Monday, October 29, 2007

A Nigerian agrees: Whites are more intelligent!

In Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, there’s a newspaper called the Daily Trust and a weekly columnist named Idang Alibi.

Last Thursday, Alibi wrote an opinion piece with the headline “I Agree with Dr. Watson.” This refers to James D. Watson, the Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist who embarrassed himself recently on the subject of race and intelligence.

Here’s some of what Idang Alibi wrote:

“I do not know what constitutes intelligence. ... But I do know that in terms of organising society for the benefit of the people living in it, we blacks have not shown any intelligence in that direction at all. I am so ashamed of this and sometimes feel that I ought to have belonged to another race.”

“Nigeria my dear country is a prime example of the inferiority of the black race when compared to other races. ... Is it intelligence that we cannot provide simple pipe-borne water for the people? Our public school system has virtually collapsed. Is that a sign of intelligence? Our roads are impassable. ... [W]e have no steady supply of electricity. ...”

“Anywhere in the world today where you have a concentration of black people among other races, the poorest, the least educated, the least achieving, and the most violent group among those races will be the blacks.”

“Look at the African continent. South Africa is the most developed country because of the presence of whites there. This may be an uncomfortable truth for many of us but it exists nevertheless.”

“Instead of regarding bitter truths expressed by the likes of Watson as a wake-up call for us to engage in sober reflection, we take to the expression of woolly sentiment. For me, this type of reaction is a further evidence of our unintelligence.”

“God himself must be frustrated with his black children. They must be an embarrassment to him.”

Toward the end of the column, Mr. Alibi makes a sort of turn:

“As I write this, I do so with great pains in my heart because I know that God has given intelligence in equal measure to all his children irrespective of the colour of their skin. The problem with us black people is that we have refused to use our intelligence to organise ourselves socially and politically.”

Since last Thursday, Mr. Alibi’s column has ricocheted across the internets. I first saw it on the white-nationalist site American Renaissance, where commenters are writing things like “it takes a brave man to utter truth”... “Here, indeed, is an honest man”... “Wow, some sobering words from this brave soul.”

At, which reprinted Alibi’s essay, you’ll find differing viewpoints. Such as: “You, Idang Alibi, are another example of self hate! ... You need to study your history and get up off of your knees.”

A Nigerian blogger named “Dayo” has posted a paragraph-by-paragraph response to Alibi.

Now, I happen to believe that the measurability of cognitive skills and the heritability of cognitive skills are valid subjects for research and public discussion. But Idang Alibi’s column isn’t even about that. It’s about his own bone-chilling racial shame. Which made me curious to read more of his writing.

Who is Idang Alibi? Well, he presents himself as a devout Christian. (Nigeria is 50 percent Muslim, 40 percent Christian.) And he is notorious for writing inflammatory columns.

In 2002, Alibi wrote one titled “Ethiopia: An Embarrassment to Africa,”
which provoked online responses from all corners of the Ethiopian diaspora.

Discussing recurrent famines, Alibi asserted that “Ethiopian leaders and people are not thinking hard enough about how to solve their problems. And this is typical of us Africans, especially those of us in the homeland.”

“I know that all religions teach about charity or the need to be our brothers’ keeper,” he continued. “I am also aware that kindness does not only consist in giving money and food. In some circumstances..., the best gift may be ideas. And this is what I am offering to Ethiopians: wear your thinking cap, think hard and you will find a solution to your perennial hunger.

“Your plight has become a source of great shame and reproach to the rest of us.”

(Why Idang Alibi thinks the agricultural policies of Ethiopia reflect on him in Nigeria... that’s a mystery.)

In recent months, Alibi wrote a series of columns titled “Why Should I Love AIDS Victims?” On August 22, he put forth this modest proposal:

“If you ask my opinion about what needs to be done about the AIDS pandemic, my simple solution is let us begin a mandatory testing of everyone in our country. Any man, woman or child who is found to be [HIV-]positive should be isolated in camps until when a cure is found...”

(Many readers protested. The ombudswoman of the Daily Trust wrote that Alibi’s columns violated the Nigerian government’s declared policy of “ending stigma and discrimination” against people with AIDS.)

Add it all up, and it might be that Idang Alibi is simply a controversialist. He loves outraging people with his bluntness.

Or he could be one of the saddest human beings alive.


SJ said...

Wow this guy has some issues.

I think people too easily overlook the fact that a lot of African countries are still young. Nigeria gained it's independence in 1960, others such as the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, etc. gained independence in the 50s/60s too. They are still very young countries just overcome with corruption.

odocoileus said...

What's funny about this is that some of the smartest Africans are the biggest bastards.

