“Several hundred years ago, Africa was green, fertile, and flourishing. During the intervening years, the MAAFA occurred. When the world was in chaos, many ‘natural’ disasters visited our people. Our lands were dry, our people were thirsty, and our societies were weakened. Our people then regrouped and planned and strategized. They made water the utmost priority in order to not only survive but to also prosper. They knew of a great watering hole that was located very, very, far away in an area that was once a part of their land. It was located in the middle of the same vast natural and cultural desert that had encroached upon their land and had been taken over by enemies. A major oasis had been formed around the watering hole, which was controlled by their enemies. But our people were clever. They trained a small group of talented boys and girls to become experts in their society’s knowledge of hydraulic engineering. They knew that the enemy had great knowledge of transporting water and were willing to trade water for other goods. The young people had a singular mission: to go as a group to the watering hole, learn as much as they could and then create a system for getting a supply of water to their homeland that would last for, at least, a dozen generations. The young people learned well. The mission was to be long and very expensive. The people were heavily taxed for many years in order to finance this mission but gave willingly for they understood the importance of the mission. They knew that the future of their society depended in great part on the success of the mission. The people spared no expense in outfitting, stocking, and preparing the youth for their mission so when they departed, they successfully traversed the long and treacherous desert and reached the watering hole without problem. The enemy immediately recognized the talents of the youth and invited the youth to study with their master professors. They charged a very high tuition, however. Life at the oasis was extremely different from life at home for the African youth. Everyone lived well, ate well, dressed well, and had a high standard of living, even the peasants and former slaves. No one had to worry about the basic necessities of life and everyone had access to the latest technology and many forms of entertainment. The rich people at the oasis had all the luxuries that could be imagined as well as an incredible number of possessions. They had stores of currency so vast that no one could accurately count them, not even the brilliant African youth. At the school, all the students, including the African students, had human and technical servants. They studied and worked only four days a week and dined daily on rich foods and wines imported from the homes of the oasis owners. The other students greatly admired the Africans, who they considered exotic, and regularly sought their company. Despite these distractions, the African students were still the top students in the academy. They met weekly to study and to discuss the implementation of the major part of their mission. After a few years, their studies at the academy in the desert were complete. At their graduation, they all received scholastic honors and were among the few students to earn full scholarships and fellowships to continue their studies for additional years. Each African student was offered a fellowship in a different subspecialty of hydraulic engineering. At their weekly meeting after graduation, they had a long discussion about whether they should accept the fellowships; because if they did it would delay the completion of their mission and delay their return home. Although none of the students had visited home during their years of study, they had all received news that the conditions had worsened and the climate at home had become increasingly arid. The news was verified by the oasis’ satellite which regularly predicted climactic conditions. It also gave information regarding the location of deep crust water tables, indicating that several major water tables were located under their homeland. Mining and extracting was from such low water tables was at an experimental stage and the environmental effects of a massive extraction effort were unknown. Most of the students would be conducting experiments on some aspect of this new field if they stayed and accepted the fellowships. The discussion was heated but in the end, the African students reached a consensus to continue their studies. The rationale was that they had been told to learn all that they could while at the academy. They reasoned that the higher level of knowledge wold make each of them a specialist in his or her area and specialization was the direction of the future in their profession. They asked, why be a skilled generalist when one could be a well trained specialist? The years passed quickly and the African students completed their specialization studies. More than five years had passed since they first arrived at the oasis. Many of them had developed intimate relationships with students from other places and residents of the oasis. They had long stopped having their weekly meetings because of their conflicting work schedules and busy private lives afforded little time for such long meetings. When they did meet, about every three months, everyone did not come as they had previously. Those who did come usually had deep philosophical differences regarding which model they should develop in order to implement their mission. These conflicts had their roots in the general competition and methodological disagreements that existed between their specialties and their mentors and advisors. They were offered a prestigious grant, from a rich, major corporation to fund the project. Several of the students wanted to accept the money, especially since they had spent most of the money they had brought from home and the rest was being depleted by low exchange rates, the high cost of health emergencies and other life crises at the oasis. Finally, after a year of fruitless squabbling, a few of the students accepted the grant along with employment at the major water corporation. They also agreed to negotiate with the leaders of their homeland on behalf of the corporation, which wanted the land and water rights of the experimental deep well, if it was to be built. The remaining African students disagreed with this turn of events but without the complementary skills of the students who were no longer meeting with them, they didn’t have all the knowledge needed, as a group, to construct and secure an overland water main. They also didn’t have enough workers or money to complete the project. At any rate, several of them were in serious relationships that would not survive if they moved back home. A few months later, a messenger from home came to bring news to the ‘students’ and inquire about their much anticipated progress. A group meeting was called but only a few of the ‘students’ actually showed up. Most of the others sent letters of greetings and regrets that they were tied up with personal obligations. They also sent money and gifts for the messenger to take to their families when he returned. The few that attended told the messenger that the group no longer existed. Few of those present were willing to assist in any water project; they believed that asking the few to do the entire project was too unreasonable.
They were willing to ‘give back’ in some way but each of them felt that the people back home had no right to dictate how they decided to spend their lives and that neither the group or the folks back home could force them to do years of hard work without salary on a community project. The messenger listened intently. When the last of the students had spoken, the messenger said, ‘You who have been sent to fetch the watering hole have been sitting too long at the hole drinking its cool life. While your bodies have grown accustomed to the water, your spirits have withered and now they cannot be seen. As you families and your people slowly die of thirst, waiting for you to bring forth water, you continue your gluttonous drinking and the excess water dribbles from your chins. When you came here, you were already professional water seekers — persons trained to tell the people how, where and when to obtain water. Now, even though you know even better how, where and when to bring the water to your people, and you are able, you will not attempt it. Now you will only serve yourself and those who pay you in dollars. You refuse to be of service to your people: to give your people the power over the water. You have lost the way of your professions.’ As the messenger turned to leave, the few stopped him and promised to seek UNESCO assistance form ‘home.’ Without comment, the messenger turned and began the long, dry journey home. Africans today are experiencing the great drought! Our lands and societies are quite parched and desert-like. Collectively, Africans have sufficient professionals to stop this disaster. We must remember our original purpose. We must remember To Be African!”