‘Black man has been wicked to his fellow black man’
Chief Adaobi Whyte is a critic, politician and writer. She is one of the founders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the first woman to be honoured with a chieftaincy title Ajuwa in her community Ndoni, Rivers State. Also as a social crusader, she used the medium of her books to lament the inhumanity of the black man towards his fellow black man with particular focus on the intimidation, victimization and humiliation of Nigerians by Nigerians. In this interview with Adaku Onyenucheya, she spoke about the destructive bent of Nigerian politicians, and how they impoverish the country through looting bring the country to its knees since the nation attained independence in 1960
You have been writing storybooks, why did you decide to do something different?
The story books just came because of some crisis in my place, for this particular one as you can see is How Africans Vandalise Africa (Focusing Nigeria), I am an African woman lamenting the destiny, slave mentality and wickedness of the black man. So I started with my first book Abuse of the Nigerian Child and Plight of the Nigerian Woman. These are the things that have bothered me, so when I watch the Nigerian environment which is my own environment in Africa, as I started growing up, I don’t understand the life of the black man, hence I started to document from those two books in 2002. This is just an extension of my lamentation about the destiny, slave mentality and wickedness of the black man.
What inspired you to write this book, are there some personal experiences or were they borne from what you see around you?
Apart from some personal experiences which if we want to talk, you will find out that if we really want to talk about the Nigerian environment, you will find out that I am among the luckiest, I see my fellow Nigerians suffering in the midst of plenty. When we talk of tradition – before I worked in my area among men to become a chief, I had worked and seen what was going on in the community. I have seen that majority of our traditions tends to punish people, in fact as a youth I rarely got inspired to write through what I saw in widowhood tradition and divorce, I now see that whatever we are doing, we always want to cheat our fellow human being, then as I started watching our environment and the governance – as we started growing up we heard about the white man and colonization, I was taken to Jos at the age of 11, from Jos I came to Lagos in 1961 So I have been comparing. When I try to see what the white man had done at the initial stage, I was angry with the white man for colonizing us, for making us lose our national identity. As a young girl when I became a Christian and got baptized in Catholic church, I was given the name Susana, but as I continued to grow by the time I reached 20 years, I said what the white man had done to the black man was too much and then I dropped that name.
But your surname is Whyte, where did you get that?
As I dropped the Susana being a white name, then I got a great challenge over my marital name, so I started wondering, now that I have dropped my personal name, what about the one marriage has put on my head? At that stage I said okay let me attach my father’s name Uzoka, I told my husband about the name and he agreed, later I dropped the name Uzoka and then continued with the Whyte. But as I continued to watch Nigeria, its governance and the action of our religious and political leaders, I have discovered that the white people have done us better. They gave us better life because apart from that colonization, they conquered us, they scrambled over us, and they started to rule us. All what we have today, anything you can talk about development was brought by the white man.
You talked about how you struggled to get your chieftaincy title, what was your experience considering our society where men dominate?
I saw from my youth that women are negative, men are more positive, so in our community I became a founder of our women organization called Ndoni Women Association. I found out that our women are not interested in anything about community development, hence I decided to join the men’s group because we have a group called Ndoni Community that was open to men and women. When I joined them I was about 18 years, I started attending that meeting, then I discovered that those men were more positive and active in community affairs than the women.
What do you think is wrong with our women?
I have tried to find out why our women are so negative but till today I have not been able to get an answer. I am talking about from the grassroots level to the federal set up. You find that whenever there are positive things to do, our women are more interested in uniforms. Where two or three women are gathered, they want to make uniforms. Men can wear their T-shirts, shorts and finish their job. So you find that from the grassroot level to the federal level, women don’t know what is happening in Nigeria. So from that early stage as I continued to get involved in politics, I continued dragging our women. When we go to political meetings, I find out that there are no women on the high table. Rather, their duty is to sing choruses and dance for the men. I became worried. I still continued with that Ndoni Community meeting. It was because of my working with them and being an activist, fighting social ills in the community, that was I was elected the Deputy President General in 1993. So I didn’t just jump to become a chief, it was because of my interaction with the men. After that I was elected the President General. It was my activities in the community that made the king bestow the chieftaincy title on me.
In all of those experiences, did you join active politics? Tell us about your political journey.
