Saturday, February 19, 2011


A set is a collection of things where each thing in the collection is supposed to be unique. A collection of students in a class where each student has a distinct name is a set. As respects human abilities, a collection of the skills humans possess can be likened to a set because each individual, with a name, can be the set itself and the abilities and skills that individual possesses the objects or the elements of the set.

In brief, your abilities are a collection where each ability is unique within you and the control for each of them resides in your nervous system.

The set for human abilities is finite. This is because the abilities or skills follow biological, chemical and physical principles which of themselves are constant, well defined and unchanging. What is infinite is the ability of individuals to enhance these skills. A good example is Usain Bolt, the fastest man on earth. Running fast is a skill which many persons possess but they possess it to varying degrees. Because the focus is on the generality of skills and not the specific, “Fast Runner” skills is a single element in a set. This observation is pertinent because a set can be the element of or contain another set.
Therefore, we can visualize a universal finite set of human abilities which I choose to call the UniversalSkill.

What is a disjoint set? If two sets do not have any common element(s), then they are said to be disjoint. That means disjoint sets do not intersect. In human language, they do not share anything in common. They are unique. Some examples are the set of local governments in Lagos state and that of local governments in Imo state.

We humans can be likened to disjoint sets if an individual possesses skills or abilities that are common only to him or herself.

In a situation where people are interdependent, is this possible? I think it is not, but the possibility could arise in some situations. There are cases of people who are termed mavericks or eccentricities because they have a way of doing things that are common only to themselves. It turns people off, not so? Such persons are usually thought to be self-centered, people who refuse to share what they have, who refuse to participate in the master mind network of intelligent persons, hiding whatever they have as to discoveries and research.

I think someone who tends towards the disjoint should be a superman or superwoman. I wonder how such a person can survive? If you look at the situation closely, a disjoint set is expected to know nearly everything that he needs to in order to solve his problems; he should not rely on anyone but himself. He should be a closed object, impervious to intersection. But is that possible in a networked interdependent world?

I was watching a game on television, football precisely, when my mind drifted to these thoughts. I was so bent when I realized one point: special people are persons like you and I. They did not fall from some planet. They share the same skills and abilities like all of us but they have so practiced and trained themselves over the years on these skills that they have fine tuned them to a high degree of sophistication.

The implication is that there is no special person who can claim to be a disjoint set. Special people are persons who have been helped by all of us to succeed. A good example is Jose Mourinho, who is presently coaching Real Madrid. Without the support of the players in all the teams he’s coached, the management of those teams, the media, his coaching crew, FIFA, and time and experience , he would not have honed his coaching skills to the high degree of sophistication for which we admire him today. Same also for Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and so on.

On very close observation, one should realize that as the set of special persons intersect with other sets, these other sets who are unknown and mediocre, help the special persons to solve problems which are of a less important degree so that the special one can concentrate on solving the problems that are more important and more abstract.
That is why special people are paid better.

On the other hand, one contribution of having disjoint sets in leadership positions is that they tend to increase the level of powerful nucleuses in a region. These are the men called Great, but of what use is a Great person where he is unapproachable, narcissistic and highly selfish? What use is an autocratic to the survival of the greater society? Surely no one appreciates any of these so they need violence and force to succeed.

This is my working definition of a special person: Someone whom the society has helped to succeed more than others by solving his less abstract problems so that he’ll ensure the survival of the greater society or of other persons in the society by solving their more abstract or sophisticated problems.

Can we make some nominations from Nigeria? There are so many: Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Doctor Nnamdi Azikiwe, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Professor Chike Obi, etcetera. Unfortunately, all these names are from older generations.

It’s so difficult making a nomination from my generation. Can anyone help me out?
I promise to send a prepaid recharge card credit to anyone who nominates someone for the position of special person, according to the working definition above, who is below forty (40) years i.e an individual of our generation, someone born after 1970. Read my lips. Send your answers to my twitter account or my mailbox:; note the dot between both names.

follow me on twitter, @emeka_david

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