THE "SPIDER WEB DOCTRINE"
A Proven System to Drive the African Economy to its Next Level
A Keynote Address by Dr. Chika A. Onyeani
Author, "Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success - A Spider Web Doctrine"
Fellow of the New York Times Institute for Journalists, New York, USA
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning African Sun Times, USA
At The Launching of
"THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK 2005/2006"
By The FINANCIAL MAIL, SOUTH AFRICA
(A Publication Profiling The Top 50 Leaders of Industry and 500 of the Young Professional Black Heavy Hitters and Top Executives of Industry in South Africa)
At the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa
At 6:30 p.m. on October 6th, 2005 (Over 500 people in attendance).
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
Good evening. I would have loved to greet you in an African language, but I will stick with English because with us Africans everywhere, we always have too many dialects. So, again, I say good evening. In an occasion like this, the speaker is supposed to tell a joke to break the ice, although I have been told it is really for the speaker's nervousness. My joke here is that I don't have a joke to tell, except if you consider this a joke. This joke concerns three president-for-life African presidents, who were attending those meetings they normally attend. After a day of patting one another on the back about their achievements, three of them retired to one of the huge expensive penthouses reserved for them. They started comparing notes on how they loot the treasuries of their respective countries.
The first one said, "Well, here is what I do. At the end of the day I ask the finance minister to collect all the hard currencies that came into the country that day. I will ask them to put all the money in a big basket. Then I will draw a huge circle on the ground. I will ask them to throw the money up. Whatever falls within the circle, belongs to me, and whatever falls outside the circle belongs to the people." The other president said, "yes, yes, that's exactly how I do it, except in my case I make a very small circle and whatever falls outside the circle, belongs to me, and whatever falls within the circle belongs to the people."
But the president, with his dark eye glasses and all kinds of epaulets on his shoulder, of course we know who we are talking about, said to the other presidents, pompously as usual, "You are all stupid, you don't know how to do it."
Seriously, I am more than honored to be within this elite group of achievers, and I must thank the organizers for giving me this opportunity to be the speaker this evening. I am deeply humbled. When a friend of mine, Dr. Joe Okpaku, I am sure you remember him as the Keynote Speaker last year, called me one day out of the blue and said to me, "Chika, why is it that everywhere I go all over the world, I hear your name being mentioned, and moreover why are you following me all over the place?"
Okay, that's the end of the niceties. Now, let's get down to the serious business of why I have been asked to be here today, the topic being : THE SPIDER WEB DOCTRINE: Engaging Young Black South Africans with Employing the Psyche Necessary to Become Economic Warriors in the New South Africa." But before I get to this, let me digress a little.
TRUTH, HONESTY AND FRANKNESS: Nobody Owes The Black Race Anything
One thing I must tell you right upfront is that you, the young people, must never carry the baggage that my generation of Africans is trying to unload on you. Normally, it is said that a son who learns and resembles his father, is a good thing. But let me tell you that it would be suicidal for you to do that, why, because my generation of Africans has been a disgrace to the memory of a race that is the cradle of humanity, a race that brought civilization to the world, a race in a continent that possesses a greater percentage of the world's natural resources. If you see us coming, please I plead, take the other way.
In a Keynote Address I gave at Morgan State University, one of the premier black universities in the U.S., the theme of my discussion was Truth, Honesty and Frankness, with the sub-title "Nobody Owes Blacks Anything."
We should be about being intelligent on how we make decisions where to spend our hard-earned money. The truth is about no more playing the blame game, and the victim-mentality game. In this 21st century, we have to accept the truth of our situation, and nothing but the truth, so help us God.
Where I come from in Igboland, Nigeria, we have a saying that "when a child grows up, and he is able to wash his hands, he should sit at the same table and eat with his elders." The Black race has grown up, we have washed our hands, but the question is why are we not sitting at the same table to eat with our elders, in this case, why are we not sitting at the same table with other races to eat from the same table, why are we still eating from the floor?
Again, we have another saying that "you don't need a mirror to look at what you are wearing on your wrist."
