[image above is of author Chinweizu, and was found here]
[For the website with the original post, please click here.]
Nigeria and White Supremacy
A Letter in Response to "Nigeria A Failed State in the Making?"
My impression in reading Chinweizu is that Nigeria, despite its oil wealth, is not a model African state because of "white supremacy." I derive this impression or conclusion from this Chinweizu statement:
"White power controls Black Africa today through country presidents, generals, company directors and Board chairmen who are all black. White supremacy, as a matter of historical record, does not disappear with the emergence of even a complete phalanx of black office holders. For example, Nigeria is under the thumb of white supremacy, though it has been ruled for some 50 years by black Heads of State, all-black legislatures, all-black armies, etc." (Chinweizu, Commentary in "The Death of White Supremacy?")
From Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh we get an entirely different perspective on Nigeria. He concludes in his Nigeria A Failed State in the Making? that the Nigerian governments and its officials, especially, and its "populaces" are the causes of the lack of support for general free education and other deteriorating aspects in Nigeria, rather than "white supremacy."
Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh allows that there probably should have never been a Nigeria. He says, “The country Nigeria was an imposition. . . . our constitution was an imposition.” Ogbunwezeh points out, “Just like in Animal Farm, we exchanged our slavery to British official whims to the capricious and monumental indiscretions of Nigerian politicians. This exchange created a crop of home-grown colonial Lords, who exploit the people like their former Lords did.”
That is to say, Ogbunwezeh does not allow Nigerians to escape their responsibilities for the present state of their conditions: “The home-grown masters have now new masters: namely their inordinate greed. They shipped their loot to Switzerland; housing it in numbered accounts. The rape of the country assumed the same trajectory in both epochs. Our local pirates in some space of four decades succeeded in out-performing the colonial masters in greed, thievery and plunder of our commonweal.”—Rudy
Like Neely Fuller, Jr. said, "If you don't understand white supremacy—what it is, and how it works—everything else that you understand will only confuse you."
The picture painted by Franklyn, though illuminating as far as it goes, does not go far enough. It is like a picture of a train that leaves out the engine. To complete the picture we need to add the role of the white supremacy institutions of the new imperialism in initiating and maintaining the disaster that is Nigeria.
If we understood the devious ways of white supremacy, in this stage of what Nkrumah called "Neo-colonialism", we would see that my account and Franklyn's are not contradictory or alternative accounts, but are complementary. Franklyn describes the body of the snake, I pointed at its head )albeit in passing, in the context of our discussion of white supremacy). The combined and fuller picture allows us to see how the mess in Nigeria serves a white supremacy which manipulates Nigeria through institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, the UN agencies, The (British) Commonwealth, which link Nigeria to the global system of white supremacy.
Nigeria, like other black African countries, has been misruled by local Black Comprador Colonialists whose paramount interest is to preserve the subordination of their countries to the imperialist interests of their "former" colonial masters. It is that subordination that permits them to loot their own people for their imperialist masters, and allows them, as the junior partners and agents of imperialism, to keep a share of the loot, which is their own consuming interest.
Of course, to that end they have frustrated, in their own local interests, any attempt to develop an autonomous polity that is answerable to its own people, that responds to the will/desires of its own people. A Nigerian polity that responds to its own people would have less to hand over to the imperialist masters, and would come under imperialist pressure and attacks. A current example is Mugabe's Zimbabwe. For so long as Mugabe did not try to take back the land stolen by the whites, he was okay. But when he began to respond to his people's land hunger, he became a pariah and came under sanctions and destabilization from the white supremacist powers like the UK, the USA and the EU.
In contrast, Nigeria, under Obasanjo, handed to the foreign creditors a whopping $12bn to allegedly get Nigeria debt-free (which it did not) while leaving Nigeria with badly decayed roads, power supply, education, etc. that still need massive capital injection to refurbish them. Needless to say, the debt-free mirage was just a scam. Nigeria is still not debt free and still goes aborrowing.