Mugabe, for example. Seven academic degrees, and a shrewd, ruthless guerrilla leader.

The Nigerian politicians and businessmen who conspire to steal the country blind are in no way stupid. Evil, yes. Dumb, no.

Undercover Black Man said...

An ironic thing is that Nigerians produce a lot of degree-holders in computer science and mathematics. A year ago I counted about 20 Nigerian-born comp.sci. faculty members and another 20 Nigerian-born math faculty in U.S. universities... more than from the rest of Africa put together.

I'd like to do some reading about the quality of higher education on the African continent. Because I assume, just based on the above tidbit of information, that Nigerian colleges and universities are among the best in Africa, if they're producing mathematicians who can teach in the U.S.

Rottin' in Denmark said...

I went to a seminar last year called something like 'Why Does Africa Lag Behind?' Intelligence *hella* wasn't brought up as a possible theory, but I thought the 'optimal challenges' model was pretty interesting.

It pretty much says that, with its good climate, abundant land and rich soils, sub-Saharan Africans were not subject to the kind of constant challenges that made Europeans develop things like clothing and housing that led to industrialization.

I think it's way too simple of an explanation (not unlike, say, 'Africans are stupid!'), but it's interesting as a theory, anyway. I would definitely be following this flap a bit more closely if I thought more of the people involved were genuinely interested in what has brought Africa to the situation that it's in today, rather than just using this as an excuse to trot out their biases.

Oh, and I wonder if anyone out there is working on an anthology of all the delicious self-hating opinion pieces that minority groups have cringed through in the past century. Alibi's would be a good addition to the genre, alongside that woman who opposed the ERA (what's her name?) and hundreds of gay writers during the AIDS epidemic.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ And nobody can out-self-hate a self-hating Jew. ;^D

John B. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John B. said...

I'd say Mr. Idang Alibi is up for a fellowship at the American Enterprise Institute. . .

susie said...

It's interesting to me that he identifies as a "Christian" and I wonder if this has anything to do with his abiliity to cast judgment and to feel shame?

His statement that God must be ashamed of his black children gives me cause to believe that his understanding of God is pretty messed up.

His statement that South Africa is developed due only to the presence of whites is disconcerting because of the history of incredible inhumanity and violence of the white society to whom he credits these benefits.

The concerns he raises with regard, to water, education and disease are valid, but are the issues in Africa because of the people or are they due to a flawed infrastructure put into place by imperial colonialism and missionaries who had an agenda that was not about what was best for the people living there, but rather for their government or their God.

Thembi said...

There's this movie called 'Mr Johnson' about the shame of colonized and how it can manifest itself in this uncle tom-ish set of beliefs where the colonized feels grateful for being saved by the colonizer and aspires to aid him in his good work in every way possible. Of course this belief set ignores that making do with things you've stolen is way easier than making do with what is already yours. But the African continent is STRUGGLING with education. Not that the people are plain stupid OBVIOUSLY, but we're just fooled by the Africans who come to the US and are earning higher degrees faster than DAS (descendants of slaves). Let's not confuse ourselves here. This man is writing from a country that has a travel advisory because of all of the unrest there. The reasons why Nigerians make it over here is because it is an English speaking country, in the West (closest to the US), there is a fair amount of money there, and there is more political unrest than famine to flee so people actually have clear heads to think about getting out. Im pretty sure that there are more Nigerians in all facets of society in the US than there are immigrants from other African countries.

memomachine said...


1. Mr. Alibi is probably like Ann Coulter. A firebomb thrower who profits off the outrage.

2. What a great last name! Next time I setup a character on a MMO, Massively Multiplayer Online, game I'm going to call him "Mr. Alibi".

3. Africa's biggest problem is, was and will continue to be tribalism. It's the same kind of problem that affects Afghanistan and much of the Arab world. For some people the necessary changes that causes people to adopt a national identity vs a tribal identity either don't happen or haven't happened.

And until a national identity truly emerges the effect of tribalism causes people to distrust the national government because it's often used as a weapon in tribal conflicts. I believe that the total number of independent tribes in Africa have been cut by 2/3rds since the 1950's.

If your identity is tribal and not national then what happens to people of your nation but not of your tribe is irrelevant to you. This generally results in a "Tragedy of the Commons" type situation.

4. It's true most of the African countries are young and need time to shake things out. It's even more important to understand the secondary consequences of the extremely quick abandonment of colonies post-WWII. Prior to the post-colonial era most of these African colonies were managed by expatriates from the European countries with relatively minor managerial positions held by natives.

