Church Land Programme: Is Fanon's Liberation of the Colonized Mind by violence on the Rotting Corpse of Settler Still Relevant Today?
Psych: Frantz Fanon advice in Wretched of the Earth is that liberation of the Africans 'colonized mind' requires him to enact violence upon the rotting corpses of the settlers. True liberation for Fanon could only be achieved through violence. False liberation, occurs where “freedom” is granted or ceded by those in power, such as by the Apartheid regime. For Africans to be truly free, they must liberate themselves by violence.
Why did Mandela refer to The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon's Famous Handbook for Black Liberation by Cleansing Violent Revolution in his Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech?
"Moved by that appeal and inspired by the eminence you have thrust upon us, we undertake that we too will do what we can to contribute to the renewal of our world so that none should, in future, be described as the "wretched of the earth"." - Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 10 December 1993
Andrea Muhrrteyn | White Refugees | 07 October 2012
Church Land Programme's Frantz Fanon conference: 50 years on - Why is Frantz Fanon still relevant today?". Animation is CLP's core practice. This practice involves an iterative process that applies the learning and action cycle in people's specific situations and with the intention that they mobilise themselves to act to change that situation in ways that they decide.
On May 30th, Nigel Gibson, the author of Fanonian Practices in South Africa was joined by a group of "writers, militants and thinkers from South Africa in Pietermaritzburg: S'bu Zikode, Richard Pithouse, Michael Neocosmos and Itumeleng Mosala". The discussion "was a practical matter - a question of praxis and living politics: what are the ways in which Fanon's radical humanism and fighting spirit might still be relevant, helpful and challenging for the praxis of people engaged in, or connected with, grassroots emancipatory struggle here and now? As the Church Land Programme, we were also interested to explore an important historical line connecting Fanon's work with black theology, black consciousness and emancipatory struggles in South Africa."
Frantz Fanon (July 20, 1925 – December 6, 1961) was a Martinique-born French psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary and writer whose work is influential in the fields of post-colonial studies, critical theory and Marxism. Fanon is known as a radical existential humanist thinker on the issue of decolonization and the psychopathology of colonization.
Fanon supported the Algerian struggle for independence and became a member of the Algerian National Liberation Front. His life and works have incited and inspired anti-colonial liberation movements for more than four decades.
For Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth, the colonizer's presence in Algeria is based on sheer military strength. Any resistance to this strength must also be of a violent nature because it is the only 'language' the colonizer speaks. Thus, violent resistance is a necessity imposed by the colonists upon the colonized. The relevance of language and the reformation of discourse pervades much of his work, which is why it is so interdisciplinary, spanning psychiatric concerns to encompass politics, sociology, anthropology, linguistics and literature
Frantz Fanon inspired among others Mandela (A Land Ruled by the Gun) and Steve Biko's concepts of Black Consciousness. Fanon is considered one of the twentieth century's most important theorists of revolution, colonialism, and racial differences. His book Wretched of the Earth was considered the Handbook for the Black Revolution, and considered a classic alongside The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Wretched of the Earth provides an analysis of the psychology of the native: or as Fanon refers to the 'colonized mind' and how liberation can only occur by means of “violence on the rotting corpse of the settler”. Wretched of the Earth had a major impact on the anticolonialism and black-consciousness movements around the world.
American president Barack Obama cites Fanon as an intellectual influence in Dreams from My Father (pg 100-101): “To avoid being mistaken for a sellout,I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist Professors and the structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets. We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets. At night,in the dorms, we discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy. When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society's stifling constraints. We weren't indifferent or careless or insecure. We were alienated.”
Church Land Programme Discussion: 50 Years on: Why is Fanon Still Relevant Today?
