17 September 2010

Frantz Fanon

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 3a`

Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon, 1925 - 1961

The extraordinary co-incidence of dates between Frantz Fanon and Patrice Lumumba, both born in 1925 and both deceased in 1961, highlights the precociousness of Fanon’s critique of the post-colonial regimes which had so recently, from his standpoint, come into existence. Please download the essay “Pitfalls of National Consciousness” via the link given below.

This essay was published in the book “The Wretched of the Earth’ in French in 1961 and in English translation in 1963. The title of the book is a direct quotation from the song, the “Internationale”, written by Eugene Pottier during the Paris Commune of 1871, the lyrics of which in the original French begin: “Debout, Les Damnés de la Terre!”. Les Damnés de la Terre was the title of Fanon’s book and it is translated as “The Wretched of the Earth”.

Fanon is so intelligent and so witty that it is easy to be so charmed by him that critical faculties are put aside. So much of what he wrote nearly fifty years ago has come to pass not once, but repeatedly, and not in one, but in many countries, that one has to be astonished.

It is also remarkable that no other writer on this topic has come close to the range and the brilliance that Fanon exhibits with such apparent ease in this essay. To find literary comparisons one has to go far back, to the likes of Voltaire and Jonathan Swift.

Fanon is particularly brilliant here in his denunciation of the national bourgeoisie in the circumstances of the newly independent country.

Is Fanon right? In South Africa, we certainly have problems of “tenderpreneurs”, “narrow BEE”, corruption and many other manifestations of the premature degeneration of the bourgeoisie, similar to Fanon’s descriptions.

But we in South Africa also have a firm theory and practice of National Democratic Revolution involving Unity in Action between classes, especially between the working class and the national bourgeoisie. We have found this class alliance to be indispensible.

This document is a great classic and is typical of the best of African Revolutionary Writing. But it is not a Bible.

Please download and read the entire text via this link:

Further reading:


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