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Sunday, 29 January 2012

Does the African Child who succumbs to conformity grow up to be the lazy intellectual scum

Hi its been a crazy start to the year, from one unfortunate event to the other..and its still JANUARY! I hope the rest of the year will bring peace and good tidings.

I have a list of books I would love to read and a few I read as a child but I would love to read as an adult. This internet culture certainly slowed down the reader in me but its not dead yet! LOL. I finally found four books on my list whilst at a conference in my current location. Glad I didnt have to order them all the way from Amazon. They are titled, Confessions of an economic hitman, The art of War, Power Thoughts and I dared to call him Father Between working almost 12hours, sometimes taking work home, trying to keep in touch with friends and family who are livid I dont contact more often and trying to keep drama away from where I reside, I shall read them!lol

So back to the title of this blog: I refer to an old post; The African, when he is a child, is mostly being groomed for conformity, first, by her/ his parents, then her/his relatives, and finally the society and its contents and try to link it certain points within the article titled "You Lazy (Intellectual) African Scum!" by Field Ruwe.

I can see how a child groomed to please the society, might turn out to just be intellectually lazy, with some feigning intellectual laziness just to save their lives! As it is, our society is riddled with corruption, bullying, lack of justice, poverty, selfishness, religious and ethnic intolerance. I think its about time our society evolve in such a way that every opinion is welcome and every idea is at least listened to if not acted upon. A lot of socio-economic advancements in the world we live in started from a single thought allowed to blossom, and most times such thoughts are best produced in the face of adversity!

Here is a reproduction of the article (still trying to figure out if 'article' is the correct description.) Enjoy

They call the Third World the lazy man’s purview; the sluggishly slothful and languorous prefecture. In this realm people are sleepy, dreamy, torpid, lethargic, and therefore indigent—totally penniless, needy, destitute, poverty-stricken, disfavored, and impoverished. In this demesne, as they call it, there are hardly any discoveries, inventions, and innovations. Africa is the trailblazer. Some still call it “the dark continent” for the light that flickers under the tunnel is not that of hope, but an approaching train. And because countless keep waiting in the way of the train, millions die and many more remain decapitated by the day.

“It’s amazing how you all sit there and watch yourselves die,” the man next to me said. “Get up and do something about it.”

Brawny, fully bald-headed, with intense, steely eyes, he was as cold as they come. When I first discovered I was going to spend my New Year’s Eve next to him on a non-stop JetBlue flight from Los Angeles to Boston I was angst-ridden. I associate marble-shaven Caucasians with iconoclastic skin-heads, most of who are racist.

“My name is Walter,” he extended his hand as soon as I settled in my seat.

I told him mine with a precautious smile.

“Where are you from?” he asked.


“Zambia!” he exclaimed, “Kaunda’s country.”

“Yes,” I said, “Now Sata’s.”

“But of course,” he responded. “You just elected King Cobra as your president.”

My face lit up at the mention of Sata’s moniker. Walter smiled, and in those cold eyes I saw an amenable fellow, one of those American highbrows who shuttle between Africa and the U.S.

“I spent three years in Zambia in the 1980s,” he continued. “I wined and dined with Luke Mwananshiku, Willa Mungomba, Dr. Siteke Mwale, and many other highly intelligent Zambians.” He lowered his voice. “I was part of the IMF group that came to rip you guys off.” He smirked. “Your government put me in a million dollar mansion overlooking a shanty called Kalingalinga. From my patio I saw it all—the rich and the poor, the ailing, the dead, and the healthy.”

“Are you still with the IMF?” I asked.

“I have since moved to yet another group with similar intentions. In the next few months my colleagues and I will be in Lusaka to hypnotize the cobra. I work for the broker that has acquired a chunk of your debt. Your government owes not the World Bank, but us millions of dollars. We’ll be in Lusaka to offer your president a couple of millions and fly back with a check twenty times greater.”

“No, you won’t,” I said. “King Cobra is incorruptible. He is …”

He was laughing. “Says who? Give me an African president, just one, who has not fallen for the carrot and stick.”

Quett Masire’s name popped up.

“Oh, him, well, we never got to him because he turned down the IMF and the World Bank. It was perhaps the smartest thing for him to do.”

