Mindscapes of Politics in Africa: Twixt Remembering and Forgetting
This chapter argues that the rhetoric of premature "confession," "forgetting," and "forgiving" is a politically and socially attractive strategy rooted in the pragmatism of collective survival, it often precludes the communal catharsis essential for preventing future impunity in the sociopolitical arena. It suggests that an increasing number of African societies will discover that liberal democracy may prove insufficient in itself for answering the moral debate aroused by the memories of marginalized groups. Maurice Halbwachs's controversial differentiation between memory and history is instructive in examining African politics: history, he argues, "is an externalized, universalistic and objectified process of preserving the past in a cognitively accountable manner. The configuring of collective memories as collective power is evident in the sustained political resistance within the nationalist, "pro-democracy," and minority rights movements across the African continent. External and internal consensus on the value of dormant memory or amnesia rapidly emerges even among the more altruistic proponents of reconstruction, development, and transitional democracy.