Would Capitalist Niggerism Save Africa?
January 19, 2006
When your book - CAPITALIST NIGGER hit the South African market, many of my friends contacted me to ask if I have read this book written by my country man. I was intrigued so I went and purchased a copy.
I read the book with interest and have quite a few questions hence this letter to you. The questions are dealt with in the form of statements and comments.
Your reference to East Indians and Pakistanis
Do you have personal experience of working with or researching East Indians and Pakistanis' reasons for assisting their fellow countrymen and women to enter which ever country they are based? Do you know their motivations and or work/business ethics?
Having lived in the USA, worked with Asians [especially the two tribes you use extensively in the book] both in the USA and other countries and conducted extensive research on economic development while working with various UN Agencies and most especially working extensively with Indians and Pakistanis here in South Africa, one thing is very clear why they bring their fellow countrymen/women out of India or Pakistan - TO FURTHER THEIR OWN PERSONAL WEALTH.
India with a population of over 1 billion and Pakistan not far behind are two of the poorer countries in Asia. When they succeed to leave their countries to another country, they set up businesses [the Asians are noted for their entrepreneurship] and bring out their countrymen/women for one important reason: TO USE THEM TO ADVANCE THEIR PERSONAL ECONOMIC GOALS OF GENERATING PROFIT. However, like everything else in life, there are a few exceptions to the rule, but this are far and in between.
The Asians are noted for their oppression and exploitation of their counterparts whom they assist to leave their motherland. They bring their people into other countries [most of the time] illegally, pay them below minimum wages and keep these people beholden to them by threatening deportation which usually helped to keep the Immigrants in line. There are quite a few Programmes on this topic on the educational channels in the USA.
Capitalism translates to GREED, EXPLOITATION and CORRUPTION, short and simple. A very good example of greed and corruption is the USA and a very good example of exploitation and corruption is BRITAIN, Britain's raping and ransacking of Africa's wealth and creating artificial boundaries in between tribes is well known. One other thing that the superpower [USA] and other developed countries have in common is PATRIOTISM. Patriotism may not be very pronounced in many developed countries, but it is very glaring in the USA; Americans will die for their country, this has been proven time and time again. Capitalism and Patriotism are the cornerstones of success of the USA. Are Africans capitalist minded YES, but are they patriotic? NO! Will they die for their country? Absolutely NOT. Patriotism is an issue you did not tackle in your book.
Effect of colonialism
I agree that we should not blame all our ills on colonialism because we [actually] are to be blamed. But you cannot negate the long term effect that colonialism had in shaping Africa to what it is today. The divide and rule system they created is so ingrained in us that we Africans find it very difficult to trust each other let alone work with each other. Before we can talk about being Capitalist Niggers, we first of all must find a way to deal with the issue of trust amongst ourselves, acceptance of each other's expertise and working together. When I left the UN and set up my own financial consultancy business in Southern Africa, it was so difficult to be accepted based on my expertise in financial matters. It was more difficult for my black counterparts to accept that a woman and a black for that matter have the skills to advise them on financial issues. They preferred dealing with whites. It took a while [my UN experience and connection helped to some extent] for Southern African blacks to come around and accept me. In fact the whites, coloreds and Indians started using my services long before the blacks came onto the band wagon.
Greed and the quest for Power
Greed and the quest for power is inherent in every human being, the colonial masters exploited [to their benefit] this inherent nature in us. We as Africans only perfected its use to our own detriment.
To borrow a quote from Ali A Mazrui: "Power corrupts and absolute Power corrupts absolutely." We Africans perfected the brutality of the colonial masters on our fellow countrymen and women in order to remain the top dog.
One of the legacies of colonialism is CORRUPTION.
This concept of bribery or "back-hand" was introduced into Africa during the colonial era [this is a fact based on numerous historical books I have read], but we Africans perfected it. Now we are supposedly the most corrupt continent in the world. How so? The content of your book is confirming the world-held belief that Africans are corrupt, dependent [a "beggar continent" as you called her in your book] and unproductive. Are developed countries not corrupt; are they not dependent on our [Africa's] natural resources?
I wrote an article which was published in the 90's while I was in the UN System: "Sustainable Development, Can Africa Achieve It?" I have expanded that article into a book. In the article [and now the book], I gave actual examples of corruption based on my experience in the UN and with governments of various countries of how African countries perfected corruption they witnessed in developed countries. There is bribery in developed countries; the difference is that while they steal some and leave some in the national coffer to grow, we empty the national coffer and leave nothing to grow. We do not think of the future of the country and our fellow citizens, we think of now and ourselves. While developed countries have "a WE" mentally, African countries have "a ME" mentality. Even in the developed countries, they are some with "a ME" mentality and in Africa some with "a WE" mentality. It all goes back to our value system.
