On liberal orthodoxy and “helpless” Africa

By | February 14, 2010

Liberal orthodoxy is avuncular and patronising and it bestows upon the “helpless” African a benevolent but malignant label – subhuman. It is malignant because most days these days we spend our waking hours trying to convince the other that well, we are human, just like them. Why do they see us differently from how we see ourselves? Is racism alone the answer to that question?

In a perverse sense, the earthquake that rocked Haiti’s wobbly foundations exposed the pathetic rubble that passes for black life not only in Haiti but almost everywhere our people live. Chew on this: 10,000 NGOs pretending to do work have gulped billions of dollars in “aid” to Haiti in recent years and yet the country is so poor, it is called a Fourth World country. Nigeria is the next embarrassment waiting to happen. Every day Nigeria is rocked by quakes of thievery, savage violence and pure unadulterated incompetence. So, what is wrong with us?

As people of colour, it sometimes seems that we spend our days loudly proclaiming our humanity. We are on the defensive all the time.

NEXT newspaper’s Ikhide Ikheloa wrote that after reading J. M. G. Le Clézio’s Onitsha. The full article is here.

On the subject of being defensive and proclaiming ones humanity. I wrote about how I became a Nigerian a couple of months ago.

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  • codliveroil

    Loomnie
    I read this article, and read Mr Ikheloa’s article in the Next magazine.

    I’m not too sure about black people collectively being more stupid than any other people on the planet. I would have thought you as a Nigerian, with a strong cultural up-bringing would not have subscribed to that view.

    My father is a Nigerian, and I have visited Nigeria on several occasions. So I’m yet to be convinced that black people are on the whole dumber than anyone else.

    I will say this though, evasiveness, pomposity, arrogance, laziness, complacency, pettiness, greed and irresponsibility are all factors that have collectively brought the country and all it’s administrations down.

    I don’t know why that is, but it is a fact. Look at the figures you have published about Ghana and Cameroun (and they arent’ the most developed of African countries either) leaving Nigeria behind. Shame on Nigeria!! That is a further indictment to the people and the administrations of Nigeria.

    Why is is the leadership at any level on the whole in Nigeria is so bad? I agree with Mr Ikheloa in that blackman, casts aside many traditional values to embrace any foreign idea, be it good or bad. We can see that China, has not relinquished the idea of a one party state, but they are still successful. Similarly, Nigeria has to find it’s own way. Nigeria is not Saudi Arabia or the US. So there is no need in people trying to graft their systems of governance onto Nigeria in the hope that things will then work well.

    I will say that Nigerians have to stop being complacent and drop this idea that being over-populated dependent on a one-product economy is a good thing. The realisation must take root that the only way to wealth is planning and hard work. Something like the Brasilians have in their national flag “Order and Progress”. People will have to be patient and politicians,bureaucrats and officials must be watched carefully. After all the wealth of China didn’t arrive overnight. It has been decades in the making.

    Bringing God into the issue, further complicates things, and gives those who wish to take no action an excuse by saying “it’s in God’s hands”.

  • codliveroil

    Loomnie
    I read this article, and read Mr Ikheloa’s article in the Next magazine.

    I’m not too sure about black people collectively being more stupid than any other people on the planet. I would have thought you as a Nigerian, with a strong cultural up-bringing would not have subscribed to that view.

    My father is a Nigerian, and I have visited Nigeria on several occasions. So I’m yet to be convinced that black people are on the whole dumber than anyone else.

    I will say this though, evasiveness, pomposity, arrogance, laziness, complacency, pettiness, greed and irresponsibility are all factors that have collectively brought the country and all it’s administrations down.

    I don’t know why that is, but it is a fact. Look at the figures you have published about Ghana and Cameroun (and they arent’ the most developed of African countries either) leaving Nigeria behind. Shame on Nigeria!! That is a further indictment to the people and the administrations of Nigeria.

    Why is is the leadership at any level on the whole in Nigeria is so bad? I agree with Mr Ikheloa in that blackman, casts aside many traditional values to embrace any foreign idea, be it good or bad. We can see that China, has not relinquished the idea of a one party state, but they are still successful. Similarly, Nigeria has to find it’s own way. Nigeria is not Saudi Arabia or the US. So there is no need in people trying to graft their systems of governance onto Nigeria in the hope that things will then work well.

    I will say that Nigerians have to stop being complacent and drop this idea that being over-populated dependent on a one-product economy is a good thing. The realisation must take root that the only way to wealth is planning and hard work. Something like the Brasilians have in their national flag “Order and Progress”. People will have to be patient and politicians,bureaucrats and officials must be watched carefully. After all the wealth of China didn’t arrive overnight. It has been decades in the making.

    Bringing God into the issue, further complicates things, and gives those who wish to take no action an excuse by saying “it’s in God’s hands”.

  • Thanks for the comments. The title I chose for the post would say a bit about why I decided to link to the story. My own column that I linked to at the end of the post also shows that I was referencing exactly the part that I quote. I don’t think black people are more stupid than any other people on the planet, and I don’t think that Ikheloa wrote that.

    That said, I agree with most of your comments. However, I don’t think that Nigerians are complacent. I tend towards looking at the micro activities in which people are involved, instead of only the macro-economic indicators. Those are absolutely important, but they sometimes give an unclear picture of what is happening in the country, and the rich and nuanced livelihood of the people.

  • Thanks for the comments. The title I chose for the post would say a bit about why I decided to link to the story. My own column that I linked to at the end of the post also shows that I was referencing exactly the part that I quote. I don’t think black people are more stupid than any other people on the planet, and I don’t think that Ikheloa wrote that.

    That said, I agree with most of your comments. However, I don’t think that Nigerians are complacent. I tend towards looking at the micro activities in which people are involved, instead of only the macro-economic indicators. Those are absolutely important, but they sometimes give an unclear picture of what is happening in the country, and the rich and nuanced livelihood of the people.

  • codliveroil

    Loomnie
    Thanks for responding.
    I agree at an individual level Nigerians are entrepreneurial. The question is what percentage do micro-economic activities contribute to government revenues? Something like 90% of all government revenue comes from oil and gas exports. This means that all this feverish activity at a micro-level, counts for as little as 10%.

    Sorry, for misunderstanding your take on the intelligence of black people when compared to others.

    You’ve posted some great topics, which I will take the time to read, like Mexico’s black people. I never knew there were any there, wow…

  • codliveroil

    Loomnie
    Thanks for responding.
    I agree at an individual level Nigerians are entrepreneurial. The question is what percentage do micro-economic activities contribute to government revenues? Something like 90% of all government revenue comes from oil and gas exports. This means that all this feverish activity at a micro-level, counts for as little as 10%.

    Sorry, for misunderstanding your take on the intelligence of black people when compared to others.

    You’ve posted some great topics, which I will take the time to read, like Mexico’s black people. I never knew there were any there, wow…