Like so many countries of the world where poverty, disease and ignorance are norms, it’s always difficult to adapt or reform to new technology or invention. Every product or service is received with a chronic skepticism and colonial paranoia of “The white man wants to kill us!”. Little wonder that my government of Nigeria had to struggle with Nigerians accepting the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The white man’s syndrome is self-evident in all contexts to scientific discovery. It has slowly but steadily progressed within the corridors of powers
It is contagious denialism that appears at every function often unannounced within speeches, dines with brewers and their hosts and my best assumption may have found its place in our Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
It’s probable that if scientific research is conducted, it may find that people with a colonized history are less likely than their colonizers to adapt to new information, products, or services across different disciplines.
The assumption is consistent with conclusions by Quamrul Ashraf at Williams College Department of Economics that found that the level of genetic diversity within a society has a hump-shaped effect on development in the pre-colonial and modern era. This has detrimental effects on productivity.
While the intermediate level of genetic diversity prevalent among the Asian and European populations has been conducive for development, the high degree of diversity among African populations and the low degree of diversity among Native American populations have been a negative force to development of these regions.
The Importance of DNA testing
We are alive to an era where science can determine one’s biological parents through DNA testing.
Despite such an incredible process of DNA testing to human existence, the DNA testing and results remain somewhat delusional and scorned off as too gullible by Nigerians.
Traditionally, lineage was determined through cultural practices that include sacrifices to gods, validation of a paternal aunties, and observations of bodily features such as the size of the head, eyes, noses among native African communities.
To this day, in many African societies, one’s ethnicity, tribe, and clan can be accurately determined by the size or shape of their noses, eyes and other body features. Although this is somewhat true, this form of determination only relates to the bearer’s tribe and ethnicity. There is no evidence that bodily features are good determinants of one’s lineage or parents.
Hence exuding countless and seemingly ending discontent, resentment and bitter quarrels among members of the same or different families. Such debates have often split marriages, broken homes and continue to contribute enormously to the numbers of homeless persons’ majority children in Africa.
The scientific adaptation of DNA testing to resolve lineage issues in our community has been brought to life not only by the curiosity that precedes the results but also the attention the media has given to cases where DNA results have been revered as the “ultimate court of judge”.
In turn smearing a social justice perspective that in turn shapes the perceptions of proponents and opponents of the results.
Discontent has often been not on the results per say but the likelihood of doctors to connive with skimmers so as to alter the results of the DNA.
The fallacy in this disconnect is that its opponents discount the DNA results not for what it reveals but because of the likelihood of either altering or deliberate temporizing of the results.
The consequential implication is that this disconnect advances mistrust between medical practitioners and users which is likely to impede both scientific adaptation, and dent relationships built up over the years.
Similar concerns have been raised around the world about corruption and the overly growing commercialization of work around DNA testing by various hospitals.
Many of these concerns also arise around the privacy and protection of information in the absence of specific protections in health law and research ethics around the matter in several countries.
Work around the legal understanding of health laws and awareness campaigns around the DNA could be the pillars to hold the bridge that connects history and genetic diversity.
Laetitia Mugerwa is a Ugandan writer, and founder of Empowerment Initiative for Women and Youth Uganda that helps rural women and youth attain economic empowerment through skills development.
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