Given the above, I agree with your summation, but believe that you should have put things in perspective and offer some possible solutions. I repeat, we cannot negate the effect of colonialism in Africa which brought with it corruption.
Yes, it is mind boggling that a few white men were able to overpower our forefathers and take some of our ancestors into slavery, but you should have mentioned that they were able to tap into our inherent greediness and quest for power hence a few were able to overpower the majority.
The Pull Him/Her Down (PHD) Syndrome
We cannot negate the effect of "PHD" [Pull Him/Her Down] syndrome and brain washing that is so embedded in our society because it is the manifestation of colonialism and the "divide and rule" instrument they used. How could we eliminate this cankerworm? That is one of the suggested solutions I was expecting to see in your book.
An example of brain washing: while with the UN, I was sent to Southern Africa where I have had the privilege of working in nearly all the SADC countries except Mauritius and Seychelles primarily to either evaluate existing UN financed projects or establish new ones - like in the case of Namibia where I had to evaluate the entrepreneurial environment shortly after independence in 1990 and develop an effective financing model for SMEs and in Lesotho where I had to establish a guarantee facility in one of the commercial banks. During my sojourn as a UN Staff, I had the privilege of working with different ethnic groupings in the SADC region. One thing struck me - the belief of the locals that anything white is better than black, they would only eat white bread and only use white sugar, only patronize white or Indian operated businesses, etc. In each of the countries I lived in the SADC region, I had maids. Each time I purchase brown bread or sugar for them, they refuse to use it because they said brown products are inferior therefore unhealthy. Who told them this story of brown products being unhealthy? - Their former white employers: the "Madams". It took me years [along with my colleagues] to educate them that brown bread and sugar are healthier than white bread and white sugar. This is the reality that we are facing in Africa - brain washing - which has been going on for years and is still continuing.
Black Americans and lack of initiatives and success
You talked about black Americans and their lack of initiatives and success and gave some example such as none blacks owning shops in Harlem in NY. Your assumption is one sided. You did not factor into the equation the fact that blacks do not patronize blacks. Do you know that originally those shops may have been owned and operated by blacks, but because of lack of patronage, they had to sell? Your examples of lack of success amongst black Americans is also one sided - you are not giving credit where credit is due. I have seen [and so has the whole world] and experienced Oprah Winfrey's success and her contribution to African development. I have personally witness her efforts here in South Africa and other Africa countries. The same goes for Wesley Snipe in Northern Nigeria and Jesse Jackson through organizations like "Operation Cross Road Africa" which sponsored many African students to America to further their studies. These are just three examples of black Americans success stories.
Capitalist Niggers - or Nigeria
Nigeria is a capitalist African country, where has the capitalism led the country and her people? A few are very filthy rich while the majorities are living in abject poverty. I remember during the cold war era when America was supporting some countries such as Angola to ward off communism, the Deputy Secretary of State for Africa from State Department was asked: "why is support not being given to Nigeria to ward off communism in that country seeing that it is the most populist country in Africa hence it would be devastating if communism takes hold in the country?" His response was: "Nigeria is more capitalist than the United States; communism will never take hold in that country." Is it possible to be more Capitalist Nigger than Nigerians?
The support system concept
Let's assume that your example of East Indians and Pakistanis is correct - that is they help each other to get away from poverty in their birth countries with no ulterior motives. Let's also assume that most of us are not helping each other in the same way. But what of those of us that have had the opportunity to leave the motherland to the Diaspora, have we adopted the Asian example?
Brain and mind power equality
Your assertion that blacks are less intelligent shows a lack of knowledge of the workings of the mind power. Dr. Jeetendra Adhia, a medical doctor, in his book: "Spring of Inspiration" states: "?there is very little difference between you and me, or anyone else for that matter, man has tremendous mind power but until now, we have been able to use it only to a limited extent." . He continued: "Even the most successful people have used less than 10% of their mind and brain power." Dr. Jeetendra Adhia is an Indian.
Dr. Adhia's statement above brought to mind a popular joke that has made the rounds in the international Diplomatic community. I first heard the joke when I was with the UN and since then have heard derivatives of it at the University that I teach and other places. It goes: "A child was involved in an accident and was brain damaged and a brain transplant was required. The parents went to a Brain Surgeon who took them into a display room with different types of brain labeled and priced accordingly to race as shown below:
? Caucasian brain priced at US$ 250;
? Asian brain priced at US$ 500; and
? African brain priced at US$ 1,000.