Nigel Gibson, author of Fanonian Practices in South Africa From Steve Biko to Abahlali Basemjondolo (01:39)
Church Land Programme Fanon Event Notes state that "To mark the 50 th anniversary of his death, and to engage the legacy of his life and work, CLP invited some of the world's and South Africa's leading radical and Fanonian scholars and activists to present, debate and discuss with us. The Frantz Fanon Prize is awarded annually by the Caribbean Philosophical Association. In 2009, Nigel Gibson was a recipient in recognition of his “overall body of work in Frantz Fanon studies, which includes many essays and anthologies, including a recent set connecting Fanon's thought to the shackdwellers' movement in South Africa, and especially so for his influential book Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination”. In the year marking the 50 th anniversary of Fanon's death, [Nigel] Gibson has been central to bringing out two new books exploring the life, legacy and relevance of Fanon's work and politics."
"On May 30th, Nigel was joined by an extraordinary group of writers, militants and thinkers from South Africa in Pietermaritzburg: S'bu Zikode, Richard Pithouse, Michael Neocosmos and Itumeleng Mosala. For us this discussion was a practical matter - a question of praxis and living politics: what are the ways in which Fanon's radical humanism and fighting spirit might still be relevant, helpful and challenging for the praxis of people engaged in, or connected with, grassroots emancipatory struggle here and now?"
Graham Philpott, Director and Secretary for the Board, Church Land Program (02:50)
"As the Church Land Programme, we were also interested to explore an important historical line connecting Fanon's work with black theology, black consciousness and emancipatory struggles in South Africa. This history is important, and often sidelined or misrepresented in hegemonic narratives of struggles in our country. Even more important though, is the relevance and power of that tradition for current emancipatory struggles. There are those who resist oppression, and who continue to find God in the liberated minds and actions of grassroots rebellion."
Invited for discussion were: * Peter Hallward: Fanon and political will :: Michael Neocosmos: The Nation and its Politics: Fanon, emancipatory nationalism and political sequences :: Richard Pithouse: Fidelity to Fanon :: Mabogo More: Fanon and the Land Question in (Post) Apartheid South Africa :: S'bu Zikode: Fanon and Abahlalism :: Nigel Gibson: Fanonian practices in South Africa: From Steve Biko to Abahlali baseMjondolo.
In Fanonian Practices in South Africa: From Steve Biko to Abahlali baseMjondolo - a review by Donald Paul, Paul writes:
In setting out his answers, Gibson manages to clearly convey Fanon’s criticism of imperialism and the intelligence Biko brought to the struggle for democratic freedom. In other words, you do not need to read The Wretched of the Earth or I Write What I Like to follow his arguments.
Fanon is probably only matched by Mohandas Gandhi as an anti-imperialist thinker. Admittedly, Fanon and Biko do not endorse Gandhi’s philosophy of passive resistance – as Gibson points out, Fanon mentions violence more than 70 times in the first chapter of The Wretched alone – but they do share the idea that a nation’s independence does not come about by simply replacing one set of rulers (the NP) with another nationalist movement (the ANC).
Sbu Zikode (02:55): How Frantz Fanon is the prophet for Abahlali baseMajondolo.
Gibson argues that pretty much the same has happened in South Africa and that the real liberation revolution is now happening in the “directly democratic and localist shack dwellers’ organisation” Abahlali baseMajondolo (AbM).
AbM was formed in 2005 in response to plans to forcibly evict residents from their shacks in Durban. Its current president is the quietly spoken 35-year-old S’bu Zikode. And it is he who has the final word: “It is one thing if we are beneficiaries who need delivery. It is another thing if we are citizens who want to shape the future of our cities, even our country. It is another thing if we are human beings who have decided that it is our duty to humanise the world.”
Richard Pithouse (03:03)
Richard Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University, where he is involved in their Frantz Fanon curriculum. He holds an MA in philosophy and worked as an academic for many years. He is the author of among others: Frantz Fanon Fifty Year Years Later.
In Fidelity to Fanon, he writes:
Frantz Fanon and the Perspective of Humanism
The key argument in this article is that there are three good reasons to take Fanon’s humanism seriously. The first is that he took it seriously; the second is that he wrote to wrest humanism from the distortions of racism and colonialism; and the third reason is that Fanon’s humanism is a current in the movement that Michael Hart and Antonio Negri call revolutionary humanism and which they distinguish from reactionary humanism. The second and more subterranean argument is that Fanon’s humanism provides an opportunity to revitalise our thinking and practice of politics in contemporary South Africa.