At midnight we were airborne. The captain wished us a happy 2012 and urged us to watch the fireworks across Los Angeles.

“Isn’t that beautiful,” Walter said looking down.

From my middle seat, I took a glance and nodded admirably.

“That’s white man’s country,” he said. “We came here on Mayflower and turned Indian land into a paradise and now the most powerful nation on earth. We discovered the bulb, and built this aircraft to fly us to pleasure resorts like Lake Zambia.”

I grinned. “There is no Lake Zambia.”

He curled his lips into a smug smile. “That’s what we call your country. You guys are as stagnant as the water in the lake. We come in with our large boats and fish your minerals and your wildlife and leave morsels—crumbs. That’s your staple food, crumbs. That corn-meal you eat, that’s crumbs, the small Tilapia fish you call Kapenta is crumbs. We the Bwanas (whites) take the cat fish. I am the Bwana and you are the Muntu. I get what I want and you get what you deserve, crumbs. That’s what lazy people get—Zambians, Africans, the entire Third World.”

The smile vanished from my face.

“I see you are getting pissed off,” Walter said and lowered his voice. “You are thinking this Bwana is a racist. That’s how most Zambians respond when I tell them the truth. They go ballistic. Okay. Let’s for a moment put our skin pigmentations, this black and white crap, aside. Tell me, my friend, what is the difference between you and me?”

“There’s no difference.”

“Absolutely none,” he exclaimed. “Scientists in the Human Genome Project have proved that. It took them thirteen years to determine the complete sequence of the three billion DNA subunits. After they

were all done it was clear that 99.9% nucleotide bases were exactly the same in you and me. We are the same people. All white, Asian, Latino, and black people on this aircraft are the same.”

I gladly nodded.

“And yet I feel superior,” he smiled fatalistically. “Every white person on this plane feels superior to a black person. The white guy who picks up garbage, the homeless white trash on drugs, feels superior to you no matter his status or education. I can pick up a nincompoop from the New York streets, clean him up, and take him to Lusaka and you all be crowding around him chanting muzungu, muzungu and yet he’s a riffraff. Tell me why my angry friend.”

For a moment I was wordless.

“Please don’t blame it on slavery like the African Americans do, or colonialism, or some psychological impact or some kind of stigmatization. And don’t give me the brainwash poppycock. Give me a better answer.”

I was thinking.

He continued. “Excuse what I am about to say. Please do not take offense.”

I felt a slap of blood rush to my head and prepared for the worst.

“You my friend flying with me and all your kind are lazy,” he said. “When you rest your head on the pillow you don’t dream big. You and other so-called African intellectuals are damn lazy, each one of you. It is you, and not those poor starving people, who is the reason Africa is in such a deplorable state.”

“That’s not a nice thing to say,” I protested.

He was implacable. “Oh yes it is and I will say it again, you are lazy. Poor and uneducated Africans are the most hardworking people on earth. I saw them in the Lusaka markets and on the street selling merchandise. I saw them in villages toiling away. I saw women on Kafue Road crushing stones for sell and I wept. I said to myself where are the Zambian intellectuals? Are the Zambian engineers so imperceptive they cannot invent a simple stone crusher, or a simple water filter to purify well water for those poor villagers? Are you telling me that after thirty-seven years of independence your university school of engineering has not produced a scientist or an engineer who can make simple small machines for mass use? What is the school there for?”

I held my breath.

“Do you know where I found your intellectuals? They were in bars quaffing. They were at the Lusaka Golf Club, Lusaka Central Club, Lusaka Playhouse, and Lusaka Flying Club. I saw with my own eyes a bunch of alcoholic graduates. Zambian intellectuals work from eight to five and spend the evening drinking. We don’t. We reserve the evening for brainstorming.”

He looked me in the eye.

“And you flying to Boston and all of you Zambians in the Diaspora are just as lazy and apathetic to your country. You don’t care about your country and yet your very own parents, brothers and sisters are in Mtendere, Chawama, and in villages, all of them living in squalor. Many have died or are dying of neglect by you. They are dying of AIDS because you cannot come up with your own cure. You are here calling yourselves graduates, researchers and scientists and are fast at articulating your credentials once asked—oh, I have a PhD in this and that—PhD my foot!”

