  2. Iphy permalink

    I jux believe Nigerians nd Africans are yet to explore the advantage of Unity in diversity. We all know that d Native Americans (The Commanches, Lakota Dakotas, Mohawks Ojibwes, seminole onadaga…etc) settled in America b4 d British, french, germans e.t.c….and I knw how d red indians suffered in d hands of d so called “White Americans”, the bloodsheds, the death of over 50,000 native children in residential schools, the rewriting of history to “White’ wash America. What about the Black Americans, it was like a taboo for a Black to sit with a White american, they sucked it up, sacrificed a whole lot to get to where they are now, look at them today, they av a freaking black president, who woulda tot of dat? Now Red indians, Blacks nd whites all come together to make life changing decisions in America. I don’t really see such a thing happening in Nigeria though, we are too focused on unnecessary things, everybody wants to be in power, selfishness has blinded us from seeing reason, Everybody is interested in putting some1 from their tribe/Religion in power, our way of thinking will nt allow us move forward, I know of a yoruba man who killed his own daughter because she got pregnant for “Chuckwudi, the mannerless Ibo boy”, Another man will never be caught dead with a Benin Employee, he said Benin people are “Too wicked” with people like this in Nigeria we can’t really move forward nd accelerate even if we take lessons from Usain Bolt. There will always be discrimination against Cultures/Religions. I won’t call Diversity in Nigeria a Curse, but a Blessing that is yet to be Tapped into. Wheeeeewww, I rest my Case.

    Thanks once Again Crouching Tiger….

  3. summor permalink

    Nice one,we will get thr sumday.guess we as individuals need to change our dispositions to certain things.we r d change we need.

  4. kelvin permalink

    Africa and the middle east remians the hot bed if intolerance. Until we start accepting the fact that every individual is unique just like every tribe or race is, our diversity will remain a course rather than a blessing the way our maker intended it to be.

    Another brilliant and indebt write up by the crouching tiger.

  5. Uyi permalink

    U will never seize to amuse me with ur articulation. Just when I thought this was different, that you where teaching only, u eventually asked the deadly question. I am glad u proferred solution just before d question. “Our diversity is a blessing”. It is only a problem now in 2 key areas: Politics and Religion. I strongly believe “proper” and “far-reaching” re-orientation would change everything.

    Your areticles are always “very” informative. A nice read I must say. Keep it coming.

  6. Minaj permalink

    Neither a blessing nor a curse. It just is what it is. How people choose to interpret and make use of the diversity is a different question. Despite the fact that we are fractured into many culture groups and linguo-groups which can easily be an educational
    advantage to us, people continue to see this as a plague and as ‘division’ rather than diversity’. However I believe that every negative is a plus in disguise.

  7. Ebiz579 permalink

    Once again, another incisive analysis of the topic by Crouching Tiger. Of particular interest to me is the comparison of the abililties of the “lesser” animals to their “superiors”, Man, on a normalised basis. Even though Man has been beaten to it in terms of achievements in the diversity areas outlined by the author, Man has the unique abiity to tame a good number of them and even obliterate the “lesser” animals using his ingenius thinking abilities and inventions! For me, therein lies our “strength” in diversity!

  8. Ruby permalink

    Brilliant piece! I love d juxtaposing of how animals would have run d world against hw we do it now…calls for hard thinking. All Nigerians should read this…insted of our differences dividing us, they should unite us. #will nevr frget.

  9. Enny permalink

    I believe diversity in Nigeria is a blessing yet to be recognized. As soon as our leaders and we as individuals begin to appreciate and leverage on it, we can only reach for greater heights.

  10. Tracydabul permalink

    The minute we start realising our gifts putting it to good use, that’s the day Nigeria will Change for the better.

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