For some it is specifically Fanon’s sentence that claims that violence can liberate the oppressed and the oppressor from self and other objectification that is objectionable. Sekyi-Otu and Gordon’s observations apply to this claim but there is also an enormous amount of evidence from accounts of the lived experience of oppression to indicate that Fanon (and, indeed respectable white Hegel - from whom Fanon derives this argument) is quite right.
In The Spectre of Fanon
When McDonalds’ first Durban branch landed in Old Fort Road a local business columnist read the empty smile and iconic arches as an advance blessing from the Almighty Market. He excitedly proposed the building of a mini-Disneyland in Pine Street. Not one derisory letter appeared in the newspaper. But a few days later some large and bold graffiti appeared on the perimeter wall. It chose not to confront the dangers of cargo cults directly and instead instructed customers to “Read Frantz Fanon Now!” and posed the question “Would Che Guevara, Steve Biko and Frantz Fanon chow here?” Somebody had hurled a chunk of meaning so hard it had lodged in Babylon’s Teflon face.
He also found that his official duties required him to treat both the Algerian victims of torture and their French torturers. He soon realised that colonial society was insane and that his patients’ problems were a consequence of a social rather than a personal pathology. He couldn’t in good faith continue to treat the symptoms of disease while ignoring its causes and so in 1956 he wrote a letter of resignation.
He took a short break from writing to travel to Rome where he met with Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir to discuss the introduction which Sartre had enthusiastically agreed to write for The Wretched of the Earth. Sartre and Fanon are reported to have spent 20 hours in a non-stop discussion. The book was completed in just 10 weeks and is written with an incandescent passion. It opens with an analysis of revolutionary violence. Fanon argues that colonialism is a system of systemic structural violence which eventually triggers a violent reaction. In his view the violent nature of that reaction is tragic but cathartic. Its catharsis lies in its ability to dissolve the inferiority complex of the colonised and to release the tension which has been inscribed in the body during a lifetime of oppression.
In Fanon and Land (PDF). [Church Land Programme's Statement on Land: Land: A Statement of Belief (PDF)], More writes:
Indeed, Fanon echoes Douglass when he asserts that in a racist, colonial or oppressive world, “we can be sure that nothing is going to be given free” (1967a:221). Fanon understood that since colonialism is predicated and grounded on violence, this is all the more reason why decolonization must be a violent phenomenon, precisely because it has (1) to accomplish the total replacement of one “species” of human beings by another, (2) to give birth to “new men, new language, new humanity” (1968:35), and (3) finally to give concrete meaning to the injunction, “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last” by transforming the colonized from “machine-animal men” to the “human.” Whilst Fanon acknowledges that in certain exceptional cases decolonization can be achieved peacefully, he however insists that such independence is a prelude to neocolonialism or merely a sham (flag) independence. On the contrary, a violent liberation struggle leads to a higher, purer, or truer form of independence.
[..] True liberation, Fanon concludes, is not simply decolonization but it involves “the total destruction of the colonial system” (1967b:105).
[..] They proclaim abstract principles of a philosophicopolitical nature such as “the rights of people to self-determination, the rights of man to freedom from hunger, and human dignity, and the increasing affirmation of the principle; ‘One Man one Vote’” (Fanon 1968:59). The national political parties, Fanon continues, afraid of the perceived military might of the colonizer, avoid or half-heartedly engage in an armed struggle. This avoidance or half-heartedness towards an armed revolution is caused simply by the fact that they never intended to radically overthrow the ystem in the first place. In fact most of the leaders, Fanon asserts, are fundamentally pacifists and legalists. Afraid of the fire-power of the colonialists, they preach non-violence as a viable solution to the political problems they face; hence the negotiated settlement and the compromise and betrayal of the revolution.
