Frantz Fanon’s Philosophy of Violence and the Participation of Intellectuals in the Advancement of Social Liberation in Africa

By Eyo, Emmanuel B.; Essien, Amambo Edung | The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online), May 2017 | Go to article overview

Frantz Fanon’s Philosophy of Violence and the Participation of Intellectuals in the Advancement of Social Liberation in Africa


Eyo, Emmanuel B., Essien, Amambo Edung, The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)


Introduction

Frantz Fanon, a Martinique born supporter of Algerian resistance and social liberation advocate whose profession was in the field of psychiatry, is well- known for his efforts to enunciate an emancipation philosophy to address the problem of deprivation of the African masses. This type of philosophy was constructed based on his personal experiences of oppression, exploitation and discrimination of the Blacks faced at the instance of the Europeans. His experiences further gave him a conviction that there was need for a coordinated, consistent and obvious method of overthrowing the oppressors. He was very unpretentious in his attitude to the white oppressors, which resulted in his advocacy for the use of violence in dismantling the structures of oppression constructed by the white oppressors. His philosophy is emancipative, liberative, and restorative. Fanon (1965) in his book The Wretched of the Earth insisted that "violence alone, violence committed by the people, violence organized and educated by its leaders, makes it possible for the masses to understand social truths and gives the key to them" (p.188).

The struggle against oppression was the central thesis of Fanon's philosophy of violence, which is a dehumanized treatment prevalent in present African society, where inequality and injustices are systemic, where laws are enacted to serve the interest of the few. These observed anomalies are some of the causes of various violent groups across Africa. Revolutionary groups and militia groups from North through West through East to South Africa employ violence as the only means of revolutionary attainment of social freedom, liberation, and emancipation. Across Africa there are revolutionary groups namely El-shabab, Muslim Brotherhood, Boko Haram, Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Niger Delta militants, Bakassi Freedom Fighters, to mention but a few. Our cognition reveals that Fanon, having observed the persistent oppression and deprivation of the colonized, instructively proposed a violent revolt which would noticeably dismantle this structure of oppression. But he advised that the process of emancipation, though violence-oriented, must be guided and directed by the leaders of the colonized. He aptly insisted that it must be organized and educated by the leaders of the colonized. The major import of this was to ensure that the masses understand social truths and their situations thereby requiring coordination and articulated.

Flowing from this, and in connection to the violent revolution, groups emerged with the purpose of throwing up the revolutionary issues of social injustices and ineptitude of the political leaders (the oppressors), namely unequal, unbalanced, one-sided, unstable and unsustainable distribution of national resources. Most importantly, the study deduces that, the revolution should be properly led and actualized by the intelligentsia, to ensure its success, so that the common agitators will not hit wrong target and blindly destroy what has been properly established.

Pertinently Kukah observes that oppressors have created a general frustration in citizens thereby leading to violence. Accordingly he posits that, anyone who stands up against the state today in Nigeria, and other nation states in Africa, whether by way of sermon, an editorial opinion or street protest, will not be doing anything new or considered subversive (Kukah, 2016, p.10). Further, he argues that the evil effect of bad governance, corruption, total lack of security and welfare has become part of our daily lives. In responding to the plight of the northern Nigerians, specifically, he laments that there exists in the northern Nigeria today;

an elite that takes pride in seