Never Seen A Millionaire Spider
By Biko Agozino

Chika, my brother, I keep reading your stories and
they are beginning to sound like a cracked vinyl
record caught in a groove! You are telling the same
lame jokes over and over again and they are no longer
funny. Come on, try a new njakiri (playing the dozen).
I look forward to reading the South African
professor’s critique of your jokes at our expense.
That is the correct format for njakiri - if you abuse
my mama, you give me a chance to abuse your mama while
the audience cheers and eggs us on. The first one to
lose his temper is the loser. But jokes apart, have
you ever seen a capitalist spider?

How can you seriously ask Africans to be like spiders
even as a remote metaphor? What are spiders known for?
The female eats the male after mating, the mother
expels the young from the web after hatching, the
miserable spider starves to death if it can’t catch
another tiny ant while bigger games would bulldoze
through the web with ease. Seriously, if asked what
animal you would like to be in your next incarnation,
would you choose to come back as a miserable spider
rather than the mighty elephant with a veritable sense
of community or the majestic lion with an elegant
sense of belonging to a pride? My brother Chika, I
will choose without hesitation to remain a human being
with all the flaws that human beings have, no animal
compares to us, not even the wise spider that
Ghanaians celebrate as Asante.

Before we start mimicking Indian immigrants, Chika
should demonstrate a better knowledge of India which
stands as a sub-continent that is united as one
country with over a billion people whereas our people
are divided into 54 countries in a continent with less
than half the population of India. Yet our spider man
calls on our youth to despise our elders and avoid
them like a plague out of shame over their failures
without a word about their immense achievements that
made it possible for a small-minded hustler like Chika
to pose as a paid keynote speaker (njakiri). Not even
a white supremacist could give a keynote speech in
South Africa without paying tribute to the living
legend, Nelson Mandela, and expect to be taken
seriously just because Mandela is not a millionaire
spider. What a joke!

Let me tell you a small secret about the Indian
miracle that is little well known. I was in New Delhi
in January 2004 to attend a conference on global
development and I could not believe my ears when a
Japanese official told the conference that Japan gave
a grant of $200 billion to India in the 1990s. That
was not a loan but a grant to spend as they saw fit. I
asked other delegates if I did not hear right but they
said that it was true. Can you imagine what such an
amount would do to the African economy if Japan should
grant a similar amount to a united Africa, not to
mention similar grants from other countries? But then,
no one owes Africa a penny, it is only Africans that
owe the world their very existence. Yet, even with all
that foreign gift to the Indian economy, China
continues to dwarf India due primarily to the Chinese
investment in the people through public funding of
education and health services, for instance, that
enables China to outpace India as a world power. It is
not Chinese food and all those millions of dollars
that hungry Africans transfer to Chinese spiders that
accounts for their greatness but mainly their unity as
one country that was not weakened by being balkanized
into fifty-four million countries the way Africa is.
In economics, it is called the economy of scale and
this was what Thabo Mbeki was alluding to in the
speech that Chika quoted without fathoming completely:
‘from Cape to Cairo’ as Sonny Okosun used to wail in
‘Papa’s Land’.

So rather than aspiring to be vulnerable spiders to be
crushed by the giants of globalisation or simply
snuffed out with insecticides, Chika should go back
and read Julius Nyerere on Ujamaa or the principle of
familyhood. Nyerere wondered why Africa (and the
entire world, for that matter) could go through
centuries without producing a single millionaire but
also without producing mass poverty on the scale that
you see around the worldn today? The answer is that
Africans shared what they had in their community and
took care of one another the way third world
immigrants continue to do by remitting those billions
of dollars to family members who could perish today
without such aid. Nyerere’s conclusion is that we
should find a way of integrating this principle into
modern public administration by providing publicly
funded education, publicly funded healthcare, publicly
funded housing, publicly subsidized agriculture,
publicly supported industrialization, and above all,
political unity of our people as one family no matter
where we happen to live, at home or in the Diaspora.

It is not enough for Chika to hustle and shout at
anyone within an earshot to patronize his Onitsha
Market literature under the guise of buying black.
There is nothing black about the spider, ‘Itsy Bitsy
Spider’ is not an African song. Similarly, there is no
African car manufacturer, makers of computers, air
crafts, major clothing lines, arms manufacturers, food
chains, oil producers, and a lot of basic products and
services that people of African descent cannot afford
to go without until a capitalist spider who happens to
be black opens a retail shop to become the
sharecropper of The Man. Yes, let us patronize African
businesses as Chika says but commercial patronage
would not be enough to salvage our people unless we
also address the political economy of dependency at
its roots.

Instead of advocating rugged individualism of a
pathetic creature like the spider as a model for
Africans, the message our self-professed Nigger,
Chika, should be pushing is the strong unity of the
United States of America, Peoples Republic of China or
even India as the model for the divided and weakened
people of African descent. The African Union recently
adopted an ‘immigration’ policy that would allow
African workers to move freely across the continent
and work wherever they could as is the case in
America, and to a smaller extent in Europe, China and
India. I was amazed to read that South African workers
joined the capitalist spiders in their country to
campaign against that commonsensical policy under the
fear that foreigners would come and take away their
jobs. Chika, how can you address the ‘elite achievers’
in South Africa without reassuring them that other
Africans are not foreigners in South Africa just as
South Africans are not foreigners in Nigeria or Egypt?
How can you reinforce the xenophobia and the black on
black violence by advocating that the young should
disrespect the older generation who won the freedom
that the spiders now enjoy?

Mandela may not be a millionaire spider but he is
still by far the most successful African alive. This
is not strange since the most successful people in the
world, from Shakespeare to Einstein, from Soyinka and
Achebe to Toni Morrison and Louis Armstrong, from
Marcus Garvey to Bob Marley, from Winnie Mandela to
Graca Marchel, From Fela Kuti to Thomas Mapfumo, From
Martin Luther King Jr to Malcolm X, from Nawal El
Sadawi to Maya Angelou and from Ngugi wa Thiongo to
Sembene Ousmane are far from being the richest spiders
in their community. Instead, they are all builders of
freedom and community for their people. Money is not
everything in building up a people who have suffered
the greatest historic wrongs and who deserve all the
reparations that they demand.