So when these former colonies were given their independence most of the institutional management experience up to that time was held by these same expatriates. And where these experienced expatriates were replaced by relatively inexperienced natives the result was both corruption, due in part to tribal influences, and incompetence.

The whole thing was pretty much setup to fail.

memomachine said...


A bit more I forgot to include

1. Frankly I think the whole "lack of competition" thing rings false. Regardless of how difficult or not difficult a particular environment is the fact remains that the single deadliest predator that humanity has ever had to deal with has been other humans.

And considering that the vast majority of slaves taken from African were from African tribes selling off captured prisoners from tribal wars, I'd suggest that Africa was far from idyllic.

The concerns he raises with regard, to water, education and disease are valid, but are the issues in Africa because of the people or are they due to a flawed infrastructure put into place by imperial colonialism and missionaries who had an agenda that was not about what was best for the people living there, but rather for their government or their God.

Beg pardon? Are you suggesting that Christian missionaries are responsible for bad water management by African countries?

How on earth does that work?

I really would like an explanation. I'm not a Christian but I do donate money to Christian groups that also engage in missionary work in Africa. If there are issues involved then I'd like to know about it in as much detail as possible.

Comb & Razor said...


the sad thing is that regardless of Mr. Alibi's history as a controversialist, i can testify that the point of view he expresses here is far from uncommon amongst Nigerians--and other black Africans, i would guess.

i have had this conversation so many times... many people look at you like you're crazy for even thinking of contesting the idea that white people are more intelligent than blacks.

i agree with memomachine that the biggest problem facing African countries is tribalism.

the utter destruction of self-confidence is a close second, though.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Wow. Thanks for that, Comb & Razor.

NunaOni said...

There is always one. He is gonna get some big time fellowship money out of this.

eeaster said...

Here's the thing about Africa. It's the one place where I'm always guaranteed to suffer racism. Nine time sout of 10 it's from black Africans who have been so destroyed by the colonized mentality that it manifests itself into utter servitude of the mind and a "white man's ice is colder" syndrome that is ten times worst that what you might see in the States.

But on Rottin' in Denmark's post, he's not faroff the mark, I think. It's the whole Guns, Germs & Steel theory. A land of plenty does not produce invention born of necessity. 99.99% of things invented by Europeans were utter necessities for survival in a land with few natural resources and a bitter climate. It's the whole "suntan lotion wasn't created by black folks" joke/truth. Warfare is an issue, available materials is another issue - so you get create woodwork, not great say, marble carving, in some African countries and great soapstone art in Zimbabwe. We use what you have. That Western mores and tools have become the standarad of modern life is not the fault of those whose cultures dictated other needs.

But all that said, everything African ain't necessarily cool just because it's African and we have roots there. Some f**cked up shit happening there and we should acknowledge it, no matter how much it might hurt sometime.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Thanks for commenting, Eric.

A land of plenty does not produce invention born of necessity.

Let me raise this one: Written language. It seems to me that civilizational "advancement" must be built upon a written language... the transmission of ideas in written form, which can then be built upon by the next generations.

The Chinese invented paper around 100 A.D. ... centuries before the Europeans got around to making paper. And to this day, the Chinese out-perform whites in IQ. Coincidence? Do ways of thinking evolve differently among peoples who have a written language versus those who don't have a written language, such as Amerindians or sub-Saharan Africans?

Comb & Razor said...

oh, i dunno how accurate it would be to say that there was no written language in sub-Saharan Africa: Timbuktu was a (Islamic) center of learning in the 14th or 15th century, and i believe there's evidence of a written alphabet in Meroë (located in modern Sudan) dating from the 2nd century or so BC. i'd have to search for exact citations, but i've also heard that there was a writing system in some parts of Ghana.

i don't know for sure how extensive of developed these writing systems were, of course.

that much aside, it's still a good question and one that i've often pondered myself.

Anonymous said...

UBM, I don't see a problem with a fair amount of the stuff this guy wrote. Consider this: "But I do know that in terms of organising society for the benefit of the people living in it, we blacks have not shown any intelligence in that direction at all." It's simply true.

Same Guy as Above said...

I wonder: Is any self-criticism by non-whites "self-hate"? Here's Thomas Sowell on how the Japanese developed their country:

"Japan’s economic rise began from a stage of technological backwardness that was demonstrated when Commodore Perry presented them with a gift of a train. Here was their reaction:

"-At first the Japanese watched the train fearfully from a safe distance, and when the engine began to move they uttered cries of astonishment and drew in their breath. Before long they were inspecting it closely, stroking it, and riding on it, and they kept this up throughout the day-."