When the parent asked why the African brain is so expensive, the Brain Surgeon replied: "BECAUSE IT HAS NEVER BEEN USED."
Chika, blacks are not different from any other race, neither are we less intelligent. We just have not applied ourselves properly in the right direction. But whenever we do apply ourselves, we excel, example? - The Nigerian 419 Fraudsters and other scams that I am sure you are aware of.
The above joke and Dr. Adhia's claim can be supported by Nigerians incredible ingenuities - the 419 scam to mention just one. Can you imagine if that intelligence was applied positively what it would have achieved?
Your contribution to development in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular
Let's start from you [since you have been pointing the fingers] and ask a few questions. Since you have been living in the USA for the past 38 years:
i. Have you assisted any Africans [especially Nigerians] who relocated to the USA? For example students who are finding it difficult [financially] to settle in the USA.
ii. What have you done to assist in African Development
iii. Do you patronize other African publications or businesses? Here in South Africa they call it "Buy South African" or "Local is Lekker" meaning "Local is better"
iv. Is the Publisher of your book African owned or is there any African shareholders in the company?
v. Do you have relationships with African universities [in any African country]?
vi. What are your contributions to Africa as a whole and Nigeria in particular?
Developing a Status Quo in Africa
When my tenure with the UN ended and I chose to live in Southern Africa [first Namibia, then I moved to South Africa], I was constantly asked: Why do you want to live in Africa when you have American citizenship and can live a more comfortable live in the US?
My answer has always been [and will continue to be]: In the USA, I help to MAINTAIN the status quo already created by others, but in Africa I help to CREATE the status quo which does not currently exist.
It is a choice, we can remain in developed countries and chose to live in the only superpower country in the world - the US of A and enjoy a system set up by others like our forefathers and mothers that were taken into slavery. Or we can come back or have a connection with our motherland [it does not matter which country we chose to reside in Africa] and make a positive difference by assisting to develop a sustainable system for the benefit of the future generation to leave a better life in Africa than we currently do. My fervent wish is that during my life time, I would be able to give up my American citizen [which for me is currently a means to an end, but certainly not an end by itself because it affords me easy entry into other countries around the world which my Nigerian or South African citizenship does not currently afford me that luxury] and be able to travel freely to any country in the world with my Nigerian or South African Passport without experiencing any hitch or discrimination. Currently I am not able to do that with either of the African Passports that I hold, but can do so only with American Passport. In order for Africa to be sustainably developed, we should assist in her development or if we wish to remain in the Diaspora, to contribute effectively to her development, no matter how little because "Little drops of water makes a mighty ocean."
Political and Economic Independence
An extract from my book titled: "Sustainable Development Can Africa Achieve It?" "Previously, Africa suffered from POLITCIAL and ECONOMIC colonization. Now, all African countries have achieved political independence with the help of some developed countries, but none has achieved economic independence for the simple reason that Africa's vast natural resources is the main source of developed countries' economic dominance hence it would be to their own detriment for African countries to achieve economic independence. The only way African countries will achieve economic independence is by trusting each other and working together. But this is not going to be possible because of the "divide and rule" instrument that is still being used to maintain economic colonization of Africa. Economic colonialism still [and will continue to] exists as the developed countries are still using us to work against each other. For Africa to achieve economic independence, we need to have LIBERATION OF THE MINDS"
Chika, if you are going to disparage Africa and her people, please put it in perspective and suggest solutions.
MY GENERAL COMMENTS ON THE BOOK:
Below are a few comments [very brief] on the book:
1. Very superfluous [it is very repetitive] and no depth;
2. Too much blaming of others but no clear strategy for way forward;
3. Wrong examples of East Indians and Pakistanis; see statement above on that issue above;
4. Contradictory statements in the book, you talked about the PHD syndrome then went ahead to state that Africans are not enterprising without creating a linkage between the key issues;
5. It is not balanced [too one sided], the book is provocative but not balanced;
Being a CAPITALIST NIGGER is not necessarily the way to go for blacks. In your Acknowledgments, you stated that your wife "?.initially opposed this book because she believed I hated 'black people'?." Perhaps you should have heeded her opposition and not publish the book or rather add a redeeming angle.
In conclusion, your book has some merits - it is provocative -, but it is full of negativities with no corresponding suggested solutions. It certainly did not recognize achievements of many black Africans. It would have been great if you had ended the book with a challenge to black Africa to lift up the continent.
My comments may sound harsh but as a fellow Author, they are constructive. I hope you will take it in the spirit it is meant.
Ngozi M. Awa