Michael McWilliams on white privilege: Bling is born – The African Cargo Cult | Fin24

Michael McWilliams on white privilege: Bling is born – The African Cargo Cult

Mar 10 2016 07:54

In this fascinating series, Michael McWilliams is exploring the concept of white privilege and how one gets it. Below is the fourth part which looks at both what Britain has that Africa doesn’t, and what Africa has that Britain doesn’t. It’s another sensitive yet must have discussion, which should keep the conversations healthy and ongoing. – Stuart Lowman.

Michael McWilliams

At the beginning of this series, we looked at the excellent educational achievements Africans living in Britain had made when compared to Caribbean/Africans and even the British themselves.

What does Britain have and Africa doesn’t?

The first instinct was to look at what Britain gave these Africans compared to what they would have received at home. Many positive attributes and qualities could be identified. Punctuality, better nutrition, superior medical care, a bent towards abiding by laws and rules and any number of other differences could make a big contribution to how a child progresses in Britain against its progress back home in Africa.

This is all well and good in explaining how Africans could quickly attain equality with their British schoolmates, but it doesn’t explain why the African children in Britain are now almost twice as likely to attain a university education compared to British children.

What does Britain not have that Africa does?

Perhaps a fruitful avenue of enquiry would be to examine what Britain doesn’t have, compared to Africa. Is there something in Africa which holds Africans back from reaching their true potential?

If we presume that, apart from the usual suspects (nutrition, poor education, poor timekeeping etc.) there is something else that, if removed, would produce the African super-kids we see in Britain today.

Two related but completely separate studies could perhaps have the answer.

A couple of Professors from Finland and England concluded an extensive worldwide project about six years ago.

                                                                            Michael McWilliams

Prof. Tatu Vanhanen and Prof. Richard Lynn made a worldwide study of national IQ scores and national income to see whether these were in any way related. Unsurprisingly, a strong correlation can be noticed between national average IQs and national average incomes.

Those countries with the highest national IQ had the higher national income and of course, the lowest national IQs had the lowest incomes.

Naturally there were exceptions to the rule. Those countries with fairly low IQ scores, but which possessed big oil or diamond reserves bucked the trend.

Read alsoMichael McWilliams on White Privilege and how to get it

As we are looking at Africans in Britain we should look at the national IQs in the countries from which they emigrated. As we saw earlier, the bulk of the British Africans came as wealthy Ghanaians and poor Zimbabweans. The national Average IQs are, according to the Vanhanan and Lynn study, Ghana 73 and Zimbabwe 82. This, compared to the average in Britain of 100, is quite a shortfall to make up, never mind outpace.

An American study may provide the answer as to how people who came from lower IQ countries managed to out-educate themselves compared to privileged residents in the host nation.

Disease loads in the population.

Christopher Epping, Corey Fincher and Randy Thornhill of the University of New Mexico looked at the correlation between viral load in populations and compared it to that population’s IQ.

Again, a strong correlation can be made between the general health of a population and its IQ score. The sicker the nation, the lower its IQ.


Of course the opposite is also true. The lower the average IQ of a nation, the sicker it is.

If we presume, for this instance, that sickness aids and abets low IQ, we can see that this could be the magic ingredient in why British Africans outperform their British schoolmates.

Maybe, when African immigrants enter Britain, they are, for the first time, not exposed to the parasitic, viral and bacterial illnesses that are so common in Africa.

The only common childhood parasitic infestation common to Africa and Britain are thread worms, and these would be quickly diagnosed by British teachers and quickly dealt with.

If we are inclined to believe these studies, it would be wise for African parents who want to give their kids privilege, to pay very close attention to their children’s health. Ensuring that children are inoculated with the legally required vaccinations is an essential start and keeping children away from rivers brimming with e-coli, bilharzia and cholera is essential. Malaria areas should also be avoided like, well, like the plague.

This is of course common sense, but by studying the findings of the above-mentioned papers, one can see how vitally important the continued health of a child is in its development stages and in its eventual privileged existence.

Privilege Secret Number 14: A healthy child is a clever child.

Britain’s gentle mockery of Pomp and Circumstance.

Any African who lives in Britain for a while, will have to get used to, and adapt to, the British sense of humor and their habitual self-effacing attitude. The British see the typical African love of bling and self-promotion as ridiculous at best and having an imperfect understanding of how the world works at worst.

