By OLATUNJI OLOLADE (The Nation)
It is not what you call him, but what he answers to that matter most. This minute, another innocent child is born into the world as a Nigerian ‘nigger.’ He will grow up pitifully, as just another poor black ant. His parents shall name him Clinton, Dave, Cregg, Oliver, Richard, Lovett, Colet, Da Silva, Humphrey, Jackson, to mention a few. His real names: Akanbi, Chiedu, Chimaroke, Isichei and so on shall become his “native names” or “middle names;” names he shall grow to loathe and be ashamed of. At a tender age, he shall be taught to despise anything and everything Nigerian, by parents who will persistently bemoan the erosion of the Nigerian culture.
That impressionable child will be enrolled in schools that teach the superiority of western civilization. He shall be taught to think of Africans, Nigerians in particular, as an inferior race. He shall be psychologically defrauded and taught to accept his place as member of a hostage race and generation. As he grows up, he too shall learn to evolve a masochistic appetite for alien norms, unearned riches, undeserved acclaim and everlasting humiliation. Time and over again, he shall learn to assimilate and project “imported condescension” as the next best palliative to his innate malaise. Like his forbears, he will get too impatient for his daily dosage of indoctrination and imported disdain and thus quit gawking at celebrated perversion on cable TV, social media and foreign news publications to be part of it. He shall doggedly sweat his way through standoffish, ill-bred and disdainful foreign customs and immigration officials in order to enjoy his share of dishonor and racial profiling abroad. Abroad, he shall labour to be part of what kills him. Like hordes of Nigerians slaving away abroad, he shall strive and try the patience of reluctant Caucasian hosts with his recalcitrant corruption and doggedness for eternal humiliation. He shall crowd the sidewalks of New York, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and London, sweeping the streets, doing the dishes and washing the anuses of elderly Caucasians with the shameless carriage of “a nigger who would rather die than return home.” And if he is fortunate to come from a privileged background at home, abroad he shall dwell, enabled and hampered by the lowliness of his mental skies. He shall desperately seek to impress caucasian course mates and neighbours with extravagant parties and insane acquisitions. He shall traipse the largely well kept streets – by immigrants like him – of London and New York in his desperate quests to purchase monumental forgetfulness at the mall. The over-celebrated malls of America and Europe shall continually whet his yen and titillate his airs. They shall become heaven to the ‘hellish’ markets of Ajegunle and Oyingbo ‘Ibo-made’ products. He is everything that is wrong with the black race. So pronounced is his inferiority complex that the tragedies of his civilization perpetually wail in its littlest details; take for instance, the contemporary Nigerian’s obsession to host extravagant wedding ceremonies and birthday parties abroad to the benefit of the host state and loss of valuable revenue abroad. It is even more amazing to see him obsess about foreign football leagues while the local football league suffers a slow, gruesome death. Like tadpole in Iju-Ishaga road crater, he believes if he could wade in the puddle for so long, he would grow scales and scissor-tail like an alligator in the English wild. An inelegant ‘mumu,’ he keeps pretending to channel joy and fulfillment from the attainments of another land while he bemoans the “poor leadership” that’s “killing Nigeria.” In response, he seeks escape by renouncing his roots. He conveniently forgets that, no matter how long the tabby cat pretends to roar like a lion, it will forever remain a cat…a whiny, pitiful parlour pet. The Nigerian youth has learnt to justify his moral claim to the successes of western civilization. He has learnt to intone that the so-called “first world” was built from the blood and sweat of his slave ancestors thus his right to a stake in the “first world.” Thus today, the average Nigerian continually celebrates his cultural graduation from the servitude of slavery to being verbally nettled condescendingly as a “third world nigger” and subsequently distinguished by association with his perceived level of evolution. The Nigerian ‘nigger’ no doubt personifies the imagery of the black nigger in Chika Onyeani’s “Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success: A Spider Web Doctrine.” He suitably illustrates Onyeani’s depiction of the black race as a consumer race and not a productive race. “We are a conquered race and it is utterly foolish for us to believe that we are independent. The Black Race depends on other communities for its culture, its language, its feeding, and its clothing.” “Despite enormous natural resources,” he says, “Blacks are economic slaves because they lack the ‘killer-instinct’ and ‘devil-may-care’ attitude of the caucasian, as well as the ‘spider web economic mentality’ of the asian.” Onyeani calls for economic liberation through hard work, self-reliance, entrepreneurship, and fiscal discipline; he advocates building of better black neighborhoods instead of moving to hostile white neighborhoods; he appeals for unity, because “When spider webs unite, they can be a lion” (Ethiopian proverb). Onyeani condemns self-destructive behaviors such as ethnic warfare, dictatorship, black-on-black crime, and slavery in Africa. But fitting as it is to the Nigerian malaise, Onyeani’s literature is just another version of Johann F. Blumenbach’s human racial classification in which the “caucasian” is at the top of the hierarchy and the black is at the bottom. Capitalist Nigger is also reminiscent of the French philosopher Lucien Levy-Bruhl’s “primitive” or “prelogical mind,” which he originally attributed to the Africans; and Hegel’s exclusion of sub-Saharan Africa from the world history among others. Like Onyeani I believe in the liberating character of the truth. However, I do not subscribe to his legacy of disbelief about Africa which permeates European imagination. Instead of confronting old stereotypes, Onyeani recites them with relish, thereby refreshing erroneous notions in the reader’s mind. His description of the African as non-productive, lazy, slavish, Neanderthal, dishonest, undisciplined and genetically unable to take care of himself is contemptible even as it speaks to the core of the Nigerian nigger. I do not agree with Onyeani for his “Capitalist Nigger” epitomizes the worst of blasé witticism that serve like double-edged sword, decapitating plausible realities and counter-arguments in its quest for applause. Yet in his subtle narcissism subsists truths, relative truths if you like. It rediscovers and plumbs the depths of inferiority plaguing the Nigerian nigger. It is what makes the Nigerian Presidency nurture insults from perverse caucasian governments threatening to withdraw financial aids if Nigeria fails to legitimize same-sex copulation and marriage. It is what makes an average Nigerian lose his head in arrant madness over foreign soccer leagues. It is what makes the Nigerian lust to be less than to the pleasure of the so-called “first world.” It is an emotional attachment, a bond of interdependence between captive and captor that develops when someone threatens your life, takes away your freedom, and doesn’t kill you. It is what causes the Nigerian to bark like a stray dog, pitifully seeking the collar end of the leash of the “first world.” Mr. Olatunji Ololade is with The Nation newspaper, Nigeria.