"A century later, the Japanese “bullet train” would be one of the technological wonders of the world, surpassing anything available in the United States. But, before this happened, a major cultural transformation had to take place among the Japanese people. A painful awareness of their own backwardness spread through Japan. Western nations in general and the United States in particular were held up as models to their children. Japanese textbooks urged imitation of Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin, even more so than Japanese heroes. Many laments about their own shortcomings by the Japanese of that era would today be called “self-hate.” But there were no cultural relativists then to tell them that what they had achieved was just as good, in its own way, as what others had. Instead, the Japanese overcame their backwardness, through generations of dedicated work and study, rather than redefining it out of existence."

It seems to me that this Nigerian is doing the same thing as those Japanese, and UBM/et al are doing nothing but crying "self-hate!"

Undercover Black Man said...

^ But anon, when a black man calls black people an embarrassment to God... don't you see he's not coming from a place of reason?

The Pop View said...

I would have to agree with the comment above about the book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, the 1997 book by Jared Diamond. One of the traditional ideas behind the supposed superiority of Western civilization and the whites that inhabit it is that the Europeans have technology and military might because of intellectual superiority. Diamond's book offers a model to explain why some cultures dominate in wealth and power, while others lag. If you've ever instinctively distrusted the notion of Western superiority, but couldn't explain why, this book really delivers.

One key factor is agriculture. Agricultural production leads to food surpluses, which then creates population growth and and specialization of labor, which leads to classes, bureaucracies and empire. Europe had the plant and animal species that were suitable for domestication, as well as a geographic layout that allowed them to be moved to different areas. Africa was fragmented by its extreme variations in climate from north to south: plants and animals that did well in one area couldn't do well in another.

Then, once you've got the large, dense cities, and lots of trade, you get the transmission of disease, when then leads to the development of immunities.

There's more, but Diamond argues that your success depends a lot on where you started, rather than any kind of superior intellect.

jena6 said...

In "Superpatriotism" Michael Parenti talks about how through the World Bank and IMF "US leaders" have ruined Africa's economies, and how these leaders have "fueled eleven wars on the continent" leaving millions dead, and millions more starving, malnourished, and impoverished. Does Alibi take these things into consideration?

Thembi said...

It seems like everytime you raise a titilating yet controversial issue on your blog all the Anonymous people come out (oxymoron alert) - what up with that?

I'm a huge fan of Jared Diamond's work (he also writes great stuff on the sexes), and his model of civilization ascendancy is dead on and well supported. The piece that wasnt resolved in Guns Germs and Steel was why the Europeans have done so much dominating and colonizing as opposed to the Chinese when both had equally developed civilizations. I have never heard anyone argue that European domincance is due to the fact that "Europeans are just evil" and be taken seriously, yet this guy can call black people an
"embarassment to God" and get our response.

Same Guy As Above said...

UBM, he may indeed be coming from a place of reason in his own way. The language might be strong but it's still self-criticism. You called his article as example of "racial shame." Did you expect the failures of Africa to inspire racial pride?

Anonymous said...


Your post stated "Guns Germs and Steel was why the Europeans have done so much dominating and colonizing as opposed to the Chinese when both had equally developed civilizations."

Although the Europeans are now viewed as notorious colonizers and by the way some are still quite involved in Africa still (a few examples, the

Europeans are by no means the only people that practiced a form of colonialism (most of the great empires in world history did in some form). As for the Chinese please go over their history again. Many of the land they now own was from incorporating different peoples and cultures after conquering them and for recent examples you have Tibet. The Chinese government considered their military takeover there a "liberation" and are still calling it such ( and I would also do a little research on their current dealings in Africa.

That said regardless it does not justify the past European colonialism. I just wanted to remind you that there was such activity practiced in China as well as many other cultures (i.e. the Persian empire and the Ottoman Turks,etc.)

Anonymous said...

Rubbish. Whoever agrees to such statement needs some therapy. Because you are black doesn't mean you are inferior.

Intelligence is dependent on a number of factors.

A black man agrees?? Even blacks can be racists!!

Anonymous said...

Dear nigerias,
The case that alibi asked that are we African's stupid is a legible case.where on earth would you find such good land and the whole nation is still hungry, so much oil but the people still can't afford oil, so much money, so much water but we have no drinkable water. no roads , no hospitals of course we are very smart but that is exactly our problem.we have learn how to manage ourselves first. someone mention s that africa nation are young but when shall we be matured enough to do things for ourselves.
All we need is peace , jobs security, no corruption , no bribes to look for jobs .
There is alot of evil be perpetrated inthis continent yet you have church /mosque in every corner of the street, who are deceiving God or ourselves. nothing would change for the African continent until we learned our lessons.