“You Lazy (Intellectual) African scum!”

You Lazy (Intellectual) African Scum!

“…Some still call it “the dark continent”…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…”

CONVERSATION BETWEEN A CAUCASIAN AND FIELD RUWE (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).

“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.”

..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 (racism).

“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.”

“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.” (a Zambian opposition leader and critic of Chinese investment,

Michael Sata, who emerged champion of the working class in Zambia’s

elections last September)

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 3 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 20 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 (second President of Botswana from 1980 to

1998, and a leading figure in the independence movement who played a

crucial role in facilitating and protecting Botswana’s steady financial

growth and development).

“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.

If you are African you need to read this and be educated

By Gambit Ck

January 23 at 10:00pm

Taken from Nigerian Info 99.3 fb page

You Lazy (Intellectual) African Scum!

“…Some still call it “the dark continent”…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…”

CONVERSATION BETWEEN A CAUCASIAN AND FIELD RUWE (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).

“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.”

..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 (racism).

“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.”

“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.” (a Zambian opposition leader and critic of Chinese investment,

Michael Sata, who emerged champion of the working class in Zambia’s

elections last September)

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 3 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 20 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 (second President of Botswana from 1980 to

1998, and a leading figure in the independence movement who played a

crucial role in facilitating and protecting Botswana’s steady financial

growth and development).

“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.

About cknaija

cknaija@twitter.com
This entry was posted in Reflection and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “You Lazy (Intellectual) African scum!”

  1. Pingback: September Topics part 1 | cknaija's Blog

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