Yes. Since 1999 I became very active in People’s Democratic Party (PDP). But before PDP I had joined other political parties. I worked with CNC under Dr. Olusola Saraki, the father of the Senate President. I learnt politics under him. I admired him because I saw that he cared for the poor. But when I left him, I started working with other groups. It was my serious involvement in politics that really made me to know that the black man is wicked and that is what I have documented in this book. Why I said the black man is very wicked is that the government money is for the people. It is to develop the country, the communities and the states. But unfortunately, as I got involved in politics, and attending political programmes, I noticed that our politicians, all they do during election time is to go to the rural areas and all corners of Nigeria giving out peanuts to poor people to collect their votes. Once they are in government, they start to steal contract monies that are supposed to be used to develop the state and provide amenities for the people. All they give us is abandoned projects. I have done my research. I have found that the black man has been wicked from the on-set before the white man came. That is after what I have seen in political circles. Our politicians have established themselves as slave masters and taken over from the white. The white ruled us; they came and met us in indigenous slavery. Before the white man came, we were exchanging 20 human heads to one horse. We were castrating the strong slaves to become eunuchs so that they will be able to serve the kings and protect their wives. Because of that, out of 100 slaves only 10 would survive. We try as much to hide our secret and expose the white people’s own. By the time they came, we were already enslaving our people and that is why you see as of today after how many centuries of the white man stopping slave trade in Africa, that we are still kidnapping our brothers. The black man sees his brother as a slave. He that is on top rode on top of his brothers to get votes. Votes that he use to get government contract, become president, Minister, governor or local government chairman. All the political positions they get in Nigeria, they get it through the votes of indigenes, then after that they forget them and treat the voters like slaves.
Is there hope for women in the presidency?
When Sarah Jubril contested for presidency, no woman voted for her. Nigeria is collapsing; they have liquidated the national cake. Look at our president; he has taken refuge outside the country. Why can Nigeria not have hospitals that our president can go for treatment? This is what we are facing today. Immediately after independence, my own people said during the white man regime, that when you steal in the office, it is oyinbo stealing; it is not the proper stealing. But when you steal at home that is proper stealing. When Nigerians started stealing government money, they were laughing and saying it was the white men stealing, and they called it National cake. Now that evil has swallowed us up because of the national cake they started cutting at the early part of independence. At that time they said that our top politicians were taking 10 per cent of government project. Today it is no more 10 per cent. When a politician enters any office, as president, minister or governor, they clear everything there and then go and collect loans.
All what we have today including our household utensils, were invented and developed by the whites. Today all our shopping, medical treatment and children’s education are done abroad for those that can afford it. The All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) have liquidated Nigeria. Let the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs summon the leaders of APC and PDP into a meeting. It is only the two parties members that can save us from this problem. When you hear people from the presidency speaking, they are talking about policies. Do we have any government policies? What policy do they have for the common man in Nigeria? All the argument you have been hearing between APC and PDP, have you ever heard them argue about the poor man? They don’t because they treat the poor men as slaves. Nigeria leaders have no regard for the poor man. Like we lamented about racism and apartheid of the white men, our black men since after independence has been holding his brother in perpetual bondage and slavery. So the Council of Islamic Affairs and CAN should summon the leaders of APC and PDP and settle them. If they don’t, the two groups will tear Nigeria into pieces. I am one of the mothers of PDP and I am a member too.
How many years have you been in PDP?
Since inception in 1999.
Since you started with them what was the vision PDP had at the beginning?
They always tell you beautiful visions. Coming to politics in Nigeria has disappointed me, PDP has disappointed me. I told them you have packed all the money without giving the poor. What they offer the poor is peanuts. They will give five bags of rice to a community. The same thing APC is doing now. They will give N10, 000 to a community, how will they share it?
You said only APC and PDP could save Nigeria how?
Why I said that is that in 1999 PDP took over Nigeria and started destroying from where the military stopped. So for 19 good years this people calling themselves APC today were inside PDP. Together, they destroyed Nigeria for the past 16 years. Our ministers would come out and announce policies that will restore the country, all are lies. CAN and Islamic council Affairs should summon APC and PDP to return all the money they looted. They are shouting Abacha loot. All of our political leaders looted our treasury, from presidency to local government. Let them come and tell us how our money is spent or where it has gone. They will tell you in the federal government that someone stole billions of naira and billions of naira is missing which is what has filled the media, they make us believe that through the media. The religious associations should hold our leaders accountable and make them return the money they looted and stop shouting Abacha. The president is running after America and Britain to return our looted money, all the political thieves here what has been done to them? Church leaders going on jets, where are they taking the jets to when all his members are dying of hunger? These religious leaders only see vision during election time. They see who will win the election. Why can’t they see visions on how Nigeria will be better? When they build their schools poor men can’t attend, but early missionaries built schools and hospitals for the poor. All these grammar they are blowing, they are only doing it to distract us and all these quarrelling you are seeing APC and PDP engage in, they are only doing it to deceive us. They are holding Nigeria to ransom and the day they leave Nigeria the country will survive.
Do you agree with the government’s idea that Nigeria should rely on its products to alleviate the economic recession?
They say that to revive the economic crisis, we must produce and purchase made in Nigeria goods including flying Arik Airline. Where will many jobless Nigerians find money to produce the items? The farmers will work with empty stomach and hands? From hiring and clearing the bushes, buying the seedlings, and work from planting to harvesting season, will they use empty hands to buy the raw materials for production, hire the shops and produce the goods? The graduates are jobless, those working are also beggars for their salaries can’t sustain them. What have we to say about those working without salaries and pensioners without pensions? See what they have done to the Niger Delta children, Almajiri children and the African children in general.