NOBODY OWES BLACKS ANYTHING: TRUTH, HONESTY & FRANKNESS by Dr. Chika
TRUTH, HONESTY AND FRANKNESS
BY DR. CHIKA ONYEANI
MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY'S
BILL OF RIGHTS/TRANSAFRICA CONVOCATION
THURSDAY DECEMBER 7, 2000
CARL MURPHY FINE ARTS AUDITORIUM
KEYNOTE SPEECH BY DR. CHIKA ONYEANI
AT THEMORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY'S
BILL OF RIGHTS/TRANSAFRICA CONVOCATION
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2000, 11: 00 A.M.
CARL MURPHY FINE ARTS AUDITORIUM, BALTIMORE
TOPIC: TRUTH, HONESTY AND FRANKNESS
President Earl Richardson, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, brothers and
sisters. I feel especially honored to be here today, in this great
institution. I must thank Dean Hollis, for inviting me to come here today. In
fact, the last time I was in Baltimore was at the Mid-Atlantic Writers
Association conference, and I had been invited by Prof. Grace Coffey to speak
about my book, CAPITATLIST NIGGER: The Road to Success - A Spider Web
Doctrine. My African sister, Yahne Sangarey, a member of the African Sun
Times staff as well as Curator, the African Museum in Baltimore here, had
arranged for me to participate in the "Global African Writers: The Ties that
Bind" of the United Nations African Project. The book was well received, and
when Dean Hollis offered to bring me here to speak with you, I wasn't sure
that his colleagues would have the courage to agree with his selection of an
author of such a controversial book and viewpoint. The fact that I am here
today is a testimony to the courage and progressive thinking of the members
of this institution. I thank you all and especially Dean Hollis for his bold
A lot of times when most of us present our polished resume, we forget to
mention the humble environment where we come from. Of course, I am no
exception. But I would be remiss if I didn't tell you a little bit about
myself other than what is in my resum. I come from Ohafia, a warrior group
of the Igbo national group in Nigeria. It is in a very remote area of the
country. When I was growing up, we attended school in make shift mud and hut
houses. Then, as it is still now today, we didn't have running water, and now
the electricity we have today hardly works one day in a month. For most of
us, books were a luxury, but when we got hold of one, we made sure that we
knew what was in it to pass our exams and move to the next class. In fact, I
am exceptionally lucky because I was one of those who hardly had books, even
exercise books, what you call notebooks here, not due to my parents not
providing the money for them, but due to my uncle's partiality to my cousin
who started school with me.
Needless to say my cousin was three classes behind me when we finished, and
even then I had set a goal of becoming somebody. I gave you that very short
resume just to say that no matter wherever you come from or from whatever
circumstances, you can achieve whatever goal you set your mind on. And
looking at you all, I know you are all very special and goal oriented,
otherwise you would not be sitting where you are now.Thousands of others have
abandoned their goals even before they started. I applaud you all.
My topic today is the Black Race - it is not about Africans from the
continent, or Africans in the Diaspora, or African West Indians, but about
the Black Race. My discussion is about truth, it is about honesty and
frankness. It is about no more lies, no more hiding the truth, and no more
blaming others for what is happening to the Black Race. It is about
accepting responsibility for our actions; it is about playing the same games
that others are playing and becoming very successful.
It is about being intelligent on how we make decisions where to spend our
hard earned money. It is about no more playing the blame game, and the
victim-mentality game. In this 21st century, we have to accept the truth of
our situation, and nothing but the truth, so help us God. There is nobody
more qualified to debate the state of the Black Race versus others, other
than you and I. We cannot, as usual, in our lackadaisical manner abandon
this debate to others with better access to the media.
In Africa, we have a saying that "when a child grows up, and he is able to
wash his hands, he should sit at the same table and eat with his elders."
The Black Race has grown up, we have washed our hands, but the question is
why are we not sitting at the same table to eat with our elders, in this
case, why are we not sitting at the same table with other races to eat from
the same table, why are we still eating from the floor?
Again, we have another saying in Africa that "you don't need a mirror to look
at what you are wearing on your wrist." You see, you can look at your wrist
and see clearly what you are wearing. You don't need a mirror to tell you
what time it is or to know what kind of jewelry you are wearing. But
unfortunately, we as a people, the Black race, prefer to look at what we are
wearing on our wrist with a mirror. Just try it, and you will see why we have
a very distorted image of our situation.
