Nana Frantz Fanon (July 20, 1925 – December 6, 1961), a noble progenitor and teacher of the righteous, radical and transformative word, believed in Africa’s ability to repair, uplift and renew, and in the will of the African people to unite and free themselves, create a new world, woman and man, and begin a new history of Africa and humanity.
At the outset, he presents a deep-seated, far-reaching, revolutionary practice and struggle that will create or “launch” a new African man, freed from internal and external constraints and committed to reaching the fullness of himself.
Indeed, Nana Fanon’s proposal to usher in a new African man, which is neither a concept nor a reflection of Europe or its progeny, finds its ultimate and inevitable solution at the subjective and objective level, i.e. in the hearts and minds of our people, and in what we do in our daily lives.
This mutually reinforcing practice and project that he, Haji Sekou Toure, Haji Malcolm X, and Nana Amilcar Cabral taught and that We of Us have been championing since the 1960s is no clearer than the process of the Cultural Revolution. Because the Cultural Revolution, as everyone taught, is a broad, deep and comprehensive social process that leads not only to the transformation of society, but also simultaneously to the transformation of the people involved.
As Nana Fanon points out, the liberation of the individual does not come after social liberation, but is an integral part of the process. Indeed, “Authentic national liberation exists only to the exact extent that the individual has irreversibly begun his own liberation.” In this way, stepping on the feet of a new African man is a liberating impulse that begins with the battle that everyone is waging to break the hold that the oppressor has on their minds and on the minds of the masses, and reaches fulfillment in each of us , who takes control of our destiny and everyday life and together we build the good world we want and deserve.
As I read Fanon, the cultural revolution is about bringing together our claims and our behavior, personal and political, and ensuring that the struggle to transform society includes the struggle to transform people themselves.
It also seeks to ensure that the end of our social oppression is not delayed or denied by unconfronted and unchecked psychological oppression and deformity, ie. views and values in direct conflict with the aspirations for liberation and a higher level of human life that we claim to want. Or as Fanon puts it: “It is a very concrete question of knowing whether we will free ourselves without consequence from an alienation which for centuries has made us the great absentees of Universal History.”
Thus, in order to return to our own history, to speak our own special cultural truth, and to make our own unique contribution to the forward flow of human history, we must free our hearts and minds from the enslaving views and values, those that that make us embrace and cherish our chains instead of breaking and destroying them.
For Fanon, as for Touré and Cabral, culture is both the source and support of the struggle for liberation. And equally, the struggle gives extra life to the culture, pushes it to the limits of its possibilities, and shapes it in the image and interest of the decolonized, self-consciously liberated individual.
Furthermore, culture is presented by Fanon as a source of both domination and liberation, depending on people’s ability to resist external imposition or their submission to the tendency to become mascots and singers with high pay and low self-respect , as well as political collaborators and criminals who bend and bow in the most unimaginably immoral ways.
Noting the psychological violence inflicted on oppressed people, Fanon stated that colonial rule disrupted “in a spectacular way the cultural life of the conquered people.” Indeed, “every effort is made to make the colonized person recognize the inferiority of his culture.” Moreover, “not content merely to hold a people in its grip and empty the brains,” colonialism turns to the past of the oppressed people and “distorts, disfigures, and destroys” it.
At this point, culture has two options – it mummifies under oppression and becomes “automatic habits”, “instinctive behavior patterns” and self-deprecating forms taught by the dominant society, or people can use their culture to inspire and support the struggle and gain a new and expanded life of meaning through it.
The possibility of struggle is always there because the very context and practice of oppression provokes resistance. And in the midst of the liberation struggle, a new resistance art, literature and music arose to redefine and strengthen the oppressed, to call them to arms, as it was among us in the 1960s. If we listen aright, he urges people, says Fanon, “to awaken (their) sensibilities and make unreal and unacceptable the contemplative attitude or the acceptance of defeat.”
Fanon argues, as Cabral and Touré also argue, that this occurs “long before the political or militant phase of the national movement” and helps to give rise to it. Cultural resistance thus precedes and makes political resistance possible, as Us has maintained since the sixties.
But at the same time, Fanon argues, struggle transforms culture, freeing it from old values and giving it a new dynamic. “It is,” he declares, “the struggle for national existence that moves culture and opens to it the doors of creativity.” Indeed, “the very struggle in its development and its internal progress bends culture in different ways and outlines for it entirely new ones.”
The struggle necessarily transforms the culture of the people. Because the struggle must ensure that “After the conflict, there is not only the disappearance of colonialism, but also the disappearance of the colonized person”, not only the disappearance of enslavement, but also the disappearance of the enslaved person.
Finally, Nana Fanon again challenges us “not to pay homage to Europe by creating states, institutions and societies that draw their inspiration from it”. Indeed, “Let us resolve not to imitate Europe,” he exhorts us; “Let’s combine our brawn and brains in a new direction.
Let us try to create the whole human being which Europe was unable to bring to triumphant birth. Europe had the chance to unite the world, but instead chose to divide, colonize, enslave and exploit it, and left a trail of destruction on a global scale.
In this way, he tells us, “it is about the Third World (people of color) beginning a new history of humanity,” beyond imitations and artificiality. We need to re-examine the whole ‘humanity question’ and new ways of relating as human beings. Because, according to his understanding, “Humanity expects from us something other than such an imitation, which would be almost an obscene caricature.”
In fact, the need, he says, is not to “turn Africa into Europe” or Africans into Europeans. Rather, the need is to reach within ourselves, imagine a new world and way of being African and human in that world, and dedicate our lives to creating that and leave it as a basis for improving life, to that come after us can stand and step boldly into a new history of Africa and humanity.
Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor and Chair of African Studies, California State University-Long Beach; Executive Director, African American Cultural Center (USA); Creator of Kwanzaa; and author of Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture and Struggle Essays: Position and Analysis, www.AfricanAmericanCulturalCenter-LA.org; www.OfficialKwanzaaWebsite.org; www.MaulanaKarenga.org.
Keeping Faith with Nana Fanon, Reaffirming the Cultural Revolution – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link Keeping Faith with Nana Fanon, Reaffirming the Cultural Revolution – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel