Chika Onyeani's "THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES" is not convinced with Harik's defense of Arab's relations with Africa (no. 894), thus inviting a more robust challenge.
It was very kind of Emeritus Professor Iliya Harik to pay me such an
compliment as an scholar (submission 894), which I don't pretend to be, but unlike Dr.
Moses Ochone, I don't feel compelled to return the favor of such an
compliment - which most of us would think in bad taste. But I wish to acknowledge here
the great accomplishments of Prof. Harik, in which case you would expect him
to present an intelligent reply (for the lack of a gentler phrase), but not
the manner as if he were talking to an six year old year child, who you pat on
the head after telling this kind of tale and ask him/her to run along, leaves a
lot to be desired. If truth must be told, which is lacking in the African
elite as well as our leaders, I should express my view that rather than feeling
complimented that I feel violated by the simplistic manner in which Prof.
Harik treated the question of Africa-Arab relations. This is the same type of
off-handed dismissiveness that has been going for years, the continual deceitful
denial of what is a stark-naked truth.
There are two arguments here which Prof. Harik has advanced: the first, is
that everybody does it, that's there is racism everywhere - which is quite true.
This argument reminds me of when I was young and just started school. I
have an older brother, I come from a polygamous family, born of a different
mother. He was in what was called standard one (I believe grade 3 now), when I was
born and he had been there for a while, not like these days where you have
social promotion, if you didn't pass your exam you didn't get promoted. He was
there when I reached and passed him. At the end of every year after tests
were conducted and on the day results would come out, my brother would come home.
My father would want to know how he did, he would mention all the people who
failed the examinations. He would say this guy failed, that guy failed, on
and on and on before my father would bring out the stick for his behind.
Yes, according to Prof. Harik, we should understand that there is racism in
Russia, what with the skin heads; there is racism in Japan, after all two of
their Prime Ministers have called blacks inferior; there is racism in France;
the Italians when they come to America as paupers become some of the most
racists individuals you come across. Less I am accused of not practising equal
opportunity, of course how could we forget dear old Great Britain where the sun
has set and its once powerful Prime Minister now plays the game of poodle to the
only super-power that exists in the world. Of course, here in America are we
to forget what happened and continues to happen in the south of this country
or even in its northern parts now, have we forgotten Boston? Personally, I
have informed everybody that New York is one of the most racist towns in
America, just go to the East side of New York, you wouldn't run into a black face
unless that of an diplomat.
These are racists we know very well, we know they are racists, they know
there are racists in their midst and at least they acknowledge it. They even
pretend to fight racism and legislate laws prohibiting racism. But it is idiot
who thinks that racism could be legislated out of any individual's hatred.
Decry their attempts as we may, at least one thing is clear: the acknowledgement
that there is the problem of racism around. But to be confronted with the
simplistic dismissal of an non-existant racism in the Arab world vis-a-vis black
Africans, to my mind is the height of pretensiousness since I don't want to
offend with the word irresponsibility.
The second argument that I see Emeritus Professor Harik advancing, is that
Africans should look the other way and pretend that everything is sweet sweet
with Africa-Arab relations. We should be myopic and wear blinders like our
leaders. African leaders should handle this with the same care you handle an egg
- you don't want to do anything to stir the pot of division so far as it is
only one side that is not stirring the pot. Prof. Harik would agree that this
amounts to nothing but the "Emperor Has No Clothes" story.
As we remember in this story, two swindler "weavers" arrived in the Emperor's
kingdom, and quickly proceeded to proclaim themselves the best weavers in the
world because their material were made of exceptional quality especially to
any man who was unfit for his office or unpardonably stupid. The caveat here
was of course of being seen as "unfit for office or unpardonably stupid." The
Emperor fearing of being described with these adjectives, decided to send his
very trusted confidant to verify the works of the "weavers." The confidant
got to the swindlers "factory" and saw an empty room. Having the same fear as
the Emperor, he went back and reported the great work of these swindlers. To
make sure that the first confidant was correct, the Emperor sent a second
confidant, who went there and saw the same thing but did exactly as the first
confidant had done - he reported and extolled the work of these swindlers.
As the anniversary of his coronation was approaching and a new suit of
clothes was needed for the Emperor, he summoned the courage to visit the swindlers,
and lo and behold noticed the same thing as his two confidants. Fearing
"being unfit for office or unpardonably stupid," he acceded to being clothed with
nothing by the swindlers. The swindlers rejoiced at the stupidity of the
Emperor, and pretended to be working day and night to the d-day. On the day of the
anniversary, the Emperor went to be fitted with the nothing clothes -
removing what he was wearing and leaving him totally naked. Everybody in the
kingdom saw the Emperor come out and rejoiced at his beautiful attire.
While these shenanigans were going on, a little child couldn't help but
notice that the Emperor had no clothes on. He was not infected with the blindness
of his elders. And he said so in a loud voice, "but the Emperor has no
clothes on." It was after that, that the whole kingdom began to shout that the
Emperor had no clothes.
The moral of this story, my very highly learned Prof. Harik, is that Africa
now has children who are not myopic or wearing blinders like their leaders.
They are no longer afraid to say that an apple is apple, an orange is an orange,
they are no longer willing to accept that these two things are cassava roots.
If as Dr. Moses Ochone suggested that we start a dialogue, it is in our
interests that we do it in a rather frank manner. One thing that irks me is when
someone knows that he is patronizing me but proceeds to carry out the
patronizing. Please don't patronize Africans with this kind of dismissive crap
(sorry). It doesn't become a highly learned gentleman like you.
I suggest Prof. Harik reads threads nos. 895 and 898. Need I say anymore!