This is the 21st century, and luckily for us there is genre of black writers and leaders who believe, just like the Jews and others, that we must begin to wash our so-called dirty linen in the public, otherwise the wound would continue to fester, attracting more maggots.
As I implored you, when you see a member of my generation coming your way, take the other side of the street. (Not with me though). You don't want to be infected by the same disease which we have been suffering from in the last 48 years, since the first African nation gained independence from our colonial masters. You need to start with a clean slate. If I start to enumerate the diseases, we would not get out of here for another 48 hours.
I wish to be totally sincere with you here. I have been told that I shouldn't be expressing disappointment at my people for having one mind-set, complaining and whining all the time about who did this and that to them; we complain and complain ad infinitum ad nauseum. We believe the world owes us something. Well, I am sorry to say that that is a delusional mind-set. Nobody owes us anything. Nobody is willing to give us wht they have, on the excuse that we want it. If you want something, you have to go out and get it. You cannot continue to beg for manna to fall from heaven, my brothers and sisters. You know what - manna never falls from heaven.
We trust the whiteman to have the compassion to know that he has done wrong by us, and should correct those wrongs. In fact, this reminds me of the story of the snake that said it couldn't swim. Can you imagine? At the edge of the stream, the snake moved around and around until it saw a man crossing the stream. The snake said to him, "Please could you help carry me across the stream, I can't swim." The man replied, "No I can't because you will bite me and I will die."
THE SPIDER WEB ECONOMIC DOCTRINE
I want to warn from the onset of this part of the discourse that what I am saying here should not be construed as an invitation for xenophobic feelings towards the achievements of the groups I have mentioned here. Instead, I want us to learn from their experiences. I am not saying this for the people to become objects of hatred, but rather of admiration. And these are the groups of people who don't believe in manna falling from heaven - and those people are the Indians and the Chinese, in fact the Asian people as a whole. Let me tell you what would happen today if an Indian from the Asian continent were to arrive in America - for example, let's assume he flies into the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. This man doesn't know a thing about America. He can't even speak English well. You know what would happen?
Well, right at the airport, he could start work immediately, without even coming out from the airport. How you may ask? Legitimate question. I am sure most of you have traveled outside South Africa. When you go to any international airport these days, you notice a lot of newsstands - mostly called Hudson News. Some times, there are several in one airport; in fact, there are some airports where you have more than ten of these Hudson newsstands - they not only sell newspapers, magazines, books, but also candies, water, coke, and other artifacts that are convenient for the traveler. To answer the question as to how he could arrive at JFK International Airport, and without even stepping outside the airport, start work, is due to the fact that these multi-international news group is owned by Indians. He doesn't have to understand English, but he must know how to count the money and give people change. He doesn't need to verbally interact with the customers. They pick up whatever they want and bring it back to him for payment, or he could work at the backroom, replenishing goods that have been depleted.
Here is how it gets even more interesting. If the new arrival doesn't fancy doing this type of work, he could leave the airport and stop at the first gas (petrol) station outside the airport terminals. He could immediately start there as well, pumping gas. The only requirerement for the new arrival is the ability to count money and make change. Again, he could do this because the Indians own the gas station. But the man hates gas station, he hates the smell of gas (petrol). So, he asks one of the Indian taxi drivers to take him to the city.
He could ask the driver to take him to one of the motels (small hotels). There he could go behind the counter and start checking people in, if he could speak a modicum of English. Or he could be put into cleaning the rooms and changing the beds, or he could just be asked to wash the dirty linens.
These are not the only opportunities open to this recent arrival in America. If he could drive, he would be put immediately either driving one of the thousands of medallion owned taxis owned by Indians; or the limousine services, or he could just work in the offices of these companies. We are not even talking of the thousands of stores owned by Indians across the United States.
Let me give you this statistics, according to the New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes, Fortune, Time and Newsweek magazines, because all of them have done research on the success phenomenon of the Indian community in America: 78% of all motels in America are owned by Indians; 68% of all gas stations are owned by Indians; 12% of four star hotels are owned by Indians.