The African tendency to confuse cause and effect will be constantly mocked and Africans in Britain who want to assimilate, have to re-think their customary ways of thinking.

In Africa, a leader will often measures his own worth by the size of his cavalcade and the manufacturers of the cars in it. The more limos and the more flashing lights, the more powerful the leader. His clothes will be Saville Row or Hugo Boss suits and the shoes will be two-toned leather of the most impossible shininess.

In Britain on the other hand, one is likely to bump into a multi-billionaire trudging about the fields wearing a moth-eaten Tweed jacked shod in leaky old wellington boots.

The birth of Bling

This culture clash is perhaps best illustrated by recounting a peculiar effect observed on Pacific Islanders during the Second World War.

During the American advance on Japan during the last World War, they visited many islands in the Pacific where no White man had ever set foot.

Many temporary airfields were built on these islands to act as stepping-stones to the conquest of Japan.

While construction took place, the natives on these islands looked on in wonder. Squads of soldiers would march off every morning and do strange things with metal sheets, and big , loud machines, leveling the undergrowth and building huts with high poles around them.

After a while, some of the strangers sat in the huts with cups over their ears and called in huge flying machines from the air to come to the island. The men, or perhaps Gods, in these machines brought all sorts of precious cargo and they were generous in spreading it about among the islanders.

Things were very good on the island while the flying machines came, but suddenly it all stopped and the White men left and never returned.

Chiefs on the islands were beseeched by their people to bring back the pale people in their flying machines, so the islanders went about the rituals that they had seen the first visitors perform. They formed villagers into squads and marched around in the morning. They built radio huts with tall straight masts made from palm trees. Coconut halves made headphones and vines the many cables between boxes and masts allowed chiefs to shout into short sticks and call for the flying machines to return.

A religious cult, called the Cargo Cult was built up around the belief that, if everything was done in strict imitation of those first Americans, the flying machines with their valuable cargo would return to the islands.

This confusion between cause and effect, although extreme in the case of the Pacific Islanders, is common when two very different cultures meet.

The African Cargo Cult

The arrival of explorers and colonists in Africa also gave rise to a lot of confusion between cause and effect.

Without any knowledge of how commerce and government worked, it appeared to the natives that a desk and a pile of papers were all one needed to be able to own many cows, wagons and sheep. Frequent meetings with friends, lubricated with strong drink seemed to make one richer.

The colonists made little or no attempt to disabuse the locals of their many misconceptions because educating the natives was pretty low on a hard-working imperialists to-do list. There were unfenced lands to claim and countries to annex. Even their own children didn’t at first get much of a privilege boost in the beginning.

The African loyal subjects therefore understandably often saw things through the wrong end of the telescope and their beliefs became grounded in an incorrect concept of Western civilization.

Colonial soldiers wore many decorations and the greater the rank, the more medals and ribbons. It followed that when freedom and majority rule eventually came, native military leaders would bedeck themselves with all the decoration they could find, thus ensuring that they were the bravest and most important people in their country.

The image of Idi Amin Dada VC and Bar, bedecked with every medal and proficiency badge known to man, has been repeated every time a new African country gained independence.

The more bling, the better the leader as far as African are concerned.

Western civilization has the complete opposite view. The better the leader, the more the bling -until you get so good that you don’t need the bling anymore and a Tweed jacket and Wellies will do the job.

Although the Cargo Cult prevails back home in Africa with senior managers giving themselves big expensive cars to ensure they can do their jobs, the British Africans would have quickly lost those notions if they were to assimilate well.

The misdirection of funds and energy in Africa by political and business leaders buying the biggest and best cars, executive jets and houses instead of trying to make things work is staggering. Their economies quickly stagger along too because of it.

To be continued…

  • Michael McWilliams, a member of the Biznews Community, has been married for 35 years and has three sons. Born in Johannesburg, schooled at Marist Brothers Inanda and St. Charles Pietermaritzburg he was a paratrooper in SADF and the captain of the SA Parachuting Team which won the Bronze Medal in the World Championships. Author of “The Battle for Cassinga” and the novel “Osama’s Angel”, his career has ranged from TV News cameraman to national marketing manager of Peugeot and running his own design consultancy. His hobbies are opera, hunting and classical music.

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