By Farooq Kperogi
In Nigeria, if you have excellent quantitative skills, you gravitate towards numerate disciplines like engineering, computer science, accounting, etc.
If you have aptitudes in language, argumentation, logic, or are simply a voracious reader, you study courses like law, English, history, communication, etc.
But if you have both of these skills in more or less equal measure, you study medicine.
That’s why most Nigerian medical doctors are polymaths and often stand out anywhere they go in the world. Prof. Moses Ochonu and I had a conversation about this when he and his family visited me last week here in Atlanta.
One of the doctors whose admirable polymathy we mentioned is Dr. Raji Bello. And I woke up this morning to his light-hearted Facebook update about why and how he was encouraged to study medicine even when his forte is English.
We also talked about Dr. Muhammad S Balogun who is as much at home in epidemiology as he is in a variety of disciplines such as literary theory, linguistics, history, sociology, jurisprudence, etc. The kain book wey dey that man’s brain eh, I wonder if he doesn’t have permanent headaches!
There is also one Dr. Wale Okediran who used to write for the Guardian, is a one-time president of the Association of Nigerian Authors, and has written close to 20 novels that are studied in English departments all over Africa.
And you have the genial, brilliant, multi-talented Dr. Safiya Tanko who increases your IQ by just reading her.
Maybe this is self-selection bias, but there’s no Nigerian medical doctor I know who isn’t superlatively smart and intellectually well-rounded. These people simply rock!
Yet many of them tend to think they should have studied courses in the humanities and sciences. No! That would have been such a waste of talents. They are more useful to the society when they save lives– and still beat many of us at our own game.
▪︎ Kperogi is a US-based Nigerian professor.