Professionally, at one point the former President Bill Clinton of the U.S., expressed surprise that Indians controlled 700 companies in Silicon Valley, that's the computer maven of the world. Financially, one of the largest equity funds and the largest venture capital funds in the world are both managed by Indians. At this time, Americans are crying about outsourcing of professional jobs - to where - of course to India. India generates about $30 billion in income from this outsourcing of jobs from America, because their entrepreneurs have returned to India to set up companies to compete directly with America, offering better services at much lower costs.
How did this Indian miracle occur? Well, it started in New York City with the purchase of one newspaper newsstand, and before you knew it, they had bought up most of the newsstands in New York City, remaining the biggest the Hudson News owned by a Jewish family. The Indians bought out the Jewish family. From there, they laid their next conquest to the taxi and limousine business also in New York. Mind you, the cost of a medallion now in New York City is more than $300,000 and the Indians own more than 80% of the taxi and limousine service in New York City. It is from there that they expanded into the motel, gas station and other businesses, which don't depend on peoples' emotions but are basic necessities.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are 1.8 million Indians in America, while on the other hand, there are 2.9 million Africans, excluding North Africans since they are counted as whites. According to the same Census, the African immigrant group is the most educated group, with 43.8% finishing college, as against their Asian counterpart of 42.5%. In advanced degrees, Africans even do better with 8.2% as against 6.8% for Asians. When it comes to income, the average income for an American family is $46,000, for the Asian $56,000 and for the African $45,000.
You can look at this statistics, and ask what is the problem? It seems Africans are doing as well as or even better than most Americans. That is not the question you should be asking, the question you should be asking is why is that the Indians have control of the motel, airport stores, gas station, taxi and limousine services, businesses. That is the question you should be asking.
My answer is what I have come to christine the Spider Web Economic Doctrine of the Asians in general, and the Indians in particular. You see, after I discovered the data of what is going on, it is an ongoing phenomenon, I have no doubt even here in South Africa, I decided to carry out more studies of the Indian community. What I discovered led me to christine their huge economic a miracle, but a miracle with a difference, which could only be explained by the way the Indians interact with one another. Their way of life is akin to a spider web mentality. What do I mean by this?
Well, we all know what a spider web is. It weaves its yarns, and waiting for that lone fly to come across its web. The unfortunate lone fly goes into the web and we know what happens after that - the fly is unable to extricate itself out of that web. The spider grabs it and eats it. When you expand this to economic theory, you begin to understand why the Indians have become one of the most successful groups everywhere they have settled throughout the world, Britain, United States or any other part of the world. Let me show you how the spider web theory relates to the Indian economic miracle.
Expounding on the spider web doctrine, when an dollar, but in this case since we are in South Africa, when a rand comes into an Indian community, just as in the web, the community traps the dollar, and doesn't allow that dollar to leave their community, they devour it within themselves. Now, we know in economic terms what a dollar or rand is worth when it comes into a community. Through the process of what economists call the multiplier effect, this dollar or rand eventually becomes $8.00 or R8.00 if you may, which will have the same effect when another community loses a dollar or rand, it is actually losing $8 or R8.
Of course, other communities practice what the Indians practice, except they have perfected the spider web economic doctrine to a greater degree. When that dollar comes into their community, rather than going outside to spend the money to buy from other communities, the Indians spend their money buying from themselves. The money circulates within their community, because they patronize one another. An Indian would travel more than a hundred miles so that he/she could buy from another Indian. Just imagine where you continue to take from others, without giving back to them in any form or shape?
A lot of times people make fun of the Indians, oh, they live five to ten in a room; they wear ill-fitted suits made in India; their women only wear sarees; they eat only their curried food, and speak English shaking their heads. But you know what, the suits, shirts, ties, shoes, they wear are all made in India; the sarees are of course made in India; by eating their own "curried food," they don't have to spend their hard-earned dollar eating other peoples' foods. Listen, left to Indians, McDonalds would not be the behemoth it is today. They even make their own cars, and have nuclear capability. So what, I ask, so what?