We are afraid of looking at the truth. We prefer the fuzzy image. We know
the truth, but we don't want to talk about it. Yes, we say to ourselves, we
cannot wash our dirty linen in the public; we cannot talk about the truth of
our situation, because white people are going to seize that as a weapon
against us. We believe that they will say, you see even the Blacks
themselves are saying what we have been saying all along. "They are lazy,
they are non-productive, they can't govern themselves, they are unruly, etc.
etc." Well, let me tell you the facts of life. That era of our not looking at
the truth in the face is dead, and gone.
This is the 21st century, if we are to believe what all the Y2K experts told
us; and I am happy that there is a genre of Blacks all over the world who now
believe that we, just like the Jews and others, must begin to wash our
so-called dirty linen in the public. Again, where I come from, there is
another saying that "you don't chase after a mouse when your house is on
fire." Just take a second to digest that statement. Because you know what
would happen if you started chasing after the mouse when the house is on
fire. You will perish and the mouse would have escaped. I am telling you
that the Black Race is like an inferno, we shouldn't be chasing after a
mouse. What we need is water, no, we need a whole ocean, to put out the
The word ruthless is regarded as a negative, when used to describe somebody's
action. But to me, that word ruthless is a very positive word. And that is
why I decided to be ruthlessly frank about the Black Race in my book,
Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success. No more hiding what people would say
about us. Their opinion is irrelevant and meaningless. Our situation is
critical and we need drastic action if we are to begin to discover and cure
the seemingly insurmountable virus devouring our whole organs of life. The
first bitter truth we have to accept, as I charged in my book, is that the
Black Race, as now constituted and though as endowed as the others, is a
non-productive race. We have to accept the fact that the Black Race, as
constituted, basically is a consumer race, depending on other communities for
our culture, our language, our feeding and our clothing.
And despite our abundance of natural resources, we are economic slaves
because we lack the "killer-instinct and devil-may-care attitude" of the
Caucasian and the "spider web economic mentality" of the Asian. The Black
Race is the most hospitable race of people I have ever seen. We will not
have any difficulty throwing out our own brothers or sisters just to
accommodate any other race, other than our own. We will rather be poor, let
our guests be comfortable.
But let me be totally sincere with you here. I am tired of a people who have
one mind set, complain and whine about what others do to us. We complain and
complain and whine and whine ad nauseam about what others have done to us and
are still doing to us. We think the world owes us something. I am sorry to
say that we are delusional. Nobody owes us a thing. Nobody is willing to give
up what they have, on the excuse that we want it. If you want something you
have to go out and get it. You cannot continue to beg for manna to fall from
heaven, my brothers and sisters. You know what, unfortunately manna never
falls from heaven. Let me tell you this.
Most African countries have been independent for more than 40 years. The
promise of independence is yet to be fulfilled and we had thought that Manna
would fall from heaven. But rather than manna falling from heaven, what we
have in Africa are wars, famine, disease, military dictatorships, human
rights abuses, despotic leaders who prefer to loot the peoples' treasuries
for their own personal aggrandizement, leaders who prefer to force the
adulation of the masses with the barrels of a gun rather than with the
provision of simple amenities to the people - like good roads, health care
facilities, good environment for learning and opportunities for employment.\
My brothers and sisters, I feel sad letting you know that Africa is worse off
today than when the colonial masters left. Everything we use in Africa is
imported. Do you know that we even still import candles from Taiwan? Yet 40
years after independence, we still blame our colonial masters for everything
that happens in Africa today. Our leaders are not men enough to accept
responsibility for the abject poverty of our people. We accuse Europeans of
plundering and pillaging the natural resources of Africa. But I ask you,
tell me, who are inviting them to do this, are they not our own people?
I am sure you have all heard of the late tyrants and dictators Sani Abacha of
Nigeria and Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the
Congo. Abacha stole more than $5 billion of the impoverished Treasury of
Nigeria and took that money and deposited it in Swiss Bank accounts. Since
his death, the Swiss authorities have "found" only $1.5 billion of that
money. On his part, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire took $6 billion to the same
Swiss banks. After he died, the Swiss have told us that they have only found
$7 million of that money. Tell me, which white man left Europe and took a
gun to their heads and forced them to steal $12 billion from a continent
where the per capita income is less than $500 per year? Do you know what $11
billion could have done for the starving and disease prone children in those
No, we cannot continue to accuse white people for everything happening to us.