What then does Fanon suggest? Given the fact that colonialism is always a violent phenomenon, given also the further fact that the oppressed have realized that “colonialism never gives anything away for nothing,” they also realize that true liberation can be possible through their own effort. In other words, “it is the colonial peoples who must liberate themselves from colonial domination” (Fanon 1967b:105). The colonial people, Fanon insists, must make a distinction between the “true liberation” of unfettered freedom and a “pseudo-independence” whose economy is dominated by colonizers. Unlike the latter, true liberation means the total destruction of the colonial system. Describing what true liberation means, Fanon writes in the first pages of The Wretched: “Decolonization is always a violent phenomenon. At whatever level we study it… decolonization is quite simply the replacing of a certain ‘species’ of men by another ‘species’ of men. Without any period of transition, there is a total, complete, and an absolute substitution” (1968:35-36).
This process of substituting one “species” of people for another, of transforming the “narrow world strewn with prohibitions” (Fanon 1968:37), can be achieved through absolute violence precisely because no one expects colonialism to commit suicide. True liberation for Fanon can be achieved only when one fights for it. False liberation, on the contrary, occurs where “freedom” is granted or ceded by those in power. Unlike the FLN, which in seeking true liberation swept away all mystifying phrases such as “the new Algeria” or “the unique historic case,” which refused to negotiate with the French on behalf of the Algerian people but instead insisted that France would have to restore the whole country or the land to the Algerian people, the ANC negotiated a “pseudo independence” which excluded the restoration of the land to the African people yet embraced mystifying oppressors’ expressions such as “Miracle settlement” or “the new South Africa.” Indeed, as Fanon reminds us, the people and the ANC ought to have known “that historical law which lays down that certain concessions are the cloak for a tighter rein.” Yet it is still astonishing, Fanon continues, to see “with what complacency the leaders of certain political parties enter into undefined compromises with the former colonialists” (1968:142).
[..] The Land Question
Fanon similarly contends that the land remains the fundamental object of colonial-racial conflict and violence. Colonialism, he argues, is “the conquest of a national territory and the oppression of a people” (Fanon 1967b:81). The politics of genuine independence thus necessarily becomes the politics of land. Since this is the case, then every program of true liberation must have as its fundamental objective putting an end to colonial occupation by restoring the land back to its original owners (the natives). For, as the epigraph above indicates, land is the most essential requirement for life. What this means is that liberation from colonial oppression can only make sense if the land problem is resolved by its return to the indigenous people from whom it has been violently seized.
I argue, following Fanon, that true independence results from reappropriation of land by the colonized from the colonizers and consequently that South Africa’s recent independence, because it failed to deliver the land back to its original owners, the indigenous African people, amounts to a phantom independence or what Fanon calls “pseudo” or “flag” independence."
Documents from Event: Fanon Event Notes (PDF). Gibson Fanon Seminar: Living Fanon - A Commemoration (PDF). Hallward: Fanon and Political Will (PDF). Neocosmos: Some Comments on Democracy (PDF), The Nation and its Politics (PDF)
Video remarks from: Busi Ngema (02:59), Itumeleng Musala (02:08), Michael Neocosmos (03:23), Ntombifuthi Shandu (03:51), Rev Mavuso (02:45), Sbu Zikode (02:55).
Frantz Fanon: True liberation for can only be achieved through violence, not negotiations or reconciliation.
“And it is clear that in the colonial countries the peasants alone are revolutionary, for they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The starving peasant, outside the class system is the first among the exploited to discover that only violence pays. For him there is no compromise, no possible coming to terms; colonization and decolonization a simply a question of relative strength.”
― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief.”
― Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
“I wish to be acknowledged not as Black but as white . . . who but a white woman could do this for me? By loving me she proves that I am worthy of white love. I am loved like a white man. I am a white man. Her noble love takes me onto the road of self realization—I marry white culture, white beauty, white whiteness. When my restless hands grasp those white breasts, they grasp white civilization and dignity and make them mine.” (1952:188)
-- Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
Adam Shatz: 'Frantz Fanon': The Doctor Prescribed Violence
Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (48:19)
When the third world was the great hope of the international left -- three very long decades ago, in other words -- no book had a more seductive mystique than The Wretched of the Earth. Its author, Frantz Fanon, was a psychiatrist, originally from Martinique, who had become a spokesman for the Algerian revolution against French colonialism. He was black, dashing and, even better, a martyr -- succumbing to leukemia at the age of 36, a year before Algeria's independence in 1962. Fanon was hardly alone in championing the violent overthrow of colonialism. But his flair for incendiary rhetoric was unmatched.
If The Wretched of the Earth was not “the handbook for the black revolution,” as its publisher boasted, it was certainly a sourcebook of revolutionary slogans.
(Eldridge Cleaver once said that “every brother on a rooftop can quote Fanon.”) “Violence,” Fanon argued most famously, “is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restores his self-respect.” This was mau-mauing with Left Bank panache. Not to be upstaged, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in his preface, “To shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses at the same time.”
[He concludes] In Algeria, as in most of Africa, independence was no sooner achieved than it was confiscated by generals, bureaucrats and economic elites. Although Fanon remains indispensable for his writings on race and colonialism, his utopian program for the third world has gone the way of the colonial empires whose doom he foretold. [Source]
The Wretched of the Earth: Handbook for Black Liberation by Cleansing Violent Revolution
Decolonization is the veritable creation of new men. But this creation owes nothing of its legitimacy to any supernatural power; the "thing" which has been colonized becomes man during the same process by which it frees itself…..
The native who decides to put the program into practice, and to become its moving force, is ready for violence at all times. From birth it is clear to him that this narrow world, strewn with prohibitions, can only be called in question by absolute violence.
.... The settlers' town is a strongly built town, all made of stone and steel. It is a brightly lit town; the streets are covered with asphalt, and the garbage cans swallow all the leavings, unseen, unknown and hardly thought about.[…] The settler's town is a well-fed town, an easygoing town; its belly is always full of good things. The settlers' town is a town of white people, of foreigners.
The town belonging to the colonized people, or at least the native town, the Negro village, the medina, the reservation, is a place of ill fame, peopled by men of evil repute. They are born there, it matters little where or how; they die there, it matters not where, nor how. It is a world without spaciousness; men live there on top of each other, and their huts are built one on top of the other. The native town is a hungry town, starved of bread, of meat, of shoes, of coal, of light. The native town is a crouching village, a town on its knees, a town wallowing in the mire. It is a town of niggers and dirty Arabs. The look that the native turns on the settler's town is a look of lust, a look of envy; it expresses his dreams of possession—all manner of possession: to sit at the settler's table, to sleep in the settler's bed, with his wife if possible. The colonized man is an envious man. And this the settler knows very well; when their glances meet he ascertains bitterly, always on the defensive, "They want to take our place." It is true, for there is no native who does not dream at least once a day of setting himself up in the settler's place.
.... In the colonies, the foreigner coming from another country imposed his rule by means of guns and machines. In defiance of his successful transplantation, in spite of his appropriation, the settler still remains a foreigner. It is neither the act of owning factories, nor estates, nor a bank balance which distinguishes the governing classes. The governing race is first and foremost those who come from elsewhere, those who are unlike the original inhabitants, "the others."
The destruction of the colonial world is no more and no less that the abolition of one zone, its burial in the depths of the earth or its expulsion from the country.
In the colonial context the settler only ends his work of breaking in the native when the latter admits loudly and intelligibly the supremacy of the white man's values. In the period of decolonization, the colonized masses mock at these very values, insult them, and vomit them up.
For the native, life can only spring up again out of the rotting corpse of the settler. This then is the correspondence, term by term, between the two trains of reasoning.
.... But it so happens that for the colonized people this violence, because it constitutes their only work, invests their characters with positive and creative qualities. The practice of violence binds them together as a whole, since each individual forms a violent link in the great chain, a part of the great organism of violence which has surged upward in reaction to the settler's violence in the beginning. The groups recognize each other and the future nation is already indivisible. The armed struggle mobilizes the people; that is to say, it throws them in one way and in one direction.
