There is a huge re-emergence of Frantz Fanon’s ideas and an equally huge interest in his work in post-apartheid South Africa, both in the academy and social movement and organizations. Contrary to some commentators, particularly his biographers, this article aims to locate Fanon within the South African struggle for liberation. It is argued here that Fanon, throughout his life, as evidenced by his writings, was highly concerned about apartheid just as he was about French Algerian colonialism. For him, the paper claims, apartheid was synonymous with colonialism and therefore his critique of colonialism was just as much a critique of apartheid. The resurgence of his name and ideas in the country is a consequence of this critique.
Frantz Fanon: Two quotes on political education
(1) The political education of the masses proposes not to treat the masses as children but to make adults of them.
(2) We often believe with criminal superficiality that to educate the masses politically is to deliver a long political speech from time to time. We think that it is enough that the leader or one of his lieutenants should speak in a pompous tone about the principle events of the day for them to have fulfilled this bounden duty to educate the masses politically. Now, political education means opening their minds, awakening them, and allowing the birth of their intelligence … it is ‘to invent souls’. To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too, that there is no such thing as a hero that will save them with his magic hands, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, but that the hero is the people themselves and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people.
Nigel Gibson & Kathy Oberdeck
In this edition we are sharing recent work from Nigel Gibson, another leading thinker that we’ve had the pleasure of hosting at CLP – many of you will remember Nigel as a key figure in CLP’s “Fanomenal Event” a couple years back. He presented “Finding Fanon, Looking for second liberations” (2013) at the Algiers conference on “Fanon and Africa” in June this year. When we commented to Nigel that what he has to say here is terribly important and that it really resonated with our own thinking and politics at CLP, he remarked that there was “not much resonance for the talk at the conference”, and that a persistent reaction was couched in the contemptuous, sometimes-marxist, notion of the lumpen-proletariat! That’s more than a little ironic since the talk itself begins with an account of Nigel’s experiences of this line of attack at a middle-class bookstore in Durban a couple of years ago:
“I was invited to speak about my book Fanonian Practices in South Africa, from Steve Biko to Abahlali baseMjondolo in a bookshop in Durban. Abahlali baseMjondolo … is a consciously ground-up, reflective, and radically inclusive democratic movement based on a shared experience of space. Someone in the audience asked whether I had spoken about Fanon in the shack settlements. The question was meant as a provocation, implying that the book was an intellectual exercise which had no resonance to shack dwellers who are stereotypically criminal, were uneducated and reactionary. In fact, on my arrival in Durban, I had been invited to talk about the book with Abahlali members in shack settlements and at an Abahlali meeting in Durban, where I was warned of the attacks I would face from the authoritarian left for my support of the movement. Clearly this organization of shack dwellers recognized the importance of its own reasoning and at the same time took seriously the discussion of liberatory ideas. Before I could answer the comments at the bookshop, somebody else pointed out that Fanon didn’t need to be brought to the shack settlements. He was already found there.” Read on…
Finally our sincere thanks to Kathryn Oberdeck from the University of Illinois for a fantastic Padkos conversation about religion and popular radical politics earlier this week at CLP. For those who weren’t able to be there (and, indeed, no less for the rest of us who were), we’re also sharing the text of Kathy’s input in this serving of Padkos. As you’ll see, Kathy drew on material from her earlier book, The Evangelist and the Impresario: Religion, Entertainment, and Cultural Politics in America, 1884-1914 and was kind enough to leave a copy of the book with us at the CLP resource centre – feel free to access it there.
Was ist me dem versprochenen land passiert? Post-apartheid Sud Afrika aus der Perspektive Frantz Fanons