(Editorial: all contributors to this debate must note that all postings are archived and used world-wide; once I press the button, a submission is archived and cannot be withdrawn or edited)
Let me start on my caution for you never to wave your Capitalist Nigger book at our faces again. I am sure you know this was just a mere jocular steam-blowing. I never meant it literally. You worked hard at writing this piece and you are at liberty to advertise it through any medium, including this one. Many of my students are already scouting for the book on e-bay and amazon.com as I am talking to you right now. I am happy that my personal frustration with your position will earn you and your publishers some hard currency.
As for having my graduate students, all of whom happened to be white, adult, and well read individuals critique your work, you should give me credit rather than criticize my pedagogy. In fact, you should be happy that I did this. If indeed 99% of your readership has been drawn from the black community, don't you think you might benefit more by exposing your views to wider audiences, especially an audience which, all things being equal, should embrace your controversial polemics? I tell you this, Dr. Onyeani, if you still believe that in order for the black race to address and solve its problems, the white voice is irrelevant and inconsequential, then, you are being extremely unrealistic. Imagine if a white person concludes that solving all of the social ills in the white community could be done at the exclusion of the black race. This would easily be dismissed as share ignorance and abject anachronism.
You thrashed African intellectuals in your last piece, dismissing them as unproductive, parasitical and in plain language, useless. Come on, Dr. Onyeani, you couldn't have meant it literally. I am quite pleased, though, that none of those true intellectuals are taking your views of them so seriously. Otherwise, all we would see on this net talk would be midsummer fireworks.
I have some questions for you, Sir, and I know I have asked you some of them in the past, albeit in different ways: Are you familiar with a man called John Ogbu, the world's topmost anthropologist who provoked the intellectual world of education, anthropology, and race relations more than anyone else before him? His first book which theorized on the immigrant typology was translated to dozens of languages and read far and wide. John Ogbu, by the way, was of late among only three or four most influential scholars highlighted in "Chronicles of Higher Education." I may be wrong, but I believe Noam Chomsky, Einstein and two others were the others. Are you familiar with Festus Obiakor, a scholar and avid writer whose work is read all over the world in special education, urban education, etc., etc? And, by the way, one of Obiakor's book, Foreign Born African Americans: Silenced Voices in the Discourse on Race, has brought more understanding to the empirical showcasing of the critical race theory than any political discourse on the issue. Are you familiar with Philip Emeagwali, the man who invented the fastest mainframe computer capable of doing 3.1 billion calculations per second? And by the way, even the then American, president, Bill Clinton, could not but pay homage to this man in his address to the Nigerian congress. Do you know Toyin Falola, the man whose work or he himself I should need no further introduction to you or to anyone on this medium? Did you not cite people like George Ayittey, etc., etc., in your writings? You think these people are not productive? They are intellectual parasites and insolents? They are useless? I don't think so, and I have many who might agree with me along that line.
Dr. Onyeani: I am sure you really did not want people to take you seriously when you made this declaration, which I am just cutting and pasting verbatim here:
"African scholars are the same the world over. They get their degrees to the highest level; they get a teaching position or job at a company. That is the end of it. You cannot point to any research that they have come up with which has elicited comment which could be regarded as controversial. No African scholar in America is called upon as an expert on matters affecting Africa in all the major television networks. (That was true when I wrote this book, but not now when I see people like George Ayittey on CNN; I have been on ABC-TV, NBC-TV, UPN-TV, CBS-TV). With the exception of the literary icon, Chinua Achebe, whose book "Things Fall Apart," is a staple for teaching in almost all universities throughout America, no other African can boast of a book they have written being utilized (in such a wide manner) as a teaching mateial in the universities."
You saw Achebe's Things Fall Apart as the only work of an African writer steadily read in American universities! Come on, what have you "gone to the wilderness to behold? A dry reed?" I have spent more than two decades of my life hanging around American universities. Thus, it is impossible for you and I to forge a point of concord on your observation of this matter. Let me ask you: Are Soyinka's works ever read in American universities? Is he productive? Is he actively engaged in serious intellectual discourses and frantic political debates all over the world? What about Nguigi wa Thiong'o, Mariama Ba, Tess Onwueme, Amos Tutuola, Kole Omotosho, Femi Ojo-Ade? Yes, Things fall apart may have a slight edge over the works of these other scholars not so much because of its greater literary merit, but because many of its readers in the West erroneously embrace it as a historical document that portrays the Igbo ethnic group as practicing infanticide, not knowing the work is a mere fiction. After all, Professor Achebe has produced dozens of more serious literary and critical works since Things fall apart, but how many of them have received any acceptance in the magnitude of TFA?
Have you thought about the bevy of Africans in sciences, medicine, engineering, etc., whose works are read voraciously in American universities? You think no one cares about reading them in America? Are they capable of conducting any research that is worthy of attention? In my humble opinion, your views on this particular matter were wrong in the past, they are wrong now, and if you hold on to them, they will be wrong in the future.
Now, let me say this: I appreciate your emotion, generally speaking. I know you are concerned about the needs of the Blacks. In reality, many of your views have also been genuinely articulated in some quarters. Truth is bitter and quite difficult to swallow, yet, the Yoruba people often liken it to the solid rock which when dropped on the ground still holds its integrity. If you will pardon my cliché, my only concern is that as a shepherd, you are inordinately using the punitive rod rather than the staff of correction. With that, you cannot comfort the sheep, you can only hurt them, scatter them, or doing both. If all you do is kill the sheep in your effort to castigate them, then, you are not a good shepherd. As a parent, if all I do with my kids is see what is bad in them without pointing out any redeeming qualities in them, they would grow up to hate me. That is not tough love; it is called bad home management.
In conclusion, Dr. Onyeani, I think you need to apologize to those intellectuals that you deliberately insulted and belittled in this last chapter of your book, especially those who are reading your postings here all the time. Honestly, I would like to suggest that you make a brief appearance at one of Dr. Falola's conferences at UT-Austin and tell the mosaic of African thinkers who often assemble there every year and explain to them how they could become productive, relevant, less parasitical and be useful to humanity. The theme for next year is even more relevant - it has to do with intellectual border-crossing. October 1, Nigeria's 45th anniversary day, is the deadline for submitting your proposal. Until then, please, reduce the rate at which you clobber the black race with those deadly verbal missiles.