Nerds can achieve a lot of things. If your African child loves cars a lot, should you subscribe them to a cars magazine or suggest another interest? Should you reach out to parents with children who love cars so that your child can get a chance to be part of a community that can nurture their intense passion? A love for cars can turn to a love for designing uniquely African cars if it is nurtured in the right manner.
Sometimes it seems like as Africans we value well roundedness so much that we discourage intense focus that can lead to breakthroughs. In fact too much interest in one thing often makes people wonder if you are not going crazy.
As soon as my mother realized my love for reading she bought me a lot of books. I read all of them till they were torn and she bought more. I read so many books that by age 11, I told my parents I wanted to publish my own book. Most parents would laugh at this. My parents took me to a writers' group at the University of Botswana. I met with established writers and they were so positive and encouraging. This experience taught me not to be afraid to pursue any interest because people will think I am nerdy because the established writers were really keen to encourage my interest. I have moved on to other intense interests and my parents have never stopped being supportive. Writing, codes, theories, blogs, medicine, publications and games they keep up and never make me feel like I am too much.( I am a bit much but bless them, they never say it to my face :) )
Find out what your little siblings, son, daughter, niece or nephew is into and see how you can encourage them to pursue it. Most Nobel prize winners for science say an adult bought them a chemistry set at a young age and that encouragement sparked a lifelong focus on science. What is nerdiness if not intense focus on one or few interests.
If you are an African nerd, come out of the shadows and pursue your interest intensely to see where it may lead. You might fail but you might also succeed. I have failed pursuing some interests but you dust yourself up and re-focus.