The mobilization of the masses, when it arises out of the war of liberation, introduces into each man's consciousness the ideas of a common cause, of a national destiny, and of a collective history. In the same way the second phase, that of the building-up of the nation, is helped on by the existence of this cement which has been mixed with blood and anger. Thus we come to a fuller appreciation of the originality of the words used in these underdeveloped countries. During the colonial period the people are called upon to fight against oppression; after national liberation, they are called upon to fight against poverty, illiteracy, and underdevelopment. The struggle, they say, goes on. The people realize that life is an unending contest.
We have said that the native's violence unifies the people. By its very structure, colonialism is separatist and regionalist. Colonialism does not simply state the existence of tribes; it also reinforces it and separates them. The colonial system encourages chieftaincies and keeps alive the old Marabout confraternities. Violence is in action all-inclusive and national. It follows that it is closely involved in the liquidation of regionalism and of tribalism. Thus the national parties show no pity at all toward the caids and the customary chiefs. Their destruction is the preliminary to the unification of the people.
At the level of individuals, violence is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restores his self-respect. [(PDF)]
Robert C. Smith: Fanon and the Concept of Colonial Violence
Fanon departs most sharply from Marx in his understanding of the functions of violence in the revolutionary process. Violence was not key to Marx’s analysis of revolution; he agreed that violence would probably be necessary because the bourgeoisie would in all likelihood resist its demise violently; however, he did admit the possibility of nonviolent revolutionary change in certain advanced industrial societies, notably the United States and Britain.
Thus, although Marx expects violence to be a part of the revolutionary process, he does not consider it historically necessary nor does he make the concept central to his analysis. For Fanon, the exact reverse seems to be the case. He argued that violence was indispensable in the decolonization process, a categorical imperative, without which one could not talk of revolution—or at least one could only talk of it.
In his essay, “Toward the Liberation of Africa,” he writes: “Violence alone, committed by the people, violence organized and educated by its leaders, makes it possible for the masses to understand social truths and gives the key to them. Without that struggle, without that knowledge of the practice of action, there is nothing save a minimum of readaptation, a few reforms, at the top, a flag waving: and down there at the bottom an undivided masses still living in the middle ages, endlessly marking time” (1967:118).
To understand Fanon’s insistence on the absolute necessity of violence, one has to understand that violence is more than a mere political method or tool to force the removal of the European oppressor; for Fanon, it is a vital means of psychic and social liberation. He writes, “Violence is man recreating himself: the native cures himself through force of arms.” Thus, unlike Marx, Fanon seems to imply that even if the colonialists peacefully withdraw, the decolonization process is somehow aborted, that liberation is incomplete—the native remains an enslaved person in the neo-colonial social system.
The native’s inner violence remains pent up, unexpressed and is likely to explode in renewed inter-tribal war, civil war, coups or other forms of post independence civil violence, deprived of its only viable outlet—the settler. Thus, the function of violence is only incidentally political; it’s main function is psycho-social. He writes: “The native’s weapon is proof of his humanity. For in the first days of the revolt you must kill—to shoot down a white man is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses at the same time: (1963:71).
Fanon seems to have reached this conclusion from generalizations drawn from case studies of the psyches of the oppressed and the oppressor in Algeria. From this psychoanalytic work he “desired” certain assumptions about the nature of colonialism, and liberation. First, he assumed that colonialism, by nature, is violent.
Fanon writes: “Colonialism . . . is violence in its natural state, and it will only yield when confronted with greater violence. The policeman and the soldier, by their immediate presence and their frequent and direct action, maintain contract with the native and advise him by means of rifle butts and napalm not to budge. It is obvious here that government speaks the language of pure force. The intermediary does not lighten the oppression nor seek to hide the domination; he shows them up and puts them into practice with the clear conscience of an upholder of peace; yet he is the bringer of violence into the home and into the mind of the native” (1963:91).