At a certain point in time, we have to sit back and look in the mirror and
see the culprit of our misfortune. It is not the white, the red, the green,
the yellow or any other color. We are responsible for what is happening to
As Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success has charged, the Black Race is
drowning in the blame and victim-mentality game. We have three things we now
wear as body armor - slavery, colonialism and racism. We use these as
excuses for our failures. We blame all our failures on these three factors.
In Africa, we blame everything on colonialism and racism. In the Western
world, especially here in America, we blame everything on slavery and racism.
We have allowed these three factors to envelope us as a people. They are
attached to us, as the bee is attached to the honey.
When African leaders squander the peoples' money in buying up palaces in
Europe, rather than building infrastructure in their respective countries,
and the masses revolt, they blame the former colonial masters. When in this
country, we allow others to come into our neighborhoods and buy up our
businesses because we are stupid enough not to patronize our own people, we
blame it on racism forgetting that those who came into our neighborhood
started with almost nothing. But through our generosity and patronage, became
rich and then turn around to insult and disrespect us.
It is your fault, and it is mine as well. As I said in my book, we are not
even intelligent consumers, why, because we believe that the more we are
insulted and disrespected, the more respectable the people doing the
insulting, and the more we should patronize them.
Let me give you two examples here. We as a people spend approximately $40
million a day eating Chinese food. That is $40 million a day, and that comes
to about $15 billion a year. That's what we give to a community that
disrespects and insults us, and treats us like dogs. In most of our
communities where there are Chinese restaurants, they erect these barriers
between themselves and us, and pass our purchases through a hole as if they
are passing food to a savage dog. Yes, we all love Chinese food - it is also
cheap; but is it better to be investing $15 billion a year in a community
which treats you like a dog?
In economic terms, using the economic multiplier effect, we are actually
investing $120 billion a year into the Chinese community, and inversely
taking that much money out of own community. No wonder their children go to
the best schools, and they live in the best neighborhoods because we cannot
curb our taste and our laziness to cook for ourselves. Listen, I am not
advocating that we should boycott Chinese food, but I am saying there should
be a tit for tat. There should be reciprocity. And for all the billions we
give to the Chinese community, they don't even employ one Black person in the
ir establishments. I ask you, is that an intelligent way to spend our hard
earned money from the menial jobs that are left for us? I believe not.
As I said earlier the more we are insulted, the more we gravitate and
patronize the people doing the insulting to us. Let's take the Japanese for
instance. Two of their Prime Ministers, at different times, within a few
years apart, publicly stated that Blacks are inferior. Mind you, the Prime
Minister is like the President of the United States, the leader of the
Japanese people. Just imagine, if these leaders said that publicly, what the
Japanese really think about us. Yes, true to form, we protested their
calling us inferior. We hollered, and made them make some kind of feeble
apology. But what do we do in retaliation for the Japanese insulting us? We
reward them with purchasing $80 billion worth of their goods a year.
But while we are happily dishing out the little we don't have, the Asians
have perfected what I call the Spider Web Economic Doctrine, which is a
highly effective system of achieving economic power. Of course, I am sure you
all know what a Spider does? When it spins its yarns, any fly that tries to
enter its web is caught and never able to escape.
It is the same thing that happens in the Asian community. So, in my Spider
Web Economic Doctrine, when a dollar enters a community, it does not escape
from that community. It circulates within that community, and that is where
truly what economists call the "multiplier effect" is classically practiced.
Asians, especially Indians from India, are the greatest practitioners of the
Spider Web Economic Doctrine. When a dollar comes into their community, it
doesn't leave it. It circulates within their community, because the Indians
believe in patronizing one another. They don't eat other peoples' food. They
eat theirs. Their women hardly wear anything other than clothes made in
India, and even the suits their men wear are made in India. The Indian, and
other Asians, will travel hundreds of miles to patronize one another.
Let me tell you what this has done for the Indian community in America. When
they arrived in New York, long after continental Africans, they bought one
newsstand in New York City, and eventually took over all the major newsstands
in the City, including Grand Central, Penn Station and Ports Authority
stations. You have to pay them $3,000 just to get your newspaper into those
locations. From this, the Indians set their eyes on the taxi and limousine
industry of the City. They took over 90% of the medallions, and now control
most of the taxi and limousine services in the City.
