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Posted: Friday, August 24, 2001

A Ghanaian secondary school teacher visiting London recently would not believe that a black man invented the traffic lights. "What?," he asked in utter incredulity. "How can a black man invent the traffic lights?"

Well, you can imagine the sort of education this secondary school teacher has imparted, or is imparting, to his students, not out of malice but sheer ignorance. Which speaks volumes about the kind of education Africans receive. All said, this Ghanaian secondary school teacher genuinely believes that black people "cannot or do not" (his words) invent things, they buy other people's inventions. Well, there is something here for him.

A new textbook, Black Scientists and Inventors Book One, published in London recently by BIS Publications dismantles the notion that black people are not inventors.

Co-authored by Ava Henry and Michael Williams (both directors of the London-based BIS Enterprises Ltd), the book is designed for use by children aged 7-16. "It is our hope that parents and teachers will help the children on this journey of knowledge and discovery," say the authors.

The issue of black inventions, like slavery and reparations, is now top of the topics in the Black Diaspora. Black people are finding it increasingly difficult to understand why, even in the Internet era of openness and liberalism, black inventors and scientists are still denied their due recognition. And this is despite the fact that there are records showing that right from ancient times, a number of key inventions that the world now takes for granted were made by black people. More

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