Friday, February 11, 2011

From Fanon to Africa, with Love

by Mumia Abu-Jamal
San Francisco Bayview
December 25, 2008

As the economies of the West and East tumble, tremors may also be felt in African economies, as heightened food prices push populations to the breaking point of near starvation. In country after country the struggle for life becomes even harder, and it seems like leaders are more remote than ever.

Whenever I read of economic or ethnic strife in any part of Africa, I’m reminded of Dr. Frantz Fanon, the ethno-psychiatrist born in the Caribbean island of Martinique, who became a revolutionary, working on behalf of the Algerian Revolution, and writer of the masterpiece, “The Wretched of the Earth” (1966).

Fanon’s work was widely read on three continents and is still worthy of study, not least because the insightful thinker predicted how African rulers would rule if they didn’t unite the continent’s various peoples and failed to develop truly independent and socialist governing systems.

Many African post-colonial leaders, trained as they were in Eurocentric schools, sought to replicate such theories in African societies which could only result in disaster. Fanon is cutting when he describes the role of these Eurocentric African leaders who were attempting to recreate little pieces of Europe in their former colonies:
“In underdeveloped countries, we have seen that no true bourgeoisie exists; there is only a sort of little greedy caste, avid and voracious, with the mind of a huckster, only too glad to accept the dividends that the former colonial power hands out to it. This get-rich-quick middle class shows itself incapable of great ideas or of inventiveness. It remembers what it has read in European textbooks and imperceptibly it becomes not even the replica of Europe, but its caricature.”
When leaders were trained in capitalist colonizing economic theory, the most important lesson they learned was how to recreate colonialism, not to destroy it.

Read the rest here.

Comment:  I must admit that my intention was to miss President Zuma's State of the Nation address last night.  Around 7:15pm I was on a treadmill in a very empty gym thinking that listening to Zuma talk plans, plots, and progress would be too painful for me.

I did, however, catch enough of the speech to confirm my fear(s).

The part that stuck out for me was the government's intention to 're-manufacture nationalist consent' (to borrow from Herman and Chomsky) by putting flags in schools and insisting that every citizen learn to sing the Frankenstein assemblage they call a national anthem.

It would seem that the government is worried.  More and more citizens are not buying the bullsh*t about "miracles" and "rainbows" anymore.

There is a growing discontent with the lack of everything and the abuse of power that the government and its lackeys are replicating.

The problem for Zuma is exactly the problem that Mumia speaks to in the above selection and it has been a problem that has bedeviled the ruling African National Congress throughout its 99 year history.

The ANC has not been able to create and implement a vision of post-colonial independence that is untied from the shackles of its colonial past (even its touted theory of non-racialism is in fact a reinterpretation of colonial racialization).

What we see is not a revolution.  It is not a new way of living and thinking about politics and independence.  It is, rather, the same game with the same consequences.

All the ANC has been able to do is mimic an ideal of government that is driven by a cultivated inferiority complex.

Consequently, South Africa is still just a white racist republic in ideology and function.  The only thing different is that a black government is playing white-face.


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