ABSTRACT

The national question in Africa became a contested site of diverse intellectual currents if not pedagogical nationalisms partly because colonialists worked tirelessly to suppress the coalescence of the colonized people into broader national identities and partly due to the fact that freedom from colonialism became understood in terms of attainment of national sovereignty. Colonialists insisted that Africans were ‘tribal’ subjects rather than ‘national’ citizens. At the same time, it was colonialism that introduced the idea of modern nation-state as social organization of human life where there was a tight correspondence between the ‘nation’ and the ‘state’ albeit with modifications in the service of the colonial project. As a European phenomenon, the modern nation-state was born out of conflict and violence. No wonder the notion assumed a concrete form at Westphalia in 1648 after the Thirty Years War. It formed part of what Frantz Fanon (1968: 252) depicted as ‘the technique and style of Europe’ that produced a catalogue of ‘negations’ of the human and actual physical annihilation of all those whose identity did not easily fit into the drawn boundaries and imagined political communities. Fanon elaborated:

When I search for Man in the technique and style of Europe, I see only succession of negations of man and an avalanche of murders. The human condition, plans for mankind and collaboration between men in those tasks which increase the sum total of humanity are now problems, which demand true inventions. Let us decide not to imitate Europe; let us combine our muscles and our brains in a new direction. Let us try to create the whole man, whom Europe has been incapable of bringing to triumphant birth. Two centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe. It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness and inhumanity of Europe have 198grown to appalling dimensions. Comrades, have we not other work to do than to create a third Europe?

(Fanon 1968: 252)