But since Obasanjo was a loyal servant to the white imperialist powers, he had a free hand to rig elections, sack villages that contested his misrule (e.g., Odi in the Niger Delta was sacked by Obasanjo's soldiers), and to loot to his greed's content. By the way, the bulk of the loot from what is misnamed "corruption" gets stashed away in the banks of Europe and America, thus adding to the total plunder that the imperialists extract. In that way, even the much decried corruption of the Nigerian elite ends up serving the white powers. It also bribes the Black compradors with part of the imperialist loot so they don’t buck the system.
We need to keep this fuller picture in view if we are to understand the so-called "failed state" of Nigeria. Nigeria, from the viewpoint of its population, is a failed state, has always been a failed state, i.e., a state that has failed to serve them or address their interests. And it has been that way right from its founding by the British a century ago. But it is not yet a failed state from the standpoint of its British and other imperialist masters. It has always served the white power interest, and consistently, at the expense of the interests of its population, during both the period of White Expatriate colonialism which ended in 1960, and the period of Black Comprador colonialism that began in 1960. We need to be ever mindful of these two senses of the phrase “failed state”.
Incidentally, though Nigeria is financially in a position to give free education to all its citizens—let’s leave aside the matter of the damaging white supremacist content of that education—part of why it does not do so is that much of its resources is pumped abroad to the coffers of the white supremacists through "debt" repayments and the routine looting by the foreign companies and their Nigerian comprador agents. If Obasanjo had chosen to apply to Nigeria's needs the $12bn he eagerly handed over to the white shylocks, there would be more than enough funds for the free education Franklyn is talking about, and for much else.
Nigeria could become like Kuwait, Dubai etc., or even like Cuba, if it organized to use its oil earnings in the interest of its population. But for 50 years, the Black comprador colonialists have not seen fit to organize that. With their Eurocentric education and blancophile brainwashing and their mental allegiance to White supremacy, they have fallen for every conman advice that the white supremacists gave them on "development", especially through the IMF and the World Bank and the foreign aid outfits like Britain's ODA and America's USAID.
The ways of white supremacy are comprehensively devious. In fact one of its uses for the "independence" imperialism granted its colonies was to enable it to deny responsibility for what its Black comprador agents do to their own people, even though it is all part of what they are prompted and encouraged to do for the continuing imperialist plunder of these "ex-colonies". These black misgovernments are serving as monkey's paws and fall guys for the plundering of Black Africa by and for the white powers.
Like the Black Slavers in the era of the Chattelization Wars, a.k.a. the Slave Trade, and like the plantation overseers and house niggers of ante-bellum USA, the Black colonialists of today operate within the framework and mandate given them by white supremacy, but they add their own peculiar twists to the master's mandate. The executive anarchism of the Nigerian comprador elite just happens to be, perhaps, the most abominable of these local twists to the basic mandate given by white supremacy to its local black agents.
We all need to continually deepen and update our understanding of white supremacy and its manifold and morphing ways if we are to see its dominant and directing roles in our condition. We also need to understand the roles of its black colonialist agents among us, and their own special contributions to the mess. If you want more insights into the Nigerian case, I can send you "Black Colonialists"—an interview I did two years ago on the roots of the trouble with Nigeria. You could also read The West and the Rest of Us, for insights on the ways and means of white supremacy especially during the post WWII transition to Black colonialism in Africa.
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Nigeria: White Supremacy, Criminal or Traitorous Behavior
Chinweizu, the criminal and corrupting behavior of African heads of state, I suspect, existed long before there was the British, the French, or the Americans. This point was made by the Malian writer Yambo Ouologuem in his novel Bound to Violence and in his 1971 interview in Commonweal. Yambo said, "It was the black aristocrat who made black people become Negroes. If you look at the entire history, you find there were three stages of oppression: blacks oppressing blacks, Arabs oppressing blacks, and whites oppressing blacks" (Yambo Ouologuem). So we have come full circle. Now we have again "blacks oppressing blacks."