Compared to us, what do you get? We are basically a consumer race. In my book, "Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success," which most people said they have read, I charged that the "Negroid Race, as naturally endowed as any other, is culpably a non-productive race. The Black Race is a consumer race and depends on other communities for its culture, its language, its feeding, and its clothing. Despite enormous natural resources, Blacks are economic slaves because they lack the 'devil-may-care' attitude and the 'killer-instinct'
Yes, why wouldn't you be angry when you know that before a dollar comes into our community, we have already spent it? I am sure you would say, "Man, you are talking about blacks in America. Things are different there." I say is that so? Let me see, the last time I checked the annual income of Black America would be the 7th largest in the world at $850 billion, edging out even Canada. But only $50 billion comes back to the Black community as revenue. On the other hand, Africa possesses the largest percentage of the world's natural resources, but Africa is the poorest continent in the world. Despite the so-called debt-relief, Africa still owes more than $300 billion because we continue to have leaders who are more interested in grandiose living than in employing our resources for the benefit of our people. There is the perception on the part of Africans that they are better and superior to African Americans, while African-Americans think they are better with all the wars, diseases, especially the pandemic of HIV/AIDS going on in Africa. I say to you that is utter nonsense, both groups possess the same mind-set, give me, give me; blame, blame, blame others for our failures. I don't want to even go here, it is entirely another topic of discussion.
SUCCEEDING THROUGH THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF THE SPIDER WEB ECONOMIC DOCTRINE
Through the application of the Spider Web Economic Doctrine, you need to make informed decisions as to how you spend your hard earned money. As I said before, I am not an advocate of separateness, but an advocate of reciprocity. One society can't leave its mouth wide open for us to dump all our earnings into their society, and then close their mouth and say let's not do likewise to these people who patronize us. No, it shouldn't continue to be like that. This is why in the United States, I am very critical of how the Chinese community comes into the black community, open their restaurants, never employs one black even to do some cleaning for them, never knows anything about the community other than where their business is located, and never patronizes the community. And since we as Black people enjoy eating Chinese food and spend about $40 million a day doing that, it means we are spending about $15 billion a year and employing the economic multiplier effect, we are actually pouring in about $120 billion into the Chinese economy.
Africans like good things, in fact, they like the best, especially if it is expensive, which we equate with quality. We should emulate the Indians by trapping the money that comes into our community. One of the effects of racism has been this notion that whatever is Black is inferior, and it has been ingrained in our psyche, so that when we go out there, we avoid black businesses. Due to years of racism, we feel more than honored if white establishments allow us to shop in their stores. But if Blacks wouldn't patronize your business because they know it is owned by an Black individual, then hire a white, an Indian, an Arab, it doesn't matter - what you don't want is failure because you are trying to be a goody-shoes businessman for your people, and then you fail and everybody laughs and pats you at the back because you are down to their level again.
We must organize cooperative clubs, which we call "ISISUS"
We must set up manufacturing facilities, even if it is just to manufacture candles. You would be quite surprised that in many African countries, candle is very much a part of their import from countries like Taiwan. Indians make the clothes they wear, the television they watch, the wristwatch they wear, the shoes they wear, in fact India is more or less a self-contained society, a self-contained society which is able to satisfy the needs of its people, but have more than enough to export.
We must set up business center services capable of competing for the industrialised world's back office businesses as the Indians have done, and I am happy to say that Ghanaians are now doing.
Our motto, no matter how we have to say it, is "patronize black businesses, stupid!"
I will start this conclusion with a quote from a speech that President, then Deputy President Thabo Mbeki gave on August 13, 1998, titled, "The African Renaissance,"
There is absolutely no doubt that you represent the upper echelons of society, and you surely don't want to be parasitic on that society. Your aim should be how to accentuate the power of the Spider Web Economic Doctrine to mirror the super-success of the Indians, and catapult the African economy to the next level.