I was deflated.

“Wake up you all!” he exclaimed, attracting the attention of nearby passengers. “You should be busy lifting ideas, formulae, recipes, and diagrams from American manufacturing factories and sending them to your own factories. All those research findings and dissertation papers you compile should be your country’s treasure. Why do you think the Asians are a force to reckon with? They stole our ideas and turned them into their own. Look at Japan, China, India, just look at them.”

He paused. “The Bwana has spoken,” he said and grinned. “As long as you are dependent on my plane, I shall feel superior and you my friend shall remain inferior, how about that? The Chinese, Japanese, Indians, even Latinos are a notch better. You Africans are at the bottom of the totem pole.”

He tempered his voice. “Get over this white skin syndrome and begin to feel confident. Become innovative and make your own stuff for god’s sake.”

At 8 a.m. the plane touched down at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Walter reached for my hand.

“I know I was too strong, but I don’t give it a damn. I have been to Zambia and have seen too much poverty.” He pulled out a piece of paper and scribbled something. “Here, read this. It was written by a friend.”

He had written only the title: “Lords of Poverty.”

Thunderstruck, I had a sinking feeling. I watched Walter walk through the airport doors to a waiting car. He had left a huge dust devil twirling in my mind, stirring up sad memories of home. I could see Zambia’s literati—the cognoscente, intelligentsia, academics, highbrows, and scholars in the places he had mentioned guzzling and talking irrelevancies. I remembered some who have since passed—how they got the highest grades in mathematics and the sciences and attained the highest education on the planet. They had been to Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), only to leave us with not a single invention or discovery. I knew some by name and drunk with them at the Lusaka Playhouse and Central Sports.

Walter is right. It is true that since independence we have failed to nurture creativity and collective orientations. We as a nation lack a workhorse mentality and behave like 13 million civil servants dependent on a government pay cheque. We believe that development is generated 8-to-5 behind a desk wearing a tie with our degrees hanging on the wall. Such a working environment does not offer the opportunity for fellowship, the excitement of competition, and the spectacle of innovative rituals.

But the intelligentsia is not solely, or even mainly, to blame. The larger failure is due to political circumstances over which they have had little control. The past governments failed to create an environment of possibility that fosters camaraderie, rewards innovative ideas and encourages resilience. KK, Chiluba, Mwanawasa, and Banda embraced orthodox ideas and therefore failed to offer many opportunities for drawing outside the line.

I believe King Cobra’s reset has been cast in the same faculties as those of his predecessors. If today I told him that we can build our own car, he would throw me out.

“Naupena? Fuma apa.” (Are you mad? Get out of here)

Knowing well that King Cobra will not embody innovation at Walter’s level let’s begin to look for a technologically active-positive leader who can succeed him after a term or two. That way we can make our own stone crushers, water filters, water pumps, razor blades, and harvesters. Let’s dream big and make tractors, cars, and planes, or, like Walter said, forever remain inferior.

A fundamental transformation of our country from what is essentially non-innovative to a strategic superior African country requires a bold risk-taking educated leader with a triumphalist attitude and we have one in YOU. Don’t be highly strung and feel insulted by Walter. Take a moment and think about our country. Our journey from 1964 has been marked by tears. It has been an emotionally overwhelming experience. Each one of us has lost a loved one to poverty, hunger, and disease. The number of graves is catching up with the population. It’s time to change our political culture. It’s time for Zambian intellectuals to cultivate an active-positive progressive movement that will change our lives forever. Don’t be afraid or dispirited, rise to the challenge and salvage the remaining few of your beloved ones.

Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner and author. He is a PhD candidate with a B.A. in Mass Communication and Journalism, and an M.A. in History



Tam said...

our problem is our failed family unit;once our family unit is fixed our nation problems solved, matter closed

Asikia said...

@Tam: What is ur contribution toward putting ur unit of family in the right track in terms of solving our national problems???

Shehu said...

Nigeria is a colonial creation, the colonialist were more interested in the land they conqured and what it contained minus the human beings they met on the conquered land.

The colonialists defeated and subjugated all those they found on the conqured land to their control, they even renamed any rerource and any inhabitant they discovered or found as Nigerian and whenever they mention North, South or the ethnicity of a group on the conquered land, it was only to refer to a certain parcel of the land and nothing else. .....

