by Chan, Stephen | Africa
Published 30/09/2021 by C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd in the United Kingdom
Paperback | 240 pages
African liberation is often seen in terms of heroism, but seldom in terms of thought. Even Sartre, in his preface to Frantz Fanon’s seminal The Wretched of the Earth, wrote of the ‘native’ with his coiled muscles about to explode into rebellion. The African and the black person are denied the condition of philosophy, apparently driven only by frustration and anger.
Stephen Chan’s new book charts the long history of African political thought, from the years of North American slavery, through the development of modern African nationalism and the difficulties of governing new states, to Africa’s political philosophy today, taking on the world as an equal. He dwells at length on major figures from Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah’s postcolonial generation to Biko, Mandela and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He shows their leadership to be inseparable from their ideas, and from those of literary giants including Fanon, W.E.B.
Du Bois and Ngugi wa Thiong’o. This is no hagiography: Chan critically examines his thinkers, who also include Mugabe and Mobutu, and expresses concern for the future of Pan-Africanism. But his fascinating account reveals a thoughtful continent that has made complex, significant contributions to the world’s intellectual commons-yet continues to seek freedom.