It might not be politically correct for me to say this. But I am not known as politically correct most of the time. I hated apartheid with a passion and still loathe racism. The white people in this country committed atrocities far beyond anyone's imaginations. But if the truth must be told, and as I have warned you before, this is the 21st century, it is time that we started telling ourselves the truth no matter how bitter that truth maybe, if the truth must be told the whites also did some good things. They built an infrastructure far in advance of any existing in any African country, well might be as well as Egypt's. They put in place an infrastructure which has now enabled South African businesses to become major players in other African countries. Of course, we know why they did that, don't we? I don't have to spell it for you. Truth be told, as recently as five years ago, it was impossible to complete phone calls to Nigeria from the U.S. without waiting for God knows how long. Now, everybody has cell phones, and I am not saying that without South Africa it wouldn't have happened, but nevertheless it happened through the aggressive pursuit of business expansion from the phone companies in South Africa.
Therefore, I must seriously warn you that you shouldn't expect to be handed everything on a platter of gold, just because of what you have suffered throughout the apartheid era. It is this type of behavior by other Africans after independence which has led to the total decay and abandonment of any modicum of infrastructure that the colonial masters had left, and rather than building upon what they left instead we let them rut, and spending incredible amounts of money buying new equipments only to let them go without maintenance. Fortunately for South Africa, the whites are still here with you. I am not an advocate of separatism, that's not what "Capitalist Nigger"
The problem of the Black Race is we think the world owes us something because of the horrible infliction of slavery, colonialism and the continuance of racism. I say we should objectively acknowledge these things, but let them not be a mantra for our continuing failures. I will be disappointed if you think because of previous wrongs committed under apartheid, you should not work up a sweat, you are totally mistaken. You owe it to this society to roll up your sleeves and climb that Mt. Kilimanjaro, and even if you fall and break your bones, have them repaired and try again. It is about the survival of the fittest.
Let me use this story to tell you why it is necessary that we become more open to the idea of washing our dirty linens in the public, because of the importance of communications. "A man came home one day, and his wife had prepared a good food for him. After eating, he was more than satisfied. He turned around and asked his wife, "my dear what did you use in preparing the stew."
The guests quickly pounced on the food, and began washing it down with all kinds of drinks. Forty-five minutes elapsed when the hostess's maid walked in, and whispered something to the hostess. The hostess whispered to her husband, and the husband immediately collapsed. Everybody jumped up and wanted to know what had happened, and the hostess murmured "the dog is dead." There was a pandemonium, the guests tore out of the house, and into their mercedes, lexus, jaguars, and some found palm kernel oil and drank it to blunt the effect of the "poison", before running out.
However, one man decided to sit and wait and observe how he was going to die, whether he would shake first, whatever happened he wanted to know it. After more than 30 minutes, nothing happened to him. He then called the maid, because even the host and hostess had also left. He asked the maid, how did the dog die? The maid answered, "Oh, sir, the dog was crossing the street, and a car hit him." The man became very angry, and shouted at the maid, "You are stupid, why didn't you tell us, stupid girl?"
Again, I want to thank the organizers of this high caliber event. I feel extremely honored, in fact more than honored, to be in the presence of the future leaders, probably, future magnates of Africa. All the pleasure has been mine, but I hope yours too. Again, join me in thanking the indomitable Rose Francis and her partners at the Financial Mail.
If you are as outraged as I am, then I must quote President Mbeki again with these words, "Surely there must be politicians and business people, youth and women activists, trade unionists, religious leaders, artists and professionals from the Cape to Cairo, from Madagascar to Cape Verde, who are sufficiently enraged by Africa's condition in the world to want to join the mass crusade for Africa's renewal. It is to these that we say, without equivocation, that to be a true African is to be a rebel in the cause of the African Renaissance, whose success in the new century and millennium is one of the great historic challenges of our our time."
Thank you all, stay blessed.
(Lots of applause and laughter accompanied Onyeani's speech).
Professor Hellicy Ngambi, DBL (Unisa, RSA), MBA (BSU, USA), MSM (USF, USA), BA (UNZA, Zambia), ITP (LBS, UK), CIM (UK), Executive Director & CEO (Interim), Graduate South of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, wrote and read a critique of Dr. Onyeani's speech. Her critique to be published when provided by email).