There has always been a "global" struggle for resources and power. Indeed that struggle has "morphed" in magnitude and character. And there probably has always been enticements from foreign powers. But because there are external enticements (say from the West), there is no reason to conclude that the enticing power (say USA or France or UK or white global corporations like oil companies) or the powers that lend some sort of assistance in a nation's reign (say China's recent sale of tanks to the Khartoum government) that we can conclude that that nation (say Nigeria or Sudan or South Africa) is a mere puppet of foreign influence (the agents of "white supremacy").
Nigerian (or South African or Sudanese) leaders made political decisions—without an American gun at their heads, or a French tank on the lawn of government house, or UK threats of invasions—about Nigeria (or South Africa or Sudan), its people, its economies, its internal development. We (Nigeria or South Africa or blacks leaders in the diaspora) will never have a situation in which there will be no foreign power that will not provide enticements as well as threats. The onus of the national oppression problem settles on black leaders and heads of state, not on the heads of foreign states or the heads of global corporations.
If you want to call the present black national oppression, "neo-colonialism," okay. But do not make a fool of us and common sense and say that this neo-colonialism was instituted and is sustained by "white supremacy" and there is nothing these leaders can do about it. If you insist on doing so, you must offer much more evidence of this "Black Comprador" relationship in which black leaders are being compelled to oppress and murder their own people and that they are receiving direct payments from Western corporations and Western states to do so.
As you have pointed out with regard to the Khartoum government, it is not so much that they are subject to the foreign powers who sustain "Arab Supremacy," that is, that they are not puppets of Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Syria, but rather that their heads are filled with Islamic political ideology that they are willing to slaughter and displace their own citizens because of native greed. If you are suggesting that the heads of states for Nigeria and South Africa are operating in such a was as they are in oppressing their native populations because their heads are filled with foreign ideologies and greed, I might agree. But that indeed is a far cry from saying that Nigeria and South Africa are the puppets of "white supremacy."
Chinweizu, your view of "white supremacy" as the primary culprit in Nigeria or South Africa's present difficulties is essentially different from that of Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh, who says, “The home-grown masters have now new masters: namely their inordinate greed. They shipped their loot to Switzerland; housing it in numbered accounts. The rape of the country assumed the same trajectory in both epochs. Our local pirates in some space of four decades succeeded in out-performing the colonial masters in greed, thievery and plunder of our commonweal” (my italics).
That is, you place your emphasis on external influence and puppetry (rather than traitorous behavior), whereas Ogbunwezeh places his emphasis on a problem of internal governance and national or individual character (that is, criminality). If you eliminate such individuals whose emphasis is greed for money and power, he implies, Nigeria and South Africa and others such black states have a greater possibility of building up individuals who dwell on the true and good and thus the likelihood of developing model states. The political problem is not across the ocean but much closer to home.—Rudy
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Pre-Obama White Supremacy
I have Pre-Obama thoughts about "white supremacy". I have been thinking about this phrase "white supremacy" for a long time, especially ever time you, Rudy, have brought it up again and again to prove your several points about it. Almost three years ago, your arguments suggested that you believed it existed in large measure. Lately, you seem to be arguing from the point of greater responsibility among Blacks, as if White Supremacy is not monolithic. Then I noticed that I tended to agree with both the new you and with Chinweizu, which really made no sense to me. How could both of you be correct, I thought?
But then, lately, as I have tried to imagine a pre- and a post-Obama America, I have come to this conclusion: Even where and when only one of us in America or the world is confused about White Supremacy's existence, that confusion suggests that White Supremacy's hegemony over us is, indeed, in our cognitive struggles. The thing about this white supremacy is that even if it were never again practiced—if white America did nothing to racialize us ever again—it would not cease to exist. Its greatest control over us is in making us think that it does not exist in any degree any longer.
Here is my best example of why I believe it does exist in a palpable way and does hold sway over our cognitive activity. Remember—my example does not assume that there is a Barack Hussein Obama on the horizon. If Obama becomes our next President and proves to be what we hope he will be for all America, then my example may no longer make sense (for me at least).
