Dr. Chika Onyeani:
I want to thank Drs. Steve Nwabuzor and Tunde Bewaji for their comments.
(Tunde, for your information, I am not a Professor - the Professors seem to have
this love-hate relationship with me - just kidding).
I am rather at a loss to understand how Dr. Nwabuzor could read my piece and
arrive at such a conclusion that I gave the Bush administration a pass on
their horrendous blunder on this catastrophic human tragedy. First, let me say
that this piece was part of my regular Letter to Africa, and titled, "Letter to
Africa: The Third-Worldlizing of New Orleans." I had painstakingly detailed
what had happened in New Orleans to an audience that is not familiar with the
chronology of events since Hurricane Katrina struck. Hence, I had to explain
the different categories assigned to Hurricanes, and what levees are.
If Dr. Nwabuzor had taken time to read the piece thoroughly rather than
rushing to unfounded conclusions, he would have found how I detailed George Bush's
atrocious policies in denying New Orleans the funds needed to shore up the
levees. In fact, on my radio program last Friday evening, "Straight Talk with
Chika Onyeani on the AllAfricaRadio," I blasted the Bush administration for its
callous disregard for the population of New Orleans because the majority
living there is black. I challenged the audience to disagree that basically the
fact that it took four days for the Bush administration to respond to the
disaster was because the city is nearly black. I have looked at my write up here,
and I recounted exactly the same thing. I devoted the whole hour to the New
Orleans disaster, without even devoting the first 20 minutes to news from
Africa. To therefore accuse me of not openly blaming the Bush administration is
Unlike Dr. Nwabuzor, though, I believe that some times grandstanding is
necessary for the black man's sanity. A case in point, as I pointed out in my
write up, is that of Cuba offering to send 1,100 medical doctors to the New
Orleans to help treat people there. If anybody believed that America, as
represented by George Bush, would accept Castro's offer, would certainly need their
heads examined. But nevertheless, he made the offer, and as much as people,
especially the news media, jestly took the news, they still broadcast his offer.
It might have been grandstanding, but Cubans could proudly pound their chest
to say that they offered to help America - the David and Goliath syndrome.
Yes, I would have been elated if South Africa had offered to send a contingent
of troops to help in rescue operations in New Orleans, notwithstanding the
security issues. We well know that America would not agree to such an offer, yet
it would have uplifted black America to know that a African country had
offered to help their own kith and kin. What is wrong with that - it is a morale
By the way, here is a note somebody sent to me from Canada: Dear Chika,
We don't know each other but I'm one of those that recognize a good job
regardless of the source. This is one of the greatest articles of plea as
well as information I've read on this Forum since I joined it. I
congratulate you immensely for it. It couldn't have been written any clearer
nor could it have been more relevant. I would hope that this also gets
published in several of the African countries Dailies.
Though I've lived in Canada for a little more than you've lived in the U.S,
I knew very little about New Orleans particularly its Topography until now,
and thank you for it. You, without knowing it, have taken the messages
embedded in this account literarily out of my mouth.
Tim. I. Okeke, Engr., Dip. MGMT.
Montreal, Canada. "
You know what raises my pressure to a boil is the penchant of our
intellectuals at apportioning blames without doing their home work, and their inability
at absorbing brutal honesty. As Earl Ofari Hutchinson has recounted in another
post about the failure of the Black leadership in responding to the disaster,
New Orleans has for the past three decades been under the leadership of Black
s. Warnings upon warnings about the impending disaster from the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, who among us had heard about these warnings until after the
fact? You know what white people would have done it they had been in
leadership positions, they would have been shouting and crying from here till eternity,
they will employ all kinds subterfuge including paying lobbyists to see that
they got the requisite amount of money to fix the levees. For Chrissake, it
is our people who live there and would suffer and have suffered because we
waited for white people to take the lead in protecting us, as usual.
All these huffing and puffing about Onyeani blaming the blacks, and not
apportioning enough blames to Bush, aren't you sick and tired of seeing the same
scenario happening every time there is a disaster affecting blacks anywhere in
the world. Always, white people are lead volunteers.
Now New Orleans has been destroyed. What are Blacks going to do or are
doing in making sure that the city remains black? Already, I see accusing fingers
pointing at what would be the outcome in 15 years time when the city is
finally rebuilt, how it is going to be a playground of the white rich and famous.
Now is the time for us to say, never shall we allow such to happen. We are
not going to wait for the white establishment to take the beautiful city of New
Orleans from us. We are going to make our stand here. $61 billion has just
been appropriated by Congress for the Katrina relief and the rebuilding of New
Orleans. What part are our contractors going to play in ensuring that this
huge amount stays within the black community. But, in the end we are going to
allow the people who, through their negligence, perpetrated this disaster to
be its biggest beneficiaries.
So people spare me this jingoist victim mentality syndrome. I abhor it with