THOSE of us who are faint-hearted or fear reading disagreeable views and
opinions, please stop reading now.
For we are looking at the tongue lashing writings of dynamic and assertive
Chika Onyeani - Nigerian born author of Capitalist Nigger, in which he gives a critical assessment of Africans.
Last year, president Thabo Mbeki devoted considerable time during his state
of the nation address to the two economies that are presently at play in our
country, namely the First World and its counterpart the Third World.
Unfortunately, the bulk of Africans are still confined to the second, which
is characterised by informal businesses, high unemployment, high crime, poor
wages, poor products and services, poverty and the rest. This state of affairs
is not only unique to South Africa, but extends to the whole of Africa and
offshore countries where Africans live.
In short, Africans as a race are slipping away from the radar of progress and
prosperity to which other races belong.
It is this unpalatable situation that provoked Onyeani to analyse and expand
on the question of Africans in the greater scheme of things.
Firstly, he acknowledges that Africa undoubtedly is the cradle of both the
human race and its civilisation. But he argues further that Africans failed to
exploit this advantage, in that other countries or races that are late-comers
in the game of superpower politics and economy have overtaken us.
He highlights the fact that we were conquered and colonised as slaves by
foreigners while we were in possession of our richest resources. But ironically,
with our resources properly managed and produced we could feed, house, clothe, heal, transport, educate, arm and entertain the whole world.
But we, using mostly some foreign equipment and technologies, still mine and
harvest our primary products, export them to other countries and then buy them back as imported finished products and services at higher prices.
It is this abnormal inability of Africans to control the supply and
distribution chains of the resources that are right at our doorsteps that angers
Onyeani immensely. For example, Africans are respected in the whole world as the best sportsmen and musicians and yet for some strange reasons there are few of those, who after succeeding in these careers, start their own professional sports clubs, entertainment companies, motivational books or consultancies for others to learn.
Instead, the majority of them prefer to remain consumers of their own
He goes on to state that for us to keep harping on our history of slavery,
colonialism and expecting the world to carry some guilt or sympathise with us
will not do us any good.
What is imperative is that developing and building our own brand of
self-respect and self-identity is something that is wholly dependant on us,
irrespective of how other nations try to undermine or use derogatory tactics to suppress
For instance, it is more than fourty years since most of the African states
were freed. But most of these countries are still dependant on foreign economy and aid. In fact most of the aid funds allocated to them disappear into a black hole without any trace, leaving the country worse off than before.
For example, Nigeria has the highest number of the educated class in Africa
and the third largest oil production in theworld, and yet this industry is
still run by foreign-based companies with the majority of local populace occupying merely rank and file jobs.
To Onyeani this is odd if you can imagine the benefits that could have been
reaped if the government had invested creatively in the empowerment of its
citizens rather than misappropriating their funds.
This type of scenario is so widespread in our continent that mentioning more
examples can run into millions of pages. He also mentions the families of
those African politicians whose governments have been thrown out due to
He says these people seem to be forgetful of the suffering they imposed on
their people and yet still dream of the era when they replaced the colonial
masters and ran their countries as if they owned them.
These people, he says were nothing but rapists that plundered the wealth of
their countries leaving their people more poorer than before. For example,
countries in the tropical areas in the north are more susceptible to malaria
disease, and ask yourself how much funds are spent on breakthrough research come from these countries. Instead, Western Countries scientists are the ones that are in the forefront in providing solutions to the malaria.
The African academic and intellectual fraternity also does not escape
He states that a majority of them are nothing but mere collectors of academic qualifications and honours that lack depth in terms of applying their skills to better use.
For example, he asks how many breakthrough research materials or inventions have been generated by them that have won national and international recognition. These are the brigades that are supposed to be the leading lights in freeing the general populace from the shackles of poverty and ignorance.
He further expands on the Jewish experience. After being subjected to one of the most vicious oppression the world has ever known, the lesson the Jews drew was that Never Again will this occur. The Jews will quickly isolate or demand immediate redress from any country, individual or institution that defames them as a race.
In contrast, Africans are the most loyal consumers that will still continue
buying without complaining from the same person or company, even if it treats them as dogs.
For example, designers' items are what we most like to purchase in comparison to other races and yet these very companies that we support spend little of their marketing and promotional budget to keep us satisfied as customers.
Onyeani asks, how come we do not use our purchasing power to seek redress from these wrongdoings? Are we such a type of people who find pleasure in ill treatment? Or lack the guts to do what other races do when provoked.
To cut a long story short, according to Onyeani Africans need to undergo a
radical shift on how they view the world before them because, he says, the world owes us nothing.
What we need to appreciate is that it is in fact a jungle full of vultures
and lions that will attack and swallow us up immediately if we are not alert
By this he means that in the capitalistic world we need to know the rules of
engagement before we can overcome our rivals and competitors.
The name of the game is about assertiveness. Be clear of your vision and
Be highly inventive and innovative in order to be always ahead of your
competitors. Always infuse high quality in your products and services, and be clear and not confusing when marketing and promoting your products and services.
Aggressively pursue your vision and objectives, be in company of like minded
persons, love winning and most importantly consider wealth creation for
yourself and your community as the ultimate crown to achieve.
In his frank description of this model person of success he calls him or her
the Capitalist Nigger.
In a nutshell, Onyeani's writing is quite refreshing and thought provoking
considering that our nation is in the throes of transformation while also
confronted by high unemployment, illiteracy, HIV/Aids, poverty, crime and