The Capitalist Nigger is coming to Namibia

WHEN I read the review of Chika Onyeani’s book, Capitalist Nigger, in the February edition of Prime Focus this year, I was forced to hunt for the book. Upon purchasing the book, it took me through cycles of denial, anger, frustration, mirth, more anger and many flashes of realisation.

Now, the man who wrote this book about how “black people have not the tenacity to win in the cut throat world of business,” is coming to Namibia to explain what he meant and how African entrepreneurs can benefit from his Spider Web Doctrine.

The first thing that strikes you about Capitalist Nigger is, of course, the title. You pick the book up because it slaps you in the face. In the interest of political correctness you may not even be able to read the title comfortably. Capitalist N Word perhaps?

But there is nothing politically correct about Chika Onyeani or his book. He says it as it is. Period. “I want to be called a Capitalist Nigger,” read the first words of the book. “I know this is a phrase which is going to offend a lot of my group. I don’t care.”

He writes, “Africans are not forceful people,” he says in another chapter, lambasting his fellow continent men, “neither are they aggressive to the point of a fight to the finish. We are not resolute in our commitment to a goal… We have a very short attention span, and have a very short burst of energy which easily extinguishes in the face of impediment.”

Throughout the book Onyeani gives examples of how Africans at home and in the Diaspora have failed to live up to the standard of the world and have remained slaves of a system that he says was not designed to benefit them. The solution to this malady of Africaness, Onyeani says, is to become a Capitalist Nigger. And what, pray tell, is that?

“You must possess great discipline and an iron hand if you are to succeed in this world. A Capitalist Nigger must embody ruthlessness in pursuit of excellence in his drive towards achieving his goal of being an economic warrior. He must be fiercely ruthless with himself if he is to abandon the baggage that we as Africans carry all our lives until our graves: the notion that somebody owes us something. We whine and whine about how the Europeans looted our natural resources. Yes, they did, so what. We allowed them to do it, and we are still allowing them to do it even today. There is too much whining among Africans, Blacks, continental Africans and Africans in the Diaspora – whine, whine, whine and nauseam.”

Now Namibia has a chance to ask Onyeani and quiz him about his Spider Web Doctrine. He says once a dollar enters Indian and Jewish pocket it hardly ever leaves the community but circulates within it. His encouragement is for blacks to do the same. I am black and I would surely want to hear more from this man.

Onyeani will be speaking at the NamPower Convention Centre this June, on the Day of the African Child, in front of a huge gathering which I am told involves captains of the industry, aspiring business people, established business people as well as President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

According to his handlers, he will also be speaking in the North, the following day on the 17th of June, on an interesting topic: Chinese and Africans.

A quick Google search for “Chika Onyeani” reveals that he is a man who has caused much controversy and is loved and hated in equal proportions.  The controversy has been good for book sales though. Since it first came out in the year 2000, Capitalist Nigger has become a bestseller in the US and in Africa. It has also led to Chika being invited to speak at various fora the world over.

The true test of how much of ‘capitalist niggers’ we all are is, how many will be prepared to pay the N$1000 registration fee for the event.

In certain parts of his book I remember thinking, hey, he’s got a point there, but there were many instances where I thought he was going overboard, exaggerating and inaccurate in his analysis. For example, in Chapter 4, Ruthlessness in Pursuit of Excellence, he surmises: “Everywhere you look in Africa, it is the intelligence of the Caucasian versus the stupidity of the Black man.”

In Chapter 5, Blacks are Economic Slaves, he writes: “We are owned stock and barrel by people of European origin, Japanese, China, the Indians and any other people that has decided to become economically viable. In fact, I believe that the only possession in the world that the Black race could lay ownership to is the free air we breathe.”

Onyeani will be accompanied by Shelvin D. Longmire, Managing Director of AST’s Global Africa Media Group. Sven Thieme O&L Group’s Executive Chairman and prominent business Sidney Martin are among some of the speakers, giving perspectives on entrepreneurship of the present and in the future.

As I look forward to attending the Chika Onyeani dinner, I will end with another selection of those words from Onyeani that made me angry, sad, aware and very very curious.

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the African immigrant group is the most educated immigrant group in the United States- it means more educated than the Japanese, the Chinese, the Koreans, the Indians, or even the Europeans. It means we possess more first degrees (B.A. B.Sc. or Bachelors whatever) and subsequent degrees than any other group.

“It means we have within the African immigrant group individuals with more professional degrees- medical doctors, engineers, economists, scientists and others in various fields.

“But the question is what has our being the most educated immigrant group done for us or for our people. Well, to say the least and to be really magnanimous, the answer is absolutely nothing.”

See you on June 16, Dr. Chika. PF