Stop blaming the white man for your African situation


Ozodi Osuji

      If you are with Africans, for any length of time, the conversation pivots to blaming Europeans and white folks in general for the dreadful state of Africa. They trot out slavery (which began in the 1500s CE), colonialism (which began in the late nineteenth century) and neocolonialism (which began in post independent Africa, 1960s). They would like us to believe that all that is wrong with Africa and the black world is compressed into the five hundred years that Europeans and Africans have come into contact.

     What they say that Europeans did, is true, but you ask, what about Africa before Europeans came to Africa, or did Africans began existing only five hundred years ago?

    Where were African governments, schools, universities and economic systems before white men came to their world?

     The other day, an African was complaining about the colonial education that white men gave to Africans; I asked him, where were your own people’s educational system before the white man came to your world? Please do not talk to me about the University of Timbuktu for that was conducted in Arabic, which was a result of Africans contact with Arabs, talk about how your, Igbo, Edo, Ashanti, Zulu, Xhosa, Luo, Kongo, Kikuyu, Somali, Dinka, Nuer, and other African ethnic groups conducted their educational system? Did they have formal education and if not why?

      Why are most things that we now know about Africa importations from Europe, where were Africans before Europeans came to their world?

      Many Nigerians blame all that is wrong with Nigeria on colonialism. So, I asked them, how long was the British in Nigeria, sixty years (1900-1960). How long have Nigerians ruled themselves, 61 years (1960-2021), more than the length of time that the British ruled them, so, how come Nigerians have not corrected all that they claim is wrong with British colonialism?

      What do we know about contemporary Nigerians but self-centered individualists; In Nigeria, the public treasury is seen as available to be stolen from and no one does anything to serve social and public interests?

      If by now you have not given all your people publicly paid education at all levels, given them publicly paid health care, industrialized the country, as they did in Asia, and built a government and economic system that people all over the world envy, who gives you the right to keep complaining about what the British did to you?

      Why cannot you learn from British mistakes and improve your country, must you always point to the past and talk about what white people did to you while in the present you, black persons, are screwing your fellow black persons, right, left and center. What is the matter with you people, cannot you do the right thing for once in your lives instead of looking for someone to blame for your poor lot?

      Most Africans did not develop writing and did not have written literature before the white man came to Africa. Europeans gave them writing and instead of being grateful to them, Africans talk about them using writing to teach them how to read the bible but did not teach them how to do science.

    How come you have not taught you how to do science? They had sixty years to do so and did not and you have had sixty-one years to teach you science, how come you have not done so?

     The state of science education in Nigeria today is worse than in 1960 when the British ran the school system. How come you folks cannot do anything right, and run everything to the ground but turn around and blame those who taught you the little you seem to know, what is the matter with you?

    A chap even was blaming British missionaries for the type of books they gave them to read. When the missionaries came to Nigeria, did they see any books? They did not. They sacrificed their lives to teach Africans how to read and write. They subsequently gave Africans the only literature they knew about, English literature.

     Art always builds on the environment of artists, so, English literature dealt with the British world. I get it. What Africans then should have done is do their own writing that responds to their world, as folks like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and James Ngugi, did, and take it from there but not complain about a people that gave you what they have.

    The British gave African school boys Chaucer, Shakespeare, Mallow, Milton, Pope, Dickens, Trollope, Walter Scott, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, George Elliot, George Orwell and the other English writers that Nigerians were taught at Secondary schools, now, write your own literature and use it to replace English literature and don’t sit around complaining about how the British injured your mind by giving you British literature; what do you want them to give to you, since you had none, to write African literature for you, too?

     With regards to teaching Nigerians’ science instead of the Bible, let us recall that science is a recent phenomenon. We all know about how science began in the sixteenth century with Nicolas Copernicus, then progressed to Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Huygens, Tycho Brahe, Boyle, Dalton, Thomas Young, Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, J.J. Thomson,  Henri Becquerel, Pierre and Marie Curie, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Ernest Rutherford, Niels Bohr, Louis Broglie, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrodinger, Wolfgang Pauli, Paul Dirac, Lise Leitner, Jenner, Flaming, James Watson, Francis Crick and others; these are recent people in human history.

