Monday, January 23, 2012

No, Walter. You're Majorly Racist Wrong.

Ah, hello Afropessimism. It has been a while, old foe. I see that like most pathogens you have failed to die, and in fact taken on a whole new dimension of virulence. Now you're getting Generation Free Africans to sign on to your perspective.

You see, this just won't do. The single-narrative ahistorical account of African's development problems is part of the hegemonic package, isn't it? Especially when delivered by someone who is clearly morally bankrupt and on his way to service an economic 'hit' on Zambia. I have met these kinds of people, they are far creepier and more intellectually manipulative than Field Rue's account would suggest.

The old adage is true, you know: for a lie to be truly effective, you should only embellish things a little bit where you might get away with it. By all means, I concur: what on earth are African intellectuals and academics doing? Or not doing, as the case may be. As no one has bothered to do a scientific study of this diverse social group, I am comfortable offering a divergent view of African academics and intellectuals and development and colonialism than his.

First of all, the 'colonial history doesn't matter' argument is pure manure. I dare that bald Walter man to say that while standing in the middle of a Native American reservation, or to the chief of an Aboriginal tribe in Australia. If nothing else, at least Africans can thank genetics for a surprising physical resilience that survived systematic and sustained physical and psychological warfare of the most inhumane kind. My own beloved folks lived under an English-designed colonial apartheid system of job and education allocation before independence and I can still see the scars- how dare this man say that our history doesn't matter*? What he got right is this: our history shouldn't cripple us. It is time to rise out of the ashes, and all that.

Secondly, laying the whole burden of African development on the slim shoulders of a minute and extremely recent intellectual class is a bit of a gamble. By all means, call us out...within reason. There have been, and I count them: two. Precisely two generations of Africans trained in Western science, culture and art- with some struggle. What's worse is that they belong nowhere: our unmeritocratic governments avoid them because they are often too scrupulous, the West allows them to emigrate only after a decently long enough time to be assured of their economic loyalty, and their nationalists and leftists despise them because of an obsession with "class" distinctions drawn from the European Industrial Age. Tip of the iceberg: in Tanzania, Dr. Julie Makani recently won a pretty dope accolade for her research into Sickle Cell Anaemia. Erasto Mpemba discovered the Mpemba effect. This is world-class work, and both scientists live in Tanzania driven more by patriotism than economic sensibility. But who cares? Hint: not Bald Walter. He's too busy bribing Presidents.

But that's the third trick in How To Lie Effectively book, isn't it? Put the opposition on defensive if all else fails. By raising the issue of corruption, Bald Walter manages to make any respondent feel uncharitable. Here is where Feminism comes in handy: a lifetime of cracking the nuts off hostile opposition has taught me a survival trick or two. An important one is 'don't let them get you frothing at the mouth,' because then rationality goes out of the window and so does dialogue. So in that spirit, I say that if Bald Walter has the time and the inclination to do so, I would be delighted to hold this conversation at a deeper level face to face someday. Everyone deserves a second interpretation, even if they come across as DNA-deep racist, neocolonial, predatory, psychopathic economic mercenaries.

*So: The Jewish people of the world have Israel And Africans shouldn't raise the specter of colonialism (slavery, torture, trafficking, mass murder, etc) viz their current situation? I don't understand how that works. I don't understand how that's not racist. This is a genuine question. Please, somebody, explain it to me so it sticks.

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