So here's my pre-Obama thinking about white supremacy: It does not matter one iota which party is in the White House. And it does not matter which Ray Nagin or Tavis Smiley or Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or Mark Morial or black police chief or black school board superintendent is in position. No, it especially does not matter which party is in the White House! When the Democrats or the Republicans lose the White House, the outgoing party—all the aides and staff people, and some Congress administrators and members—spreads out into the Greater Washington, D.C., or into home states, and assumes lucrative appointments.
They simply await their turn to return. Nothing transformative emerges. And then the next party gets in, and the outgoing folks take up their appointments in the land and await their turn to return. Nothing transformative emerges. The two parties simply swap positions, dust off the chairs, and assume business as usual in this land of free-market politics.
And Black on Black crime in America and Africa continues to increase. You can not convince me that down in our counties and cities and states, and among the tribal and sectarian divisions of Africa, that we cannot halt crime on this planet. I am convinced that Supremacy does not want to stop it, because it's the best way to rid the planet of unwanted peoples—just let them kill one another. Let them die on dope and sadness and religious slogans.
It is because the face of White Supremacy is sometimes also black that we think that White Supremacy is diminishing and that we are our own responsibility. But it's the same lesson being perpetrated over and over again! We argue about its existence while it exists. We commit crimes against one another while it exists. We are still as a nation and as an African continent on lesson one. Supremacy was our first teacher in the New World and all we are doing is mimicking our First Teacher.—Mackie
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Two Aspects of White Supremacy: Practice and Cognitive
My changed view on "white supremacy" surfaced in 2008 after Iowa voted for Barack Obama. So it is a recent thinking. It's an inward questioning that is going on. In some sense in these correspondences and editorials, I’m thinking out loud. I expected that in Iowa Obama would come in at best in third. He came in first. It shocked me and many others Americans—black and white. I concluded that white people I had in my head did not correspond to actual white people in America. This vote suggested that no position in America existed that a black person could not occupy. In short, that Jim Crow politics and any extension of it were dead in America.
Your view of “white supremacy” is most serious and thoughtful, especially since it is not wholly and entirely political as was the case with my previous discussions in the pieces Nigeria and White Supremacy and The Death of White Supremacy? Yours is a far more nuanced perspective. That’s the path, I think, we should take by necessity if we are to be fair and balanced in talking to ourselves and talking to white people about "white supremacy."
For one of the truisms of Obama's rhetoric, I believe, is that we Americans (black and white) are more alike than different and that white Americans are more accepting of black Americans than we think. The former hostilities and hatreds and prejudices are declining rapidly, especially among the younger generations, who have had no experience of Jim Crow or no sense what it was really like, as we of our generation have no real sense of the antebellum slave world of the Southern states, except through literature.
You have broken "white supremacy" up into two aspects 1) as practiced and 2) as cognition. In some sense I can testify to both aspects. The first relates to the palpable easily perceivable racial exclusion whose basis is the inferiority of the Negro; in short, that the Negro is another species of being who should not be granted the same rights and privileges of citizenship as whites. I was raised in this segregated world and observed and experienced it in separate educational facilities and in transportation on buses between southern Virginia and Baltimore. I had little or no contact with whites except in public places, at stores or in the fields of work.
Jim Crow politics laid the ground and conditioned my adulthood. It only began to change as I was making my way to college with the federal passage of the 1964 and 1965 racial integration laws. Probably by the 1980s they were more or less fully in force. But my Jim Crow conditioning was not fully wiped away. As Dick Gregory pointed out recently, he hears a police siren behind him and he holds the steering wheel tighter and when the police car passes him by he thanks God. I do not think that black kids today have the racial fears that their grandfathers have or had. So in some sense I see this as the cognitive aspects to which you referred.
That is, that "white supremacy" exists in our minds and hearts because of its former palpable existence in our lives and that our recognition of it was a means of survival. Possibly older whites retain some of this white skin privileging and wish for its return. But for many blacks every act or symbolical aspect of racism reminds us of its former sway and the possibility of its resurfacing with its former sway. One might compare this mental state to those Jews who survived the reign of Hitler or their descendants and that any or the slightest hint of anti-semitism unsettles, whether that person is a practicing Jew or whether he or she has only a Jewish grandmother.
