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Imagination drives the world, only it is not appreciated by mundane learning

Imagination drives the world, only it is not appreciated by mundane learning

Neat handwriting ● gratuitous use of spurious rewards ● superhero origins, rock lyrics & revolutionary aeroplanes ● windows & underachievement ● the incredible distance between the front & back of a classroom ● how to become a corporate giant ● unfair reversal of an unkind stereotype ● lost potential & the potential for a better future

In an effort to mould young characters into whatever it was they thought was desirable, the teachers at my school used a system in which those who did well received good marks. As a reward for working your butt off, regurgitating facts, writing neatly, running faster and generally being a good kid, you used your marks to progress across a map of the world and become a shining example to a bunch of uncomprehending pre-adolescents. I sold my good marks, bought books and contented myself with the back of the class, literally and figuratively.

The back of the class is a forgiving place if you can ignore the barbed comments of a frustrated teacher. I still don’t understand photosynthesis or how a sentence is constructed in German, but I learned how to keep my mind busy with ideas, possibilities and dreams.

Yet ideas, possibilities and dreams are not the stuff that education is made of. An intimate knowledge of superhero origins, a detailed mental analysis of a popular lyric and the subsequent soul-shattering revelation or a sketch of an aeroplane that can land in a backyard doesn’t score the high grades, or any serious teacher’s bright approval. More’s the pity.

Those of us who found refuge at the back of the class and sent our minds and souls in flight, out of the window and into the bright day, were written off as underachievers and relegated to the status of ‘stupid’ on the playground. But time has turned the tide, at least on a few back rows that I can remember.

Those who sat at the front of classes I remember do not seem to have achieved any note in my mind. I suppose they became teachers or something. One became good renowned for her skills with make-up though. It would be fairer to pass this judgement on them if I could remember their names and faces, but they were too far away from me, and I can’t.

Many of those who shared the back of class with me seem to have gone elsewhere though. Some pulled themselves out of their academic torpors and became doctors. Others went on to become company directors and even owners. Once again the record is incomplete, though this time the achievements seem more noteworthy.

So there’s the unkind cut, an unfair, arbitrary generalization, albeit reversed this time. Those who sat at the front concentrated on learning what was taught to them, and those who sat at the back schemed and dreamed. The former seem to have sunk into some mundane oblivion and the latter seem to have pushed their way forward, defying the shallow categorization of stupid underachievers. If there is anyone who defies this faulty logic, my apologies and please let me know. No, on second thoughts don’t. I’m still dreaming.

This particular classroom scenario is a metaphor for life: you get those who do entirely what they are supposed to do, on time, in the right way, dressed neatly with short hair and paid up dog licenses. And then you get the other, less desirable sort, who spends his or her time ignoring what is expected of him or her, and waiting for an opportunity to come along. And the use of this opportunity will always come as a surprise to those who do what society expects of them.

People want predictability the way a kid burns up in anticipation of a new toy. A state of predictability is comforting and there are no surprises, particularly the unpleasant kind. Most people suppress their imaginations, having been taught that to dream is unproductive. Yet out of dreams come tomorrow’s comforts.

It’s time to reassess imagination, and perhaps begin to take concrete steps to harness it. There should be careers for imaginative people outside of the arts or waiting on tables.

There may be a better type of engine out there, a cure for HIV AIDS or yet another gadget without which everybody will one day believe they could never live. However until we take concrete steps to recognize the power of imagination and promote it from the back of the class, we will never know if any of it is possible, or even if it will ever happen.


About The Author

Pierre Maré

Pierre Maré is a multi-awarded Namibian advertising strategist and copy writer. From 2004 to 2016 he wrote a weekly tongue-in-cheek column for the Namibia Economist, eventually amassing an impressive 590 articles over the almost 12-year period. This series of Offbeat is a digital rerun of his pieces that received the highest reader acclaim. - Ed.

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.