Saturday 27th May 2017,
Poetry Potion

Nigger What!?

zamantungwa 1 July 2007 essays Comments Off on Nigger What!?

So manje nay’ indaba… over a year ago, I came across a book with an interesting title – CAPITALIST NIGGER – and I bought it. I read the book. Finished it. Thought deeply about it. And now, though still unsettled and kind of confused I am certain that if Afrikans are to survive, it is time for a radical change.

Capitalist Nigger, written by an Afrikan living in America, aggressively and repetitively declares that Afrikans are consumers; incapable of (or rather lazy at) manufacturing innovation, and that we, solely, are responsible for our own ‘backwardness’ and poverty… In many ways, I agree entirely with Chika Onyeani (the author) – all the technology I own is made in Japan, China, Taiwan and I don’t know of any Afrikan or Afrikan state that can make any of it – let alone invent it. My clothes, shoes, accessories are made in China and Taiwan. The taxis I use to commute are made in Japan or Germany; the cars I have sat in are made in Japan or Germany. The music CDs I listen to (including South Afrikan music): the record companies are mainly white owned, the CD pressing and distribution is white owned. The food I eat… think about it.

As brutally stressed in the book, if we Afrikan’s are to avoid extinction we need to get over our ‘poor’-selves and become Capitalist Niggers. We need to learn from the Europeans and Asians by being determined, ambitious and risk-takers – start to own our economy. Own our economy by inventing, making, buying/selling for ourselves – what in Kwanza is expressed as “Cooperative Economics”. See, this is the gist of the book. You need to read the book for yourselves because this is not a review.

Since reading this book, I have become frighteningly aware of my consumerist ways and of those around me. I am very worried because although I see the problem and can articulate it, I do not have a solution for it. Actually, it is not the solution that is hard to find, it’s isibindi – Courage. Courage to take on the mammoth task knowing that this turn-around may not be achieved in my lifetime.

Approximately 99% of all that I buy goes out of my community directly into the white community – the USA, Europe and 80% of this 90% goes to China, Japan and Taiwan. Ironic how sikhala ngama Fong Kong while just about everything is a Fong Kong! For us to do something serious and obvious about this it would mean to be naked, sleep out in the open, not eat or drink anything, not listen to the radio, not use public transport or any vehicle…  Onyeani even suggests this in his book.

See, SA is suffering with staggering numbers of unemployment in the clothing industry,the mines, other manufacturing and services industries. People with serious skills and experience, with degrees and no experience, and with no degree or experience are unemployed – I’m talking abo-darkie, Afrikans, ‘Coloured’, the indigenous folk not umlungu or ibhunu né. I’ve been thinking that these jobless peoples, particularly the retrenched folk in the clothing and mining industry surely, have enough skill and experience to start their own factories and mines. I’m thinking the peoples from the manufacturing industries can start a revolution to kick out China, Japan and Taiwan made things.

Is this impossible? Ridiculous? Easy? We have people going around claiming how Afrikans invented this, that or the other. Allegedly there is so much that we have invented that has been stolen from us – the light bulb, rap, rock, jazz, the internet. So much for our inventions, we can’t lay claim to the development and the ownership thereof. Ok, so maybe we need to start talking about ownership -how does the best-selling musician start to own the music industry from studio to CD duplication? How does the fastest athletic start owning the sport industry from sports clothing to training facilities? How do the filmmakers start to own the film industry from broadcasting to the video stores?

You see this battle is huge!
And Afrika is struggling to get involved.

But where can you start, you may be asking? Start by patronising Afrika wherever you can – in fact, make it a point of finding out who owns the business where you spend your money. Continue to use the taxi, as it is a black-owned industry. In business, look for Black Suppliers. Eat at black-owned food outlets. Wear black designers. The bigger things like technology and sciences are going to take longer – it means people being steered toward science and maths, being told the truth about what they can do with these subjects. It means young artists learning the business of art and working towards owning and controlling their intellectual property. It means children learning the business of money while still young – how to balance the consumer with the producer, owner and controller.

This, however, is a two-way so even our Black business men and women out there need to come to the party. Make your product available to udarkie; treat your Afrikan customers as you treat you white customers. Ever been served by an Afrikan waiter or cashier (or had an encounter with a security guard) with a bad attitude and the minute a white customers brother or sister switches on the charm? Then you know what I’m talking about. Strive to be accessible to your Black brothers and sisters instead of turning them into coons the way some so-called black products are advertised to their market. It wouldn’t hurt a bit to drop the prices some – there are so many Afrikans you will not miss the ‘niche’. But do not drop the standard,that’s exactly what makes us think ‘if it’s got a name I can’t pronounce and it’s expensive then it’s good’.

Just imagine how much more we would all be enriched, without being in debt or giving in to being BEE tokens. Think about it. Improve on it. Discuss it with others.

Try it.

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