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Revolution Leaders and Masses in Fanon’s Work

Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth” established himself as a most formidable scholar in various aspects, including colonialism, nationalism, decolonization, black consciousness, language, and identity, among other things (Fanon and Philcox 25). Much of Fanon’s work continue to suffice as instrumental in many faculties such as philosophy, political science, cultural studies, psychology, among other areas. Fanon’s studies gave birth to several works, including Black Skin and the White Mask, in 1952, while the current study was The Wretched of the Earth published in 1961. Fanon’s revolutionary mindset made him a prominent figure and a consistent contributor to the postcolonial pedagogy. His vocal acclaim made him a controversial figure in postcolonialism, notwithstanding his contributions to modern political science. Much of his pedagogy has received various criticisms due to what other scholars refer to as abstract generalization and absolutism (Blackey 195). Much of Fanon’s work explores his experience while the general background explored provokes a spell of bitterness, especially when he talks of colonization and its negativities. Fanon sounds somewhat pessimistic and desperate about what the future holds for the Third World countries, albeit according to him, the situation specifying the period never left much space for optimism.

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Roles during the revolution and establishing independent states and afterward

On the scope of revolution and the establishment of independent states, Fanon explores that leaders and the “masses” were in general agreement, although differing only over minor concerns such as emphasis and detail (Gibson 75). Whereas the leaders were far more explicit, both the leaders and the “masses” sought the revolution to be a weapon of achieving and establishing independence (Blackey 197). For the masses, the revolution was central to generating man and society while seeking self-liberation and the rebirth of freedoms. The leaders, together with the “masses,” agreed that it was only through that process that freedom could be guaranteed to the suppressed populations to undo the power of colonization. Fanon, having been psychiatric, was more interested in the psychological aspects, which the revolution would have on the colonized masses (Gibson 79).

To achieve true and meaningful revolution, Fanon opined that independence is paramount, and the oppressed must demand it at all costs. According to Fanon, liberation comes by virtue of actual struggle that seeks to restore the integrity of humanity as well as the pride of the past, present, and future. In Africa, the years between 1960 and 1980 characterized the rebirth of independent states with other nations surging towards the quest for pluralism in their own right (Cheema 56). The emergence of opposition political parties gave birth to a scenario that affected both the continent’s political life as well as Africa’s politics. As Fessha (85) notes, during the time, several studies attempted to unravel the full mystery behind these developments, and, in the process, existing theories and concepts in political science circles came up to explore this trajectory. These new works led to greater integration into the study of the development of constitutionalism in Africa. In the context of the African fabric of the time, the term constitutionalism seemed to suggest limited governance that guaranteed power-sharing amongst state institutions with limitations under which they functioned (Fessha 65).

In such circumstances, the constitution laid the foundation for checks and balances, which safeguarded the liberties of the people as essential features of a democratic process. However, whenever the African institutions or leaders took the responsibility or mandate to lay the foundation for these checks and balances, most often, they failed miserably. This created instability and escalated conflict that led to the continued misery of the African people. True liberation, as Blackey (199) opines was the duty of the masses and their leaders; the society looked upon the leaders to deliver their people to liberation from the bondage of colonialism. For the oppressed populations, liberation meant nothing other than the total obliteration of the colonial structures. In achieving the true dimensions of liberty, the oppressed masses must put all their energies and resources into play since the struggle for liberation was naturally absolute and demanding in nature.

Political morality and structure that Fanon envisioned for an independent Algeria and African continent

Revolution in most parts of Africa and the greater liberation struggle in Algeria and colonial populations everywhere was a fundamental characteristic of the independence struggle. For many people, such revolutions meant the transformation of life in light of the progress for all humanity, which in actual sense meant national independence. The struggle for independence, according to Cheema (127), sought to eliminate all forms of foreign dominion while making it a duty to carefully select friends and guarding against enemies to champion the decolonization process. Decolonization passed out as a central historic trend that occurred in many phases in Africa from 1960s to 1980s (Beckett 24). If anything, the action shaped the region’s body politics into the present day African States using revolutionary forces. The word decolonization, according to Beckett (45), is the process of dissolving colonial rule, while emphasizing on political and economic freedom that guarantee a people-driven society. After the Second World War, African leadership gained much political potent due to the able-bodied political leaders that sprouted from the nationalism movement in Africa.

In the years following the independence of most African states, a new wave of ideology swept across Africa, prompting Algeria to take up their share in African politics (Nkrumah 64). The Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization (AAPSO) mobilized efforts to interstate liberation movements in Asia and Africa. Organized on the intercontinental frontier, AAPSO consisted of a broad membership from Africa, Europe, and Latin America (Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization (AAPSO) par. 3). In 1960, the United Nations General Assembly issued a policy statement committing the European powers to grant independence involuntarily to their protectorates. The United Nation’s fifteenth session marked a turning point in the leadership of Africa given its resolution to grant independence to a people yearning for freedom. After these developments, the OAU’s African Liberation Committee stepped its mandate to push for the region’s independence from white minority denomination (Nkrumah 65).

The relevance of Fanon’s political theory in our time

Fanon’s enduring legacy as well as the enduring relevance of his political theory lies in the understanding of the ills that continue to challenge humanity to date (Fanon and Philcox 48). Some of the factors include violence, racism, religious fundamentalism, radicalization of the church, the surge of ethnicity, and post-Cold War politics. Virtually violence has plagued several states in Africa since their emergence from colonial rule in the period between 1960 and 1980 (Dahinden 122). Belligerent states such as Angola, Congo, Namibia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and Uganda tried as much to end hostilities amongst all the belligerent nations in the Sub-Sahara Africa during this period. According to Dahinden (132), Congo’s rich natural resources that include timber, copper, diamond, cobalt, uranium, gold, and Colton inspired armed conflict in the region brought by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. In addition, indigenous guerrillas, backed by the mining multinationals got supplies of small arms and light weapons, food, as well as military training in exchange for the smuggled mineral resources (Dahinden 155). During this period, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zimbabwe were in the spotlight for orchestrating arms race in the Central African region with a clear connection to potent political and economic interests that threatened regional peace. In most parts of Africa, the link between the proliferation of small arms and natural resources were so obvious, as there were numerous reports of illegal exploitation as well as trafficking of light weaponry arguably for use in expediting armed conflict.

