The Historical Renaissance
The world has witnessed The Renaissance era, one which no one alive today witnessed but whose impact lives on. It followed the Middle Ages spanning the period 14th – 17th century. It was the bridge to modern civilisation. This era was characterised by a defining arc of Euro-centric rediscovery and rebirth of philosophy, politics, literature, art, economy, and culture. Great thinkers and scientists with unrivalled legerity of mind emerged in this era, laying a solid philosophical foundation for the first industrial revolution. The Renaissance geniuses included Leonardo da Vinci, Rene Descartes, Galileo,Nicolaus Copernicus, William Shakespeare, Michelangelo, among others. COVID-19 has given the current generations another renaissance moment, one that is exploring opportunities in the digital economy and the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The New Renaissance
Any philosophical discourse against the backdrop of the century’s hitherto unchallenged disruptor which is the COVID-19 global pandemic distils key lessons for any listening ears. One would be excused for believing that the great discoveries made during The Renaissance marked the tipping point of human ingenuity. No! We now know that all this achievement was work in progress, setting records to be broken in an ever-expanding universe. A post-COVID renaissance will prove the truism that records are temporary, all set to be broken. Progressive and pragmatic work culture gets rejuvenated in a deep consciousness of the eternity of unfinished business.
Excused the worst rage of the ravaging pandemic, could Africa witness an equivalent Afro-centric rediscovery for a post-COVID renaissance?
By September 8, 2020, Africa’s recovery rate had risen to 80% with a case fatality rate of 2.4%. This performance was better than the global average of 71% recovery rate and 3.3% case fatality rate. Africa had by this date registered 1.3 million cases against the global total of 27.5 million cases. With 4.7% of the global COVID-19 cases, Africa was by this date claiming only 3.5% of the global case fatalities and 5.3% of the global recoveries, still a sterling performance skewed in favour of Africa based on these reported cases. Kenya’s recovery rate was by this date 61% with a case fatality rate of 1.7%.
The Liberating Silence
COVID-19 draws us to a point of stillness and silence for a reset and restart. A silence dedicated to active listening is liberating, but a silence that quietly ignores lessons only feeds ignorance. When the whole story of the disruptive global pandemic which is COVID-19 will be fully told, great students of history will be the greatest beneficiaries of its lessons. The youth and the aged alike have got a huge opportunity to rethink the future of work, education, and leadership.
Valedictory IBD Message to the Youth
To understand the development and effects of COVID-19 is to understand countries and cooperation, digitalisation and distance learning, hospitals and hospitality, lives and livelihoods, markets and manufacturing, platform business models and pipeline business models, proactiveness and procrastination, production and politics, recovery and resilience, research and reinvention, safety and security, social discrimination and social distancing. To harness the full potential of a post-COVID renaissance, the IBD Series has an educative message for the youth, being the demographic favourably positioned to transform the world.
- History is rich in examples of personalities who applied their legerity of mind to transform the world by defying the limiting and self-imposed boundaries of formal school subjects. Johannes Kepler enthusiastically described mathematics as the language of rational order in creation. Michael Faraday, among the few who Albert Einstein recognised, only received 13 years of formal education then accomplished the rest under homeschooling and apprenticeship as a bookbinder. Thomas Bayes was a Presbyterian pastor, but to date, he is better known for Bayes Theorem in statistics. Isaac Newton was a professor in natural philosophy, an expanded study of nature and the physical universe; he is today better known for breakthroughs in mathematics and physics. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, a polymath, spoke many languages and made key contributions in mathematics, physics, logic, ethics, and theology. Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss, a wunderkind — child prodigy — was a prominent mathematician and physicist.
- Love for knowledge as a virtue was the common denominator for the timeless legends above. They did not identify themselves as “exclusive subject owners” who erect boundaries and are reluctant to seek or entertain opinion from other disciplines as we do witness among today’s intelligentsia. To almost equal depths, they were immersed in philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, history, and the service of humanity through various occupations. Who are their equivalent today? They are youthful and liberated minds which embrace systems thinking to understand the non-linear, dynamic and irreducible interactions in nature. Education in the post-pandemic era needs to reclaim its lost glory and intrinsic meaning as a lifelong commitment to the pursuit of progressive knowledge and liberating truth.
- Under the right lens of understanding and reasoning, the ravaging pandemic can be a lesson in youth talent and skills development, complete with the resilience to remain relevant and competitive in a rapidly changing technology marketplace. The youth must now advance their curiosity about thought-provoking questions on how to ignite their creative genius and foster productive collaborations on all fronts to deliver a better post-pandemic world. Nowhere is such collaboration needed more than the borderless and democratic space of scientific research and creative genius. To achieve this, mentorship is key.
It is high time all youth led by example. To all youth out there, beginning from Kenya, where this youth mentorship agenda under Impact Borderless Digital (IBD) was conceived, demonstrate your active involvement by sharing here what you will do different for a better post-COVID world. Remember, the core values of IBD remain excellence, diligence, and intergenerational responsibility.
Nashon, a geospatial expert, lecturer and trained policy analyst applies dynamic models to complex adaptive systems. He is a youth mentor on career development and the founder of Impact Borderless Digital.