By Okoh Aihe
They say necessity is the mother of invention. Cliché. Cliché can wear your life out with boredom but it does not ever tell a lie. Cliché oils so much of monotony in our life, to the extent, that one is pressured into taking a second look at his beliefs or forever live with them.
Living with them doesn’t seem to be a preferred alternative; it can mark the difference between a liberating feeling where knowledge is supreme and a hermetic legacy dwelling underpinned by unending ignorance.
Necessity and invention: Human beings and even animals react differently. Long time ago, watching on television a part of the world being bombed out by those who claimed to own it, through sheer brute force, a friend screamed, why are they doing this?
But another would respond immediately, why are you screaming? Don’t you know if this kind of adversity doesn’t happen, my company which has the technology to process water in this kind of environment would be out of business? Cavalier. Yes, cavalier doesn’t respect the truth which can be a painful needle pointed at one’s eyes.
Eneke, the bird, in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart reacts differently, Since men have learnt to shoot without missing, she too has learnt to fly without perching. And life goes on just by keeping safe. What about the tortoise?
Thrown into a bowl of hot water by way of summary execution for his usual impish malfeasance, the tortoise raised a song: hot water does not kill a tortoise, only very cold water can.
Hearing this, the executioners did a quick rethink and decided to finish him off by dropping him in a bucket of cold water. Predictably, the tortoise stretch his four legs as a sign of death, and the happy executioners quickly threw him into the bush only for the crafty rogue to commence another lease of life!
COVID-19 has dealt a crushing blow on the global community. Economies are wrecked. Countries are in pains and crying for divine providence and intervention. The hospitality trade suffered a major hit. Hotel are even now operating on very low capacity with gradual easing of movements.
The airlines doubt their existence today, not to even think of tomorrow. The beautiful history of yesteryears has been confined to the grave yard of memories. Life has become an apparition and quite a few people walk on the street beholding the mirage ahead as the reality of El Dorado. Yet quite a few other people are smiling to the bank.
Necessity and invention. Some years ago, a young man schooling in China just realized that there was a wedge of distance between him and the girl friend, and couldn’t imagine the pain of not seeing her regularly, instead of eternity measured in annuals and was thinking of a technology that could capture every moment of bliss on live video.
To see her face and a beautiful smile. Eric Yuan, the young student was cracking something big, which a few years down the line, would make the whole world to literally stand on his shoulders and look into their places of work.
Yuan got into America in 1997, at the age of 27, worked with Cisco for some years as an engineer and would proceed to inaugurate his video conferencing startup, Zoom Technologies in 2011, after some mild disagreement with Cisco over his own brand of video conferencing which did not appeal to his employers at the time.
It is the cautionary words of Achebe that those whose palm kernels have been cracked by benevolent spirits should be respectful and of good behavior instead of being indecorous. Yuan’s palm kernel was not cracked by any benevolent spirit but he emerged from that ordinary guy to one of the most powerful men in the world through hard work and sheer belief in audacious instincts.
The Zoom software was launched in 2013 and Yuan went on an aggressive business drive reaching out to customers even by himself as the chief executive. A future billionaire who was refused visa 8 times by the US authorities was doing the legwork, and the world hardly knew how important he was going to be to the global community.
The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Nigeria on February 27, 2020, nearly a month after the outbreak in China. By this time the rest of the world was already reeling in pain and confusion from a pandemic that mocked every human effort to bring it under control.
Few days later on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Unable to find a cure with all the technologies at their disposal, most of the world was on lockdown. It is dawn of a new normal and nearly every aspect of life would have to be handled from home or whatever place of refuge.
The ascendancy of Eric Yuan into a global super personality is nearly complete. Some little teen romance which of course graduated into marriage, has yielded some more unexpected fruits besides liberating the world from an unexpected full stop. ZOOM became technology of first choice in big offices including government offices where official meetings are conducted on ZOOM.
It is not unusual for a highly placed government official to brag that he is having a ZOOM meeting. Presidents are holding virtual cabinet meetings over ZOOM. As the world celebrated a liberating technology, Yuan was smiling to the bank with a fortune of over $17bn net worth, while ZOOM is valued at over $35bn.
There is nothing wrong in that at all. He challenged his brain to work and he hit a goldmine. Since December, according to Forbes, ZOOM usage has grown 1,900 per cent as corporate big boys like Samsung, Uber, Walmart and Capital One all use the technology.
Necessity and invention. Just as people were getting bored staying at home or getting too weary of available technology, another seemingly little one stole into the limelight in a much disguised way. TikTok. Just the name alone schools you that this is for the millennial and the very young at heart who don’t mind a little exhibition of their private life in video recordings embedded on telecoms technology.
Much of what the world has come to know about TikTok came to the open when President Donald Trump of the United States expressed national security concerns aboutByteDance, owner of TikTok, the Chinese company which operates from the US. TikTok allows users to watch, create and share 15 seconds video shot on cellphones.
TikTok, founded by another Chinese billionaire, Zhang Yiming, is a little concoction of Douyin and Musical-ly and is presently worth over $78bn. With people locked down and young generations trying to free the adrenalin running through their systems, TIkTok hit new heights. All that now is being pruned by a president who says TikTok must sell out to a national interest.
Necessity and invention. At this time in the history of our nation, the Nigerian government suddenly realized that the economy was going through a spin and decided to use the ordinary folks as wedge blocks. So one cruel morning, depending upon the side you are, the cost of fuel and power went through the roof and the people have been wailing.
The inconvenience is for an appointed time suffered by those who have no seat in the palace of leadership. Going a step further the government is also sending some angelic, special directors to be gatekeepers in high yielding parastatals to stem pervasive looting of much needed public funds.
How very smart! But nobody ever questions, how very successful were the procurement officers sent to parastatals and other government offices to stop the manipulation of procurement processes. And pray, where does manipulation start from?
So very ingenious. Necessity and invention. When you run out of cash as government, instead of putting on your thinking cap and dig deep to unearth lasting result to confront reality, you simply task the people until they don’t have the strength to pay any more or even live as humans. But darkness always recede at the approach of light.
Necessity and invention. Leo Stan Ekeh at his age still remains restless. While the world was atrophying under the weight of a pandemic, Leo Stan went into hibernation, building a Tech Experience Centre as a befitting contribution to trap the raw energies of the countries creative youth and expose them to the world out there, a world which accommodates all people of tech skills and creativity no matter their part of the world.
“We are creating a path in this country where state-of-the-art technology will be accessible to CEOs, CIOs, CTOs and other technology consumers, so that they can make prompt decisions without leaving the country,” Head of the Tech Experience Centre, Chidalu Ekeh said.
Those who may flock there at launch may not be aware that the Tech Experience Centre is the final resting place of a journey that spans Task Systems Limited, Technology Distributions and Zinox Computers, the first and only surviving brand of Nigerian produced computers.
The Centre is a befitting testament to the staying powers of a man who refused to succumb to failure in a very challenging business environment. Not kneejerk decisions to satisfy exigent needs, but a journey into the future. History has no place or kindness for a people that live for the moment. The colour of legacy can beautify the painful journey of departed heroes and reserve opprobrium for those who sold lies as reality.