Conversations on the African Elite
By Chika Onyeani

"Africa's renewal demands that her intelligentsia must immerse itself in the titanic and all-round struggle to end poverty, ignorance, disease and backwardness...The call for Africa's renewal, for an African Renaissance is a call to rebellion,"  Thabo Mbeki, The African Renaissance Statement, August 13, 1998. Mbeki is a few years older than me.

It has been a few days since I posted a chapter of my book, "Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success," titled "Bankruptcy of the African Elite."  I must thank the few people who responded here, although there has been quite a lot of other responders who urged that I continue the battle.  I guesss I would agree with Prof. Obioma Nnaemeka that such "inflammatory" observations might drive people away from commenting, although I would rather term it a brutal frankness of the condition of the African race.  Nevertheless, she is right.

I must thank Dr. Michael Afolayan for bringing my book to the attention of his white graduate students, which is a new one especially as 99% of the readers of "Capitalist Nigger" are blacks, even in the South Africa where the white graduate students thought whites were in the forefront of acclaiming the book. However, unlike Prof. Afolayan, I disagree totally that whites have any say on how Africans should debate their conditions as I had stated in my speech at the Morgan State University, as follows: "In this 21st century, we have to accept the truth of our situation, and nothing but the truth, so help us God. There is nobody more qualified to debate the state of the Black Race versus others, other than you and I.  We cannot, as usual, in our lackadaisical manner abandon this debate to others with better access to the media."

Of course, Dr. Afolayan's white graduate students can afford to be mischievously magnanimous in questioning the effrontery of an black man to write such a piece.  They can afford to because they are not at the bottom of the lowest totem economic pole.  I wish Dr. Afolayan would be magnanimous as well in printing out this piece and passing it around to his students.  But I am even surprised that Dr. Afolayan couldn't see the irony in articulating the agreement of his students to his own, I wouldn't say prejudicial, views.  Here you have your graduate students, you hold them ransom to their GPA, what do you expect? Really Dr. Afolayan!!

Anyway, as I titled this piece, this is a conversation, it is not a gloves-off battle.  The problem of the Black Race and how we individually see it should not be debated in anger.  But there is no escaping the fact that you could be quite angry when you understand the stark nature of our situation, anger that the two people who blurbed the book, Profs. Ali Mazrui and Michael Mbabuike aptly noted.

As we say back home, if a two-year-old is crying and pointing to one side, it is either his father or mother is there; and Prof. Barnett captured the essence what I am saying here, that "Yes there  are a lot of generalizations in Onyeani's piece, but at the same time there are arguably some nuggets of truth buried in his characterization of the African Elite.

A key issue that he raises is what are we actually doing in concrete terms to help Africa, to uplift this beleaguered continent, (that is in reality in dire need of upliftment). Why does Africa depend so much on other people, other than Africans, for its technological needs, in contrast to the situation of other continents, such as Asia and Europe? "

Now this is a very sad situation that I want to bring up here.  Only realists would understand what I am saying.  A key issue I would like to bring up is what caused the present downfall of the Black Race - slavery, which was as a result of the black man's inability to defend himself.  It saddens me that Africns - continental, diasporan, caribbean - have never convened a meeting/conference to discuss this singular issue.  After the holocaust, the Jews said "never again," and they have meant to the last letter of the word.  After slavery, which cost us 18 million lives and the total subjugation of our people, what is it Africans have done?  Have we ever said never again, and even if we said it, on what basis are we able to utter those words?

Okay, I know Dr. Afolayan admonished me never to refer to my book ever again, but I am sorry I am going to disobey him and quote a passage from the book, and as I asked I believe he should pass this on to his graduate students if he is not ashamed of the situation.  "With the new millennium barely upon us, the whole of Africa is literally still a colonized continent.  Black people all over the world still live under occupied territories.  I have said it repeatedly in this book: Blacks all over the world are still slaves. There is the perception that just because the British, French, Spaniards, Portuguese or the other Europeans don't directly send their government agents to live amongst us, that Africa is independent...Independence means being capable of effectively defending yourself, militarily, economically, socially and culturally.  I can say it with certainty that the whole of Africa is incapable of defending itself on its own without outside aids, if one of the European powers decided to attack the continent.  The reality of the situation is that Africa cannot defend itself right now or in the near future.  None of the weapons of war, either old or new warfare, is produced in Africa.  None of the 53 countries, maybe with the exception of Egypt and South Africa (Caucasian apartheid monsters had started manufacturing war materials), have war manufacturing capabilities:  no gun factories, no ammunition factories, no bomb-making factories, no airplane making factories for fighter-and/or bombing-jets, no helmet making factories for our soldiers to wear, no binoculars to spy on our enemies, no walkie-talkies to communicte with our own people, no water/food processing factories to produce the containers to carry foods/water for our soldiers, no factories to produce the clothing for our soldiers, no factories to produce the medicine, the bandages, the syringes or any of the first-aid materials to treat our wounded soldiers; no factories to produce motorized ambulance equipment, or the army helicopters to carry our injured to safety."

When the Jews said "never again," they meant it and they mean it. Unfortunately, for Africa we have never began to discuss this singular occurrance that brought us down, and even when we say it, what do we have to ensure that it doesn't happen again?  Well you answer the question.  With this situation of the Black Race, I am never never going to wear blinkers and parade myself like a peacock, and we know what happens when a peacock parades - its behind is wide open.  As an black man, I am extremely ashamed of my situation, and if I appear angry I can justify it to myself.

So, that is the question: In order to correct the singular action that brought the Black Race to its present situation, can Africa defend itself without external aid?

I would  like to dilute this important question, hence I don't want to talk about the Asian miracle - as against what Dr. Afolayan calls ""slash your enemy's throat so you could eat" mentality."

Please, let me re-emphasize this is a conversation.