The foregoing is the reality, we all have been in this colonial creation called Nigeria for about 100 years now.

Nobody wasted his time negotiating anything, Nigeria is a product of defeat and colonialism.

So whosoever is unhappy with this century old situation should DECOLONIZE first and then NEGOTIATE.

Belated ethnic nationalisms or the exergeration of current events to scare GEj won't ever help.

Martin Luther said...

‎''THE BUTCHERS OF NIGERIA'' BY PROFESSOR WOLE SOYINKA- Over the past year, Nigeria’s home-grown terror group, Boko Haram, has escalated its deadly attacks against Christian and government targets, with the aim of establishing a Sharia state in the country’s north.

Nearly 30 years ago, in the largely Christian heartland of a multi-religious Nigerian nation, and at that nation’s pioneer institution—the University of Ibadan—a minister of education summoned the vice-chancellor and ordered him to remove a cross from a site dedicated to religious worship. Some Muslims had complained, he claimed, that the cross offended their sight when they turned east to pray.

The don’s response was: “Mr. Minister, it would be much easier to remove me as vice-chancellor than to have me remove that cross.” Christians mobilised. A religious war was barely averted on campus. Today, the Christian cross occupies that same spot, with the Islamic star and crescent raised only a few metres away. As I observed at a lecture several years later, there has been no earthquake beneath, no convulsions of the firmament above that space, no blight traceable to the cohabitation of that spot by Christian and Muslim symbols.

I evoked that occurrence when the latest torch bearers of fanaticism—a group called Boko Haram—emerged. I did so to draw attention to the fact that religious zealotry is not new in the nation, nor is it limited to the “unwashed masses” who have been programmed into killing, at the slightest provocation or none, in the name of faith. Unfortunately, far too many have succumbed to the belligerent face of fanaticism, believing that any form of excess is divinely sanctioned and nationally privileged.

Sectarian killings—numbered in the thousands—preceded Boko Haram, much organised butchery, sometimes announced in advance, always tacitly endorsed by silence and inaction, escalating in intensity and impunity. It was consciousness of the geographical expansion and the increasingly organised nature of the fanatic surge and its international linkages that compelled me to warn on three public occasions since 2009 that “the agencies of Boko Haram, its promulgators both in evangelical and violent forms, are everywhere.

“Even here, right here in this throbbing commercial city of Lagos, there are, in all probability, what are known as ‘sleepers’ waiting for the word to be given. If that word were given this moment, those sleepers would swarm over the walls of this college compound and inundate us.”

Much play is given, and rightly so, to economic factors—unemployment, misgovernment, wasted resources, social marginalisation, massive corruption—in the nurturing of the current season of violent discontent. To limit oneself to these factors alone is, however, an evasion, no less than intellectual and moral cowardice, a fear of offending the ruthless caucuses that have unleashed terror on society, a refusal to stare the irrational in the face and give it its proper name—and response.

That minister was not one of the “unwashed masses.” He was, quite simply, the polished face of fanaticism. His prolonged career as Secretary of the Nigerian Universities Commission and Minister of Education inflicted on the nation a number of other policies of educational separatism that left a huge swath of Nigeria open to fanatic indoctrination.

- This article was first published in the NEWSWEEK Magazine, January 16, 2012 edition.

Martin Luther said...


Yes, indeed, economic factors have facilitated the mass production of these foot soldiers, but they have been deliberately bred, nurtured, sheltered, rendered pliant, obedient to only one line of command, ready to be unleashed at the rest of society. They were bred in madrasas and are generally known as the almajiris. From knives and machetes, bows and poisoned arrows, they have graduated to AK-47s, home-made bombs, and explosive-packed vehicles. Only the mechanism of inflicting death has changed, nothing else.

This horde has remained available to political opportunists and criminal leaders desperate to stave off the day of reckoning. Most are highly placed, highly disgruntled, and thus highly motivated individuals who, having lost out in the power stakes, resort to the manipulation of these products of warped fervour. Their aim is to bring society to its knees, to create a situation of total anarchy that will either break up the nation or bring back the military, which ruled Nigeria in a succession of coups between the mid 1960s and the late ’90s.