Then from there, they set their eyes on the motel business. As has been
expansively written by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the
Washington Post, Newsweek, Forbes, Fortune Magazines, plus a plethora of
television network newscasts, the Indians control over 85% of the motel
business in America. According to the same sources, they are now poised to
take over most major five star hotels. In Silicon Valley, as has been well
chronicled, Indians control more than 750 high tech companies in the Valley,
with the result that several Indians are now billionaires. And are using
their wealth to create incubators in universities throughout India and
Pakistan to train future leaders in the high-tech age, for even now more than
50% of the professional visas awarded by the United States each year are
given to Indians. India, which got its independence barely nine years before
African countries, possesses nuclear power and exports a great deal to Africa.
The Spider Web Economic Mentality of the Asians have brought them enormous
wealth, respect, and insulated them from the idiotic vagaries of the white
man. It is the only economic doctrine I believe that is capable of rescuing
us out of the abyss of our present economic doldrums. Unfortunately, you and
I, as a people, have always believed that whatever a Black man produces must
be inferior. It is ingrained in us. We may not be conscious of it, but we
believe it nevertheless. For example, if we were to have two people, one
black and one white, open a store offering the same quality of goods and
service. We will not patronize the black store; rather we would go to the
white store, because we believe it is offering a superior product and service
just because of the color of their skin.
You can't pretend you don't do it. You do it, and I do it. It is even
reflected in how we see our professionals. Just go to doctors' offices.
When you go to a Black doctor's office. All you see are black faces. But, on
the other hand, go to a white doctor's office, and what do you see but black
faces more numerous than even white faces. The Black race must abandon its
current path to oblivion and total annihilation, its current practice of
wearing its success on its sleeves. As I said earlier, you don't chase after
a mouse when your house is on fire. We prefer to run before we walk, and
prefer the best things in life when we hardly have a penny in our bank
accounts. We prefer the Lexus, the Mercedes Benz, buying a $300 pair of
snickers for our grade school children, when we haven't put one dollar in
their education fund.
Rather than provide simple amenities to the people, African leaders prefer to
buy palaces in Europe, spend $10,000 a night at hotels around the world, and
ride in luxurious limousines. Unfortunately, Africa owes the world more than
$375 billion, and there is no place in Africa you could point to as evidence
of that money being used. That $375 billion translates to $5000 to pay back
for every African in a continent where the per capita income is less than
$500. In fact, you have more Mercedes Benzes in Africa than in Germany
My brothers and sisters, my message to you today is that I want the younger
generation of the Black Race to understand that they cannot carry the same
baggage the older generation has carried for so long: the notion that
somebody owes us something.
Well, let me be ruthlessly frank with you, my friends, nobody owes you
anything. Don't carry our baggage of whining, complaining and begging.
Nobody is willing to give up what they have. This world is about survival of
the fittest. If you want something you have got to get up and get it. We
must develop the same Spider Web Economic Mentality of the Asians, and the
killer-instinct and devil-may-care attitude of the Caucasian.
As I rightly observed in my book, we are as endowed as any other race of
people. We have to believe in ourselves. We have to believe in solving our
problems ourselves. We cannot continue to depend on others to do everything
for us. We have to become intelligent consumers; we need to become a
productive race. We must become economic warriors. As the general who led his
men into enemy territory did, we must destroy the transportation that brought
us into the enemy's territory. We must fight our way to victory or perish.
Let me honestly say this to you, my brothers and sisters: self-preservation
is not a sin. Look at the person next to you. We must think of ourselves as
superior individuals. There is nothing inferior about you or me. We must
adopt the Spider Web Economic Mentality: we must trap the dollars that come
into our community so that they could circulate within us.
As I charged in my book, if you and I were to be charged to the court of
public opinion, we would all be shot for the serious economic crimes we have
committed against the Black Race. We must atone for our sins. Therefore,
when you leave here today, resolve to buy black - it is a dynamic virtue.
We must stop wallowing in the feaces of slavery, colonialism and racism. For
me, the stench is too much, and I am getting out. I hope you join me in
getting out and breathing in the fresh air of ruthless honesty, truth,
freedom and the stupendous economic prosperity before us.
My advice to you is this: don't buy Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success,
if you are not willing to face the truth. It is a bitter brew to swallow,
but it is painfully uplifting.
Once again, I thank this great institution for asking me to speak on this
great occasion. I have been highly honored and humbled.