Now for the second part. I suppose indeed that "white supremacy" can have a black face if that means that a black person can assert racist opinions with respect to blacks and commit racist acts against blacks. But these are insignificant vestiges or shadows of that which was a state of white supremacy. There were such persons as Anglo-Africans, but often these persons were also black nationalists and Pan Africanists, such as Alexander Crummell, the mentor of W.E.B. Du Bois, who thought that English should be the language that all Africans should adopt and who thought as well very little of African languages. Of course, he did not view blacks as inferior, which I think one must assert as the key aspect of white supremacy.
Have we eliminated every vestige of racism in our society? No. Will racists with white supremacy views continue to exist? Yes. Are there sick white people who receive pleasure from black deaths and suffering? Possibly.
The world we grew up in has changed, Mackie. We are far beyond the world of our childhood. Many more opportunities exist now for blacks and their children. The world is changing quickly for better and worse, but not necessarily in the old categories of the past. Admittedly, race and ethnic distinctions will for sometime yet be used in economic exploitation and for political positioning. They have some impact in our justice and educational systems which remain in great need of reform.
But many of these problems are the result of economic policies that have been signed onto ignorantly or thoughtlessly by both blacks and whites, for more selfish economic reasons than for racial reasons, though these policies may have an anti-black impact. For instance, there are too many Americans working more than 60 hours a week for less than $10 an hour. Deregulation of the economy and anti-union practices have had an impact on the expansion of the criminal justice system as well as deleterious impact on the education system, and have had a greater impact on blacks than whites, for blacks started farther down the ladder of success because of past racial crimes.
In turn, blacks have to adapt at a quicker rate to cultural, economic and political changes. As presently organized, American society, less tolerant, provides fewer chances for catching up. This new state of things requires more restraint, more focus, more discipline, more discretion. These internal changes cannot be organized on the basis of racial pride. There might indeed be too much racial pride, especially of the warped kind. Immigrants are coming into the country and on the basis of character they are out achieving our young men and women.
These positive acts of awareness and social consciousness by politicians, religious, social and business leaders, I think, combined with a friendlier economy of corporate regulation for the working man will cut into those markings and statistics that ideologues brandish as emblematic of the existence of white supremacy.—Rudy
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What you are ignoring is the fact that 90% of Black people in any Western culture are also "White Supremacist".You can't be Culturally British or Culturally French or Culturally American without being "White Supremacist".In Africa, as well, a very large portion of the most Colonized areas are made up of people who have a "Quasi White Supremacist" mentality. The fact that they still have their own languages, traditions, names, etc. is what keeps them from being totally WS, but they are still carriers.
The description you gave of Blacks and our "self-undoing" is true, but then so is Chinweizu's argument.
Otherwise, why would 90% of black women wear processed hair? Why would 90% of black men desire Mulatto women and consider them black? Why do we accept the idea that Mulatto OBAMA is to be the "first Black President" when in fact he's the first "Biracial" President? We accept all of this, because we, too, harbor White Supremacist belief systems. You can't have a SEXIST society, Rudy, unless the Mothers of the boy children are also predominately sexist.
You can't have a EUROCENTRIC society unless most of the people in it adhere to Eurocentrism.
How many Black men in America dress in African garb every day, Rudy? How many Black men in America have endeavored to speak an African language in their daily lives? No, to be culturally American, is White Supremacy itself.
Who is featured in the Black man's music videos, Rudy? The white man's mother (or an imitation of her).—Kola
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Kola, I love you too much to argue with you.
But let me say this. All the instances of incongruence you point out are in some ways humorous and point out contradictions in the racialized life of the modern as well as the post-modern world, and attempts to reconcile them. They are one might say hangovers passed down from an experience of white supremacy. Or they are the result of nonwhites living in a society in which the majority of the population is of European extraction. Most of the acts you have chosen to highlight are choices rather than impositions. Some of them I do not care for but I find most tolerable or desirable.
I am culturally an American. And I in no way consider the popular culture "white," neither in its music, its dance, its speech, in contemporary art, in body language, its food, its literature, even in its dress. The cultures of the world have come to this land and found a place. American culture is, what they say in New Orleans, a gumbo, very unique and very global.—Rudy
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Rudy, I love you, too, King.
