Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Friday, 25 January 2013

Thomas Rogers Muyunga Mukasa shares ; At Harvard: where small may mean grand



In the animal Kingdom, according to an African Kingdom culture, the chameleon won a race in which it was pitted against the hare (a mythical grey-brown small animal). The hare is a fast runner and is always depicted as the brightest of all animals. The chameleon is slow and smaller than the hare. In this race it managed to beat the hare. But that will be a subject of another story.
I went to this place and was greeted by red adobed brick structures and an imposing gate with metallic doors. The doors opened wide to let in or out any passers-by to their destinations.  Mine was the self-guided tour before an official one by our proctors. With so many hours before me and a cool but windy weather of January, I set out to walk all over spots that were trodden by many people before me. I was in Cambridge, passed over a bridge, I saw the tourist kiosks, I picked a large tourist map, I went by Phillip Brooks Hall and passed the Sumner statue. I joined a group in the Harvard Yard who were taking pictures. In taking the pictures they were posing before or under the great founder’s statue. I admired and continue admiring so many things at Harvard. I do think back to the times when all these grand ideas were taking shape. I am in awe at the commitment that followed word with action. The promise resplendent in structures we are using collectively, for residence, instruction and formation. I went off to read what messages I could pick from the walls. On one red-brick mural are these words:
 
AFTER GOD HAD CARRIED US SAFE TO NEW ENGLAND AND WE HAD BUILDED OUR HOUSES PROVIDED NECESSARIES FOR OUR LIVELIHOOD REARD CONVENIENT PLACES FOR GODS WORSHIP AND SETTLED THE CIVILL GOVERNMENT ONE OF THE NEXT THING WE LONGED FOR AND LOOKED AFTER WAS TO ADVANCE LEARNING AND PERPETUATE IT TO POSTERITY DREADING TO LIVE AN ILITERATE MINISTERY TO THE CHURCHES WHEN OUR PRESENT MINISTERS SHALL LIE IN THE DUST
                                                                                   NEW ENGLANDS FIRST FRUITS
 
I moved away after wrapping my brain around the words written in a very different way from what am familiar with. I looked all around me including; the structural buildings, green lawns, paved roads and pathways. I admired one of the first computer built in 1944 on display in the foyer of the Aiken Laboratory. The Harvard Mark I is one very big machine with 8 feet in height, 51 feet in length and 3 feet wide. This is a machine that only one dreams of in a very grand way and has to be executed in an equally grand way. There is no room for small undertakings. The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) did so. It never looked at this as a small undertaking and it supported Howard Hathaway Aiken (1900-1973) in making the Harvard Mark I (aka IBM Automated Sequence Controlled Calculator. The calculator has 760,000 parts and 530 miles of wire. It is one of the first electro-mechanical-digital computers built by 1944. This particular one was unveiled in August 1944 and weighs five tons. It was able to run while programming a second problem. Today the computers run over a million commands simultaneously and are as light a quarter of a gram!
The Harvard Mark I run up to 1959 having given fifteen years of service. It now sits, quietly, at the Harvard Computation Laboratory. Aiken was a graduate of Harvard. A product of the graduate of Harvard on display has continued to crystallize the dream of our founders: create a learned populace able through their skills to live in this world and improve on the lives of their own and others. A single human being or a community can do this.

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