Again and again, they have declared their blunt manifesto—not merely to Islamise the nation but to bring it under a specific kind of fundamentalist strain. Rather than act in defence of Nigeria’s Constitution, past rulers have cosseted the aggressors for short-term political gains.

However, those who have tweaked the religious chord are discovering that they have conjured up a Frankenstein. Arrogance has given way to fear. The former governors of the northern states of Gombe and Borno wasted no time in issuing full-page advertorials in the media, apologising to Boko Haram when the latter issued threats against them for their alleged role in the deaths of the group’s members at the hands of security forces in 2009.

They had precedent. It was in Nigeria, after all, that a deputy governor, later backed by his superior, pronounced a fatwa on a Nigerian citizen in 2002: “Like Salman Rushdie, (her blood) can be shed. It is binding on all Muslims, wherever they are, to consider the killing of the writer as a religious duty.”

That was the fallout from a beauty contest in Abuja that drew the ire of some Islamic extremists. Reacting to the mayhem, a female journalist had speculated that, were the Prophet Muhammad alive, he might have selected one of the contestants for wife. For that alleged blasphemy, hundreds, guilty only of innocently pursuing a living, were massacred by hordes of fanatics, who were mostly bussed into the capital for organised violence. The president went grovelling before the presumably offended elite.

It was the same governor of an impoverished state called Zamfara who unilaterally commenced the separatist agenda that turned parts of Nigeria into theocracies under a supposed secular Constitution. His whim was indulged, his political support was courted by the then-sitting president, obsessed with prolonging his tenure. The governor, now turned senator, was also caught as a serial pedophile.

Challenged in the media, he boasted that the Quran was above the Constitution, and thus he was not subject to laws that criminalised copulation with underage children or, indeed, cross-border sex trafficking, of which he was equally accused. He was neither censured by his fellow senators nor placed on trial. His followers have taken their cue from his declaration, convinced that the greater the crime, the greater its deserving of immunity.

- This article was first published in the NEWSWEEK Magazine, January 16, 2012 edition.

Martin Luther said...


How many of the hundreds of cases of impunity need one cite, with their corresponding gestures of appeasement? Where does one begin? Can the Nigerian police or judicial records reveal how many were prosecuted when a man called Gideon Akaluka was beheaded, his head paraded on a stake through the streets of Kano in northern Nigeria, for allegedly desecrating the Quran? It turned out no such offence had been committed.

Nor has there been a single arrest in the secondary school where an invigilating teacher, a Mrs. Oluwasesin, was stripped naked, beaten, and then “necklaced”—set on fire by students for allegedly “treating the Quran with disrespect.” Her real crime? She had confiscated a Quran—and, incidentally, a Bible as well—from cheating students during a paper on religious studies. How does one convey scenes where killers perform ritual recitations before or after the meticulous throat-slitting of school children, in the conviction that this carries the same potency of immunity as papal indulgences once did in the decadent era of Christianity?

For decades, leaders of those communities remained mute or uttered pietisms. Now the foot soldiers have matured on the taste of blood. They understand the essence of power. Some have come to realise they have been programmed, used, abused, and discarded. Now they seek to exercise power and have turned on all, mentors and appeasers alike.

Nigeria is at war. The Somalia scenario nibbles at her cohesion. When we insisted that the nation had become a prime target of al Qaeda, the reply was that Boko Haram was a home-grown phenomenon—as if this were ever the question!

The reality is that it has, inevitably, developed ties with al Qaeda and its borderless company of religious insurgency. Only a few have sown the wind, but that wind was fanned by the breath of appeasement. Only one choice remains: to ride, or else reap, the whirlwind.

- This article was first published in the NEWSWEEK Magazine, January 16, 2012 edition.

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Ginger said...

Wahala, i thought we were talking of intellectual scum not BH?

you raise a valid point Mena. the Nigeria i know cannot raise a Bill Gates/Richard Branson. The parents would have made him feel so worthless for even thinkin of dropping out of school. today they would have been Dr Bill and Richard. yep, conformity rules as creativity is killed..

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Mena UkodoisReady said...

Thanks for all your comments, even those that went off..I was able to learn from all of them.

Thanks also for the compliments, I sincerely appreciate them

with lots of luv


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