Feel free to argue with me anytime, because I respect your opinion so much. You and Chinweizu are my Lion Kings. Also feel free to curse me out. If people could actually see my movements, facial expressions and tone of voice when I say things they find "volcanic"---they would see that I am a comical, loving wise-talking black mother. Not the serious bitch they envision. I am always prepared to change my mind, but no one ever tries to change it. They fear me. Which is ridiculous. My thing is this—I love my people. You are one of my favorite ones.
On another note: Rudy, I still have not gotten the book deal that my agent expected,therefore, I am not able to send you the money I had planned just yet. Hold tight, however, because it will happen.—Kola
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Blame-mongering vs. Factor-analysis
First of all, let me make it clear that I am not interested in "blame". I am a scientist, my interest is in investigating the factors relevant to a phenomenon, not in assigning blame. I HOPE YOU UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE!!! Blame mongering is for moralizers; factor analysis is for problem solvers."—Chinweizu
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Chinweizu, Is "white supremacy" some unembodied phenomena unattached to persons that one studies like one studies say AIDS? The social sciences are among the weakest and most inexact of sciences and some might say that it is not science at all, except when statistics are used. In any case, all science must in some way deal with morality and ethics, especially when one is dealing with human behavior.
I did not note any factor analysis in your expositions. What stood out was racial ideology."—Rudy
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Rudy, I suspect Chinweizu thinks that your goal or end in everything you write is to establish blame. I think he believes that that is your conclusion and not one of your several premises leading up to a more significant facor. So you need to clear that up. Of course, one way to clear all of this up is for all of us to keep reading Chinweizu and you. So, for me, you do not need to withdraw your own personal take on Chinweizu's scholarship.
I am sure—well, certainly, I hope—that when Chinweizu calms down and thinks about it, he'll reason that while scholars can have no hold, outside of the classroom, over how readers process, experience, interpret, read their scholarship. Chinwezu calls his work factor analysis. Rudy suggests -- for him as a reader—that Chinwezu's work is blame analysis, and Rudy does not mean this negatively.
Failure analysis might be a better term, because the way factor analysis is used in the "The West and the Rest" scholarship—whether the term is mentioned in the scholarship to hand or not, these texts concentrate on the failure of the West against Islam.
There is a whole slew of The West and the Rest texts in print. Here are just two Google lists.
Chinweizu's work is, indeed, a comprehensive example of factor analysis. Whether implemented in the physical or mathematical or psychological or sociological sciences, factor analysis reduces the plethora of variables under observation and discussion by grouping and then analyzing these variables down to the most overarching category or factor. What Chinweizu has published on this web site certainly amounts to being very excellent examples of factor analysis in the social sciences, particularly on the clash of civilizations between the West and the Rest.
This West and the Rest scholarship—not necessarily Chinweizu's, I hasten to add—is usually framed as The West and the Rest Against Us. The rest here are the Arab or Islamic lands. Roger Scruton's work falls into this frame:
http://www.morec.com/scruton/ [VIDEO LECTURE]
Chinweizu's scholarship, I believe, analyzes the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial criminality of Africans against their own people and sets this criminality up side by side with that of the West in equal weight and measure. He points out the failure in both our houses. He does not blame. He shows where and how we have all failed. That said, if readers wishes to use this scholarship to place blame where blame may need to be placed, these readers need to reveal what end they have in mind. We already know that the goal or end of most of the The West and Rest scholars is to privilege Christianity over Islam, the West over the Rest.
I would also suggest that Chinweizu could be more forthcoming and reveal his underlying end in his scholarship. What motivates him to do this scholarship and not some other kind? What end does he want to accomplish? Surely, his aim is not only "objective scientific scholarship." We have known far too long now that such a motivation driving our scholarship is a myth. Everything has subconscious as well as conscious slant.
A BUDDHIST ANALYSIS OF FAILURE (BLAME/FACTOR) ANALYSIS http://www.bpf.org/tsangha/loy-westrest.html