Chimalum Nwankwo, Professor of English, North Carolina A&T University Greensboro sees Onyeani's discussion as "very exciting."
I am not as disconcerted or even offended as many readers are or would be over Chika Onyeani's reflections or critique of Africa and the black world. It is not inflammatory. It is very exciting, as conversation or inspiration to further conversation and action.It is only a tree that sees a man bearing toward it with a machete and stands, say the Igbo. Black people appear to have accepted that they are indeed trees of sorts in that regard.
Before the publication of Onyeani's book in 2000, there had been two well-attended major African and African-American summits to discuss some of the issues which his book later raised.The problem is that there have not been any serious follow-ups in terms of a program for action. There have also been conferences for reparation, which remain meaningless and purposeless without defining the project in terms of the trustees, who really deserves it,and how to disburse reparation if it is granted, and indeed where to commence the project.
The Jews are not really a good example as a race of oppressed people who fought back. Note how long it took them. Note too the level of commitment of the sponsors. Blackness is not a lucky color for such enterprise. We may be slightly monolithic in coloration as a people but we are not as culturally, and nowadays, as ideologically monolithic as the Jews. Diversity lends itself to very easy manipulation, so do the great differences in the experience of history. Contemplate the great horrors of Ruanda, and of Senegal and the Ivory Coast. Contemplate the tragic confusion bordering on a disarray or unraveling of the polity in Zimbabwe. See what is happening to the great giant called Nigeria. The crises of the black world submit easily to criticism and cynicism. The road to their panacea is a stony road.
When I was a High School student in Nigeria, I always enjoyed prodding and baiting my school mates comically about their religious affiliations. What are you protesting against? I queried the Protestants ? How can you an African be a Roman Catholic? I teased the Catholics. I got anger as response, and took to my heels. At the University of Nigeria,I extended my mischief to the "Greek" fraternities. Beta Sigma? Zeta Zee? How can you Africans be Greeks? No one found such questions funny.True,those may be childish and humorous questions, but they all resonate a few basic philosophical and political implications.
Onyeani's work raises more serious provocative questions than all that, but few Africans know exactly what to proffer to be politically safe or correct. Those who charge him with overly generalizing his criticism are right.That he is frequent on the television circuit does not quite mean that his industry is unique or unassailably stellar. It does not mean that he is the most aggrieved or concerned about the problems of the black world. There are so many out there who are camera and publicity shy, or simply choose to make their contributions more quietly.
The challenge which Onyeani now has ought to be very clear to him and his readers and critics. He has been in the eye of the public. He knows where black programs and ideas have erred or failed. If he knows all these things and how we may get about their solutions, he has a very good opportunity to convene a conference of similar minds, and table a program of action and restitution. If he attempts such and fails, he has absolutely nothing to lose but in fact more to gain. He can always say... I told you all. I called again very loudly, and nobody answered.