He further argues that colonialism creates in the native a perpetual tendency toward violence, a “tonicity of muscles” which is deprived of an outlet. Hence, the phenomena of “Niggers Killing Niggers on Saturday Night.”
Here he seems to imply that this violence is inevitable, that it must be expressed if the colonial personality and society is to be free. He argues that it is incorrect to view this violence as the effect of hatred or the resurrection of savage instincts.
On the contrary, he suggests that, given the colonial context, it is the only way the “wretched of the earth” can be free.11 For Marx, violence served no such purpose; and here, Fanon is probably more Sorelian than Marxist.12 Indeed, Marx probably would have recoiled in horror at Fanon’s violence thesis. Yet, one must remember that Marx was dealing with an alienated personality, Fanon with a dehumanized one. At the level of colonized individual, Fanon writes: “For the native, life can only spring up again out of the rotting corpse of the settler” (1963:43).13 [NTurner]
Mandisi Majavu: The Essential Steve Biko:
In all Biko's work and statements, the Frantz Fanon influence can be detected. Even the concept of a black consciousness in liberating black people from their own psychological oppression is a cornerstone of Fanon's argument.
Be that as it may, Biko was undoubtedly the most articulate spokesperson for black people during the early 1970s. He could pinpoint problems black people were facing in this country at that time - their own feelings of inferiority and self-hate. [SA.Info]
Thomas K. Ranuga: Frantz Fanon and Black Consciousness in Azania (South Africa):
“The black is a black man; that is, as a result of a series of aberrations of affect, he is rooted at the core of a universe from which he must be extricated. The problem is important. I propose nothing short of the liberation of the man of colour from himself.” -- Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
The emergence of the Black Consciousness philosophy in the late 1960s is one of the most important ideological developments ever to take place in the evolution of African political thought in Azania. This philosophy surfaced at a time when above-ground black political activities were virtually nonexistent in Azania following the banning of the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) by the white racist government in 1960. It was at this critical historical juncture that the alienation of black youth from dominant white society found concrete expression in the categorical rejection of white liberal leadership by the newly formed all-black South African Students Organisation (SASO) which laid the foundation for and became the cradle of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) of Azania. The founders of SASO advocated the adoption of a radical political ideology which, in addition to its deep roots in orthodox African nationalism, borrowed major elements from the revolutionary writings of Frantz Fanon. It is the purpose of this analysis to show the dynamic link between the radical ideas of Frantz Fanon and the philosophy of Black Consciousness as propounded and effectively articulated by Steve Biko, the black militant who has come to be known as the father of Black Consciousness in Azania. The major ideas to be focussed upon pertain to political consciousness, the role of white liberals in black liberation movements and the crucial question of total liberation.
The Colonized Mind
Partly because of his training in psychiatry and partly because of his personal involvement in revolutionary activities, Fanon was greatly preoccupied with and deeply distressed by one major legacy of colonialism and imperialism, the paralyzing inferiority complex of blacks and their abject idolization of whites as their role models. His writings were aimed principally at galvanizing the physically and mentally colonized people of the Third World to rise up and retrieve their self-esteem, dignity and freedom and thus resume their rightful place as respectable members of the World community. His major analytical focus was the mind or consciousness as the repository of crippling fears and debilitating complexes. Blacks had to realize that the fear of whites and the attendant inferiority complex were direct products of the colonized mind. [JSTOR]
Elleke Boehmer: Nelson Mandela
The Black Elite's Curriculum:
The chapter will end by considering [Mandela's] growing susceptibility to arguments in favor of active or armed resistance, as eloquently articulated in 1950s Africa by Martinique-born, Algeria based anticolonialist Frantz Fanon -- as well as by revolutionary elements within the SACP. …
[..] To guide his organisation in making its difficult decision Mandela read widely in the literature on war and revolution available to him, including Mao Tse-tung, Louis Taruc, and Clausewitz. Yet in the various biographical accounts of this time there is one glaring omission from the reading list: the name of the Paris-trained Martiniquan Frantz Fanon, easily the most important post-1950 theorist of anti-colonial violence, who had already drawn wide attention in francophone Africa.