     In the late nineteenth century when British missionaries came to Nigeria, most of the missionaries did not even know what science was, they studied the humanities and the bible and did not go to universities. They gave Nigerians all they got.

      So now that Nigerians know that science is especially important why don’t they teach their people science? Has the laboratories built at Nigerian secondary schools by the missionaries not been allowed to decay while Nigerians talk about how missionaries did not teach them science.

     Why can’t you learn science and teach it to your people, must you always wait for other people to come teach you something? What are you, a child that other people must always give something?

    And talking about science, a guy said that the missionaries ought to have written it in African languages, languages that they did not understand!

      What African languages are we talking about? Hausa and Swahili have enough vocabulary to sustain the teaching of science (those incorporated a lot of Arabic words, and Arabic has a lot of words in it).

       The typical African tribal language has only a few thousand words in it. You need, at least, 200, 000 words in your language to teach science (Oxford English Dictionary has over 500, 000 words in it).

       I have copies of available Igbo-English dictionaries; each contains a few thousand words, not enough to translate any serious philosophy or science into Igbo.

      If you tried to translate a high school textbook on physics and chemistry into, say, Igbo and Yoruba, you would have to use mostly foreign words to do so and by the time you are done over 90% of the words would be Greek, Latin, English, French, German and the other languages in which science is done.

     Of course, eventually, science would be translated to African languages, but the resultant African languages are not the one you speak today.

     In three hundred years the Igbo and Yoruba that folks would speak, and use to do science and technology, will be an Igbo and Yoruba that you. alive today, cannot understand. Try to understand the English language before science came along in the seventeenth century and began changing it, you cannot.

     Language is evolutionary and does change just as everything else changes or they die off.

     I often wonder whether the Africans who sit around and blame white folks for all that is wrong with Africa have no shame at all? If you had shame, you would feel bad that all that is now in your world was given to you by Europeans, and you would buckle up and try to catch up with the rest of the world, instead of messing Africa up, rather royally, while seeking scapegoats to blame for your choice to steal instead of dedicate your lives to serving your people.


       Pondering Nigerians and Africans penchant for blaming all that is wrong in their world on the white man, I concluded that they do so because they feel inferior and see the white man as superior to them. They see the white man as kind of gods that ought to help them but see themselves as little children that white gods ought to help. Perceiving white gods not helping them they feel angry at them. If they had correctly seen white men, as men like them, men struggling to make a living, like them, hence, have no time to carry African crybabies on their backs, they would have rolled up their sleeves and worked to improve Africa instead of always complaining about what white men did to them.

     White men do not owe Africans a thing! The world is a competitive place. Animals compete for food and territory; the strongest get more and survive and the weakest get less, and some die off. That is the reality of human existence.


     People do not exist to feed you but themselves. If you cannot feed you, please do the world a great favor and die off and stop blaming others who did not help you.

     Look at Nigerians, they do not even help their own people but despite living as utterly selfish folks they point two accusing fingers at white folks while three points right back at them telling them that they are responsible for their fallen house.

     Now, get up, be like adults and rebuild your fallen house and stop blaming other people for its fall. Africans moaning and complaining is now getting irritating to the rest of the world.


     If Africans do not try to catch up with the rest of the world, eventually, political and social realism will kick in in the world and Africans would be left to die as an uncompetitive and unfit people.

     Africans are equal to white folks and Asians; no other people are superior to Africans, so it is wrong to see other people as superior to Africans and based on that wrong perception of them expect them to come help Africans to survive, as adults help children to survive.

      In the real world, if you want to survive you work for your daily bread; if you do not, you have condemned yourself to death, and your death is your fault, not other people’s fault, for no one exists to feed you and take care of you, as adults take care of infants.

    Of course, there is some truth to the thesis that the white man is screwing the black man; I am a social scientist and understand extant economics; I understand Africa’s dependent relations with the West. Nevertheless, I personally do not see white folks as better than me; thus, while acknowledging the extant reality that they have heads up over me, I do what I must do to catch up with them, or even surpass them; I do not waste my time blaming them for our African backwardness.

      Africans’ fate is in their hands, not in other people’s hands.

Ozodi Osuji

December 8, 2021

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