How the revolutionary thought of two West Indian intellectuals predicts and explains post-independence African problems
University of Missouri-Columbia. Office of Undergraduate Research
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Though most of Africa gained independence from European colonial rule by 1960, today the continent is still plagued by poverty, ignorance, corruption, internal conflict, and external control. These results are now clear to everyone but there were a few black individuals even at the time of decolonization who foresaw the situation that would result if decolonization were not carried out carefully and properly. My paper focuses on two West Indian intellectuals, C.L.R. James and Frantz Fanon. C.L.R James' book Black Jacobins, though written during the 1930s, addresses the colonial problem and calls for revolution in the form of a mass-organized revolt and an awareness of each nation's identity as distinct from that of the colonial aggressor. I will explain the way in which James recognizes the physical and cultural oppression of the peoples of underdeveloped countries, the dual-world of those well-educated by the mother country, and the problems resulting from the probable inability or aversion of black political and intellectual leaders to recognize the necessity of a complete break from the colonial ruler and the oppressive imperialist capitalism it represents. Frantz Fanon, in Black Skins, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth, approaches the problem of decolonization as a psychiatrist. He understands the psychological oppression of third-world peoples as a diametrically opposed slave-master relationship found between settlers and natives and within the native himself. Fanon prescribes a violent revolution as the only action that will provoke a response of change in the colonial country and the only way to rid the native of his inferiority complex; only after a violent revolution will the native be free to reclaim his history and culture and begin a new society in which each man is respected for who he is.
2005 Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievements Forum (MU)