LORD Frederick Lugard, British Governor-General of Nigeria between 1914 and 1919, expressed the following views about Africans in his book, The Dual Mandate, which was published in 1926: “In character and temperament, the typical African of this race-type is a happy, thriftless, excitable person. Lacking in self-control, discipline, and foresight. Naturally courageous, naturally courteous and polite, full of personal vanity, with little sense of veracity, fond of music and loving weapons as an Oriental loves jewellery.
“His thoughts are concentrated on the events and feelings of the moment, and he suffers little from the apprehension for the future, or grief for the past. His mind is far nearer to the animal world than that of the European or Asiatic and exhibits something of the animal’s placidity and want of desire to rise beyond the state he has reached.
“Through the ages, the African appears to have evolved no organised religious creed, and though some tribes appear to believe in a deity, the religious sense seldom rises above pantheistic animalism and seems more often to take the form of a vague dread of the supernatural.
“He lacks the power of organisation and is conspicuously deficient in the management and control alike of men or business. He loves the display of power but fails to realise its responsibility. He will work hard with a less incentive than most races. He has the courage of the fighting animal – an instinct rather than a moral virtue…
“In brief, the virtues and defects of this race-type are those of attractive children, whose confidence when it is won is given ungrudgingly as to an older and wiser superior and without envy.
“Perhaps the two traits which have impressed me as those most characteristic of the African native are his lack of apprehension and his ability to visualise the future.”
Many Nigerians will find Lugard’s views offensive, but I personally think that he has a point…and that we still possess self-destructive weaknesses he observed in us a hundred years ago.
What do Vanguard readers think?
A more recent White perspective
Last year, Julian Von Abele, a White male American undergraduate at New York’s Ivy League Columbia University, attracted widespread condemnation when he lavished praise on his race and gender.
Von Abele was reacting, as follows, to bitter criticisms of Whites and males that have become commonplace in the past few decades: “We [Europeans] built the modern world!” von Abele declared.
“We invented science and industry, and you want to tell us to stop because we’re so baaad…We saved billions of people from starvation. We built modern civilization. White people are the best thing that ever happened to the world. We are so amazing!… We did everything! I don’t hate other people. I just love White men.”
Colombia University authorities swiftly disowned Von Abele’s “White supremacist language”, while many of his non-White and White fellow students claimed to be traumatised and appalled by his comments.
In the midst of the media maelstrom that ensued, Von Abele kept insisting that he was not a racist and denounced all racist groups.
He told an interviewer from The Atlantic magazine that he simply resented the fact that White men and the values that made a Western civilization great are routinely attacked nowadays (within liberal intellectual circles like university campuses, for example).
Long story short: Von Abele was kicking back against those who insult his identity and doesn’t think there is anything wrong with being white or male, isn’t ashamed of his culture or ancestors, is proud of their achievements and rejects the notion that White men are nothing more than evil colonisers who have ruined the world.
Frankly, though Van Abele overreacted to assaults on Western patriarchy and comes across as a very annoying individual, I agree with his core message.
Europeans are not saints by any means, but they are essentially productive, and their achievements are outstanding and deserve to be emulated and respected.
Meanwhile, we Africans are also not saints and are also capable of evil and have also committed crimes like slavery. And I’m 100 per cent convinced that if we’d developed the skills required to cross oceans and colonise other parts of the globe, we would have eagerly done so.
In a nutshell, I think we should avoid the temptation to be sanctimonious about the shortcomings of other races. And, given that we have yet to fulfil our potential, we really need to spend less time blaming others for our myriad misfortunes and more time getting our acts together.
Imagine simple challenges like providing ourselves with round-the-clock electricity eluding us in the 21st century! Imagine so many Nigerian highways being so infested with criminals that travelling by road to weddings, burials or business meetings has become an intensely hazardous affair.
Imagine senior government officials struggling with ordinary citizens to buy tickets for the Abuja-Kaduna train because they fear kidnappers, armed robbers and killers.…instead of doing their job and making the road secure for themselves and the rest of us.
I reckon that our leaders are nowhere near as competent as their Western counterparts and that almost everything that expands our horizons and makes life safer, tolerable or enjoyable – TV, cars, aeroplanes, proper medications and so on – was invented by Whites.
And I will be absolutely delighted if we can stop messing around, use our brains, prove Lord Lugard wrong and catch up and excel.
What do Vanguard readers think?