riting the Struggle – Europe and the negation of Man
“. . . if we want humanity to advance a step farther, if we want to bring it up to a different level than that which Europe has shown it, then we must invent and we must make discoveries. If we wish to live up to our peoples’ expectations, we must seek the response elsewhere than in Europe . . .” – Frantz Fanon 1961
Africa wastes time and resources trying to get back at the former colonial masters.
Every African leader who messes up finds scapegoats in either the French or the British while doing nothing about rectifying the wrongs done for the betterment of their countries.
This is sad considering that some of the leaders that complain have been in power for decades without reversing the injustices the erstwhile colonisers did.
In most cases, the struggle today should not be about Europe or the British but about undoing the wrongs done; reversing the disadvantages; levelling the playing field; and making their people happy.
For example, after 20 years of independence, can South Africa still blame apartheid for the poor living standards of its people?
Can Namibia still blame apartheid too for the social ills bedevilling her? Can Zimbabwe stand up and point a finger at Ian Douglas Smith for whatever injustice that exists?
The point is most African leaders are still competing with Europe. So much indecisiveness among our leaders has taken Africa back to the dark past.
Frantz Fanon urges for an end to this attitude in the conclusion of his book “The Wretched of the Earth”.
He says, “Come, then, comrades; it would be as well to decide at once to change our ways. We must shake off the heavy darkness in which we were plunged, and leave it behind. The new day which is already at hand must find us firm, prudent and resolute.”
He further says African leaders must “leave our dreams and abandon our old beliefs and friendships of the time before life began”.
“Let us waste no time in sterile litanies and nauseating mimicry. Leave this Europe where they are never done talking of Man, yet murder men everywhere they find them, at the corner of every one of their own streets, in all the corners of the globe,” he writes.
According to Fanon, Europe was very successful in whatever she set out to do and now it is time for Africa to chart a new journey far away from the destructive ways started by Europe.
There is nothing, Fanon says, to emulate and copy from Europe which is “today swaying between atomic and spiritual disintegration” because “Europe now lives at such a mad, reckless pace that she has shaken off all guidance and all reason, and she is running headlong into the abyss; we would do well to avoid it with all possible speed”.
He declares: “. . . the European game has finally ended; we must find something different. We today can do everything, so long as we do not imitate Europe, so long as we are not obsessed by the desire to catch up with Europe”.
Although Fanon penned this more than 50 years ago, what is happening in central and North Africa where the French are still very active proves his point right.
It was the French who moved into Cote d’Ivoire; they went to Mali and recently they were there in the Central African Republic, where ‑ unlike in Mali and Cote d’Ivoire ‑ they did not raise a finger to defend Francois Bozize against the marauding rebels that have since taken over control of the country.
In most cases, some opposition parties have sought help from the erstwhile colonisers as if asking their jailer to put them behind bars again.
Fanon was right when he said the “the shadow of her palaces stretches out ever farther! Every one of her movements has burst the bounds of space and thought”.
“So, my brothers, how is it that we do not understand that we have better things to do than to follow that same Europe?
“That same Europe where they were never done talking of Man, and where they never stopped proclaiming that they were only anxious for the welfare of Man – today we know with what sufferings humanity has paid for every one of their triumphs of the mind,” he suggests.
Fanon encourages that Africa should not see any good in Europe as a model of success or as a blueprint because “European achievements, European techniques and the European style ought no longer to tempt us and to throw us off our balance.
“The West saw itself as a spiritual adventure. It is in the name of the spirit, in the name of the spirit of Europe, that Europe has made her encroachments, that she has justified her crimes and legitimised the slavery in which she holds four-fifths of humanity,” he further wrote. (to be continued)