Obioma Nnaemeka, Professor of French and Women's Studies at Indiana University, Indianapolis, and President, Association of African Women Scholars, responds to Onyeani's characterization of the African elite, calling it inflammatory rather than provocative.

        Chika Onyeani may have something to say but often his writings erect a wall between me (the reader) and the text. I have always wondered where my resistance came from. After reading his last posting, I think I can put my finger on the source of my alienation-the author's unbridled generalizations and mind-boggling hyperboles that are incredibly sweeping in their unfolding and numbing in their impact.

     Consider this: "Africans are not a forceful people, neither are they aggressive to the point of a fight to the finish... Intellectually, we are bankrupt and decrepit.  We have a very short attention span." To paint a whole continent and all its peoples with a broad stroke of intellectual inferiority, puerility, and attention deficit syndrome disorder (ADD) is antithetical to methods of serious inquiry. The irony here is the deployment of an anti-intellectual methodology to expose the so-called anti-intellectualism of African intellectuals.

        Indeed, the generalizations from Onyeani are disputable on two grounds at the least-the first is factual and the second is cultural.  First, the generalizations are not based on fact; majority of Africans I know are not "intellectually decrepit" and are far from being victims of ADD. Second, the following considerations are inscribed at the core of many African cultures I know: middle ground, balance, compromise. The cultures teach measure and reject excess. Extreme generalizations and hyperboles epitomize excess.

        I disagree slightly with the moderator's description of the submission as "provocative." I make a distinction between a provocative text and an inflammatory one. A provocative text elicits an engagement; it draws the reader into an argument; it creates space for dialogue. On the contrary, an inflammatory piece engenders resistance and alienation; it compels the reader to walk away.