For the ANC, the Algerian freedom struggle against the local white settler regime had for some time been perceived to exhibit strong parallels with South Africa's. On Mandela's African travels he came into contact with Front de Liberation Nationale officials who had fought for the independence of Algeria, recently won, for whose left-wing Fanon had served as an angry spokesperson. At Oujda in Morocco, an Algerian military base close to the border, he heard Ahmed Ben Bella the guerrilla leader, soon to be first President of an independent Algeria, rally his troops and call for the fight against imperialism to be extended across Africa.
In this context, though Mandela never mentions Fanon by name, it is difficult to believe that he did not feel in some capacity the transformative force of his ideas. ... Fanon's approach to the overthrow of imperial power, based on his time working as a psychiatrist in revolutionary Algeria, was bracingly combative: the colonized, he believed, should resist the coloniser to the death, with violence; their entire sensibility should be focused on this rejection.... There is no doubt that, some ten years on from the ANC's move to arms, Steve Biko's BCM, with its outright rejection of white values, demonstrated a clear debt to Fanon's fiercely nationalist and anti-colonial manifesto The Wretched of the Earth (1961).
[..] In his first international speech, A Land Ruled by the Gun, given at the January 1962 PAFMECA (later OAU) conference in Addis Ababa, Mandela sought to justify the ANC's controversial turn to violence, its "sharpening" of its "less effective" political weapons. Like Fanon in his polemical address in support of anti-colonial violence given to the 1958 All-Africa People's Conference, Mandela gives a careful exposition of the stages of increasing violence the African majority has suffered. As part of this exposition he suggests, as famously does Fanon, that the colonized system's pervasive "atmosphere of violence" is the creation of the colonizer alone, and that in this situation the colonized has no choice but to reject the system absolutely. Any compromise or attempt to come to terms will simply reinforce oppression: "only violence pays." Mandela's summary of South Africa's anti-imperialist struggle builds gradually toward a short, uncompromising paragraph encapsulating the injunction that "hard and swift blows" need now to be delivered.
Strategically framed as a response as a response to Mark Antony-- like rhetorical question concerning what role freedom movements should take against the state's "multiple onslaughts" -- "Can anyone, therefore, doubt the role that the freedom movements should play in view of this hideous conspiracy?" -- Mandela's charged language is at this point distinctly reminiscent of Fanon. Fanon's own 1958 conference speech, given as a riposte to Kwame Nkrumah's influential advocacy of Positive Action stopping short of violence, had been unequivocal in making its central point: the natives violence was not merely necessary but self-transforming. (The speech, which cited Sharpeville as a reminder of colonialism's overkill, was developed into the chapter "Concerning Violence" that forms the core of The Wretched of the Earth).
Published in French, a language Mandela could not read, The Wretched of the Earth did not appear in English translation till 1965, by which time he was already in prison. Yet, as these parallels suggest, it seems likely that he would on more than one occasion on his African tour, most probably in Addis Ababa as well as Morocco, have been exposed to Fanon's ideas, even if at several removes. He explicitly refers both to the 1958 Conference and to Nkrumah's defensive 1960 Positive Action conference in A Land Ruled by the Gun: he would have known about the debates that had taken place at both venues. In this context it seems fitting that MK with Mandela at its head was established in 1961, the year of The Wretched of the Earth. [G.Books]
Mandela Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech Reference to Wretched of the Earth
Was Nelson Mandela's reference to Fanon / Wretched of the Earth in his Nobel Peace Prize Speech an acknowledgement that he had liberated his African colonized Mind on the Rotting Corpses of the Settlers?
"Moved by that appeal and inspired by the eminence you have thrust upon us, we undertake that we too will do what we can to contribute to the renewal of our world so that none should, in future, be described as the "wretched of the earth"." - Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 10 December 1993
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