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The fundamental legacy of the Cold War was its ability to introduce neo-colonialism while consolidating new forms of dependency in Africa. Colonialism had exposed Africa to economic plundering based on the global market that relied on the continent for its cheap labor and low-cost commodities such as coffee (Dahinden 56). When most African nations got independence after the Second World War, they soon found themselves playing on the rivalries between the two warring blocks. Political, economic, as well as military conflicts in the region intensified, and were nothing less than the larger confrontation between the US and the USSR. These warring factions did not hesitate to recruit the young nations in their clandestine contest, which cost the newly independent African nations a great deal. This meant that several African leaders turned to the foreign powers to consolidate their rule and definitely resorted to authoritarian rule.

Most African countries continue to experience the plague of the Cold War to date. For example, in Angola, the Cold War inspired great civil war that raged throughout the 1990s despite OAU and international mediations combined (Appiah and Gates 179). The hostilities fueled by the Cold War did not formally stop until 2002, upon the killing of UNITA guerilla firebrand Jonas Malheiro Savimbi. In Mozambique, great milestones of landmines laid at the height of the Cold War littered the countryside up to late 1990s, consuming lives while maiming the indigenous people (Dahinden 86). In all these developments, the OAU leadership tried within its capacity to assume the primary responsibility for Africa’s political and economic destiny though the leadership often found itself playing in the hands of the two warring blocks. The interference with the OAU housekeeping business made it hard for the OAU to achieve much, making the organ look weak, deprived, and moribund. The Cold war had a greater impact on the African society. At the time, military funding by the foreign powers was on the rise, making it hard for several states to govern themselves amicably.

Liberation struggles in the United States and elsewhere for contemporary examples

American liberation struggle grew on the foundations that presented black consciousness within a broad social, political, and cultural framework. From the pre-colonial America to the contemporary American society, the quest for liberty offers a follow up to the long turbulent pilgrimage of Americans, exploring the opulent culture they have fostered throughout the history of reconstruction over to the pursuit for emancipation upon which African-Americans sought to defeat the bondage of racism and oppression. Fanon and Philcox (75) observe that reconstruction came along with the deepest basest political altercations as the controversies that marked slavery and the Civil War that gave birth to it. All these passed the test of American liberation struggle. Whereas liberalism triumphed, extremists failed, giving way to the contemporary robust democratic society that America has become. During the same year, the Lincoln Administration reconvened the Congress and rescinded racist bylaws. The result led to freeing of secessionists slaves, recruitment of blacks into the military, and the eventful passing of the Thirteenth Amendment, which championed the abrogation of slavery throughout America (Wolf 78).


The colonial experience in Africa was virtually uniform across the continent, although its variant forms led to the differences in the democratization and the process of constitutional making. Decolonization witnessed the move of different colonies and protectorates towards nationhood. Such an inclination invariably led to the implementation of some of the best constitutions during the pre and post-independence periods. These processes prompted some moribund states to resort to authoritarianism as a way of disguising their inadequacies and fragility. In several parts of the continent, the quest for constitutional reforms was at different times, prompted by different situations (Fieldhouse 221). For example, the constitutional making zest in Botswana or Rwanda was much different from that of Kenya, or Nigeria. However, this dissimilarity arose from the several aspects that prevailed in the particular country at a given time to fuel the constitutional making process. These significant societal experiences across Africa led to the different ways in which the democratic patterns as well as the processes of constitution making were shaped. Evidently, these processes emanate from the need to form an all-inclusive government that thrives under just legal systems, the need to form an independent electoral system, as well as the need to put in place a government structure that gives sovereignty to the people.

Works Cited

Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization (AAPSO). 2013. Web.

Appiah, Anthony. Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. New York: Basic Civitas, 1999. Print.

Beckett, Paul. “Algeria vs. Fanon: The Theory of Revolutionary Decolonization, and the Algerian Experience.” The Western Political Quarterly 26.1 (1973): 23-65. Print.

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Blackey, Robert. “Fanon and cabal: a contrast in theories for the revolution of Africa.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 12.2 (1974): 191-209. Print.

Cheema, Shabbir. Engaging Civil Society: Emerging Trends in Democratic Governance. Tokyo: United Nations U, 2010. Print.

Dahinden, Erwin. Small Arms and Light Weapons: Legal Aspects of National and International Regulations : A Contribution to the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and Its Follow-Up Process. New York: United Nations, 2002. Print.

Fanon, Frantz and Richard Philcox. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove, 2004. Print.

Fessha, Yonatan Tesfaye. Ethnic Diversity and Federalism Constitution Making in South Africa and Ethiopia. Surrey: Ashgate, 2010. Print.

Fieldhouse, David Kenneth. Black Africa, 1945-1980: Economic Decolonization & Arrested Development. London: Allen & Unwin, 1986. Print.

Gibson, Nigel. “Relative Opacity: A New Translation of Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth Mission Betrayed or Fulfilled?” Social Identities 13.1 (2007): 69–95. Print.

Nkrumah, Kwame. Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare: A Guide to the Armed Phase of the African Revolution. New York: International, 1969. Print.

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Wolf, Naomi. Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 2008. Print.

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