Saturday, 14 November 2009

Will the Real Scientists Please Stand Up, Please Stand Up!

Science is the Art of Things, that's my simple understanding of the word as a Graphics Artist. Besides that though, I know that it includes observations and tests in Technology, Medicine plus Agriculture. Many Lugbara are actually involved in these fields from those working for Sugar Companies (in Kakira, Jinja; Lugazi, Mukono plus Kinyara, Masindi); Airlines as Pilots, Telecommunication Companies and Arua Garages to doctors at Mulago Hospital (the Biggest in Uganda) and around the world. The first Ugandan Blood Specialist at Mulago (Died in 2009, Rest In Peace!) was actually from Vurra, Western Arua (Also the Birthplace of Dorcus Inzikuru who must have applied a lot of Science in Athletic Training to achieve unprecedented success for her country).
Sometimes people wonder why there is only one local free-to-air TV station in the Arua area. Is it because of a UCC (Uganda Communications Commission) restriction or inadequate resources? In addition to BTN TV whose transmitter in Anyafio Village (one plot North of the four storeyed Anyafio Model School) is sometimes affected by lightning, there is only WBS (Wavah Broadcasting Service) from Kampala - 530 Kilometres away - whose signals also need an external antenna. Amazingly, the Ombaci Earth Satellite Station, northeast of Arua Town, which WBS uses was the very first in Uganda, set up by homeboy Idi Amin Dada in 1978, a year before he was overthrown. As a consequence, many locals wish that the Government would at least direct the national broadcaster UBC (Uganda Broadcasting Corporation) to be aired in West Nile even though it can be accessed on the Pay per Month DStv (Digital Satellite).

Around 2003, during my Senior Six Vacation and First Year on Campus, I spent either one week or about one month reading a Pure Mathematics Book and Technical Drawing Publication in order to understand the Mechanical Physics of a "Parabola", the standard shape for a Satellite Dish that ensures maximum convergence of reflected electromagnetic signals. I jotted down measurements and made my mini-dish (less than 30 cm in diameter) using wires. I shouldn't have used rubber straps to join the wires because they get holes and rapture after some days. The objective of this experiment was to discern any TV signals within Uganda and from neighbouring Congo plus Sudan. Unfortunately, I was not successful maybe because I did not make an amplifier or decoder to make sense of the signals converged. However, I did not end there. I tried the dish on a radio and one night, I was able to recognise unbelievable stations loud and clear from far and wide on the FM Band (from Capital Radio in Nairobi, Kiss 100 Kenya, Star FM (affiliate of UBC), Top Radio (in Kampala and Masindi) to Capital FM Kampala, my favourite then plus others I do not remember. You couldn't hear them in Arua using a normal aerial). I did not believe my ears so I woke myself up from the impossible Dream during the day by dismantling the dish to make a bigger and stronger one but school life had to go on so I forgot about the remake. Maybe someone else has tried this out before, please let me know which stations you heard! Flashback: During Primary Seven (1996), a classmate of mine called Mukalazi (a Muganda) made a helicopter that could carry two passengers over a distance in the air. During my O' Level (1997 - 2000), some schoolmates in HSC (Higher School Certificate) made a machine that spits out Orbit Chewing Gum when you drop in a coin. In A' Level (2001 - 2), some of my Senior Six yearmates studying a Science combination created a radio transmitter and let me listen in on the other side of their classroom. After witnessing those experiments and others, I believed anything is possible in Africa. If your heart is filled with Faith, then you can't fear. Let GOD deal with your designs. BBC Radio in October 2009 reported that some innovators started mass producing small radio stations recently. They are actually only 18 Kilos heavy and each station can be carried as a briefcase. They are now marketing them around the world. Imagine the refreshing Arua One or the world class Radio Pacis in a briefcase, isn't that incredible? Science and Technology is very liberating indeed. A young man from Malawi once made a Windmill after reading a book in an American sponsored Library and got noticed by some foreigners who saw his machine outside the compound where he was staying despite the fact that some locals regarded him as a mad person. He is now studying on Scholarship in America.

Internet Connectivity is the next frontier for inventiveness. Maybe a brain in Bweyale, Mid West Uganda could shockingly come up with a bright idea to change the way we surf. Okay Hajji Ibrahim, that may be a wild thought before Ramathan but we need to keep looking. With Uganda now connected to SEACOM's fibre-optic intercontinental undersea cable, surfing rates are bound to reduce and bring about a "Bypass to Prosperity" because of increased speeds. Mobile phones changed our world, but the internet is a Resource that has the Potential to bypass that. Today in Arua, you can surf the internet in a cafe at 40(or even 20)UgX per minute (Around 2001, it was 500 UgX per Minute). Others use a small modem (about 8 cm long) from MTN, Warid or UTL unlike in the 1990s where you needed a big dish or big antenna. Things keep getting better as Science tests facts, laws and observations. So, if you are doing anything Scientific or even Artistic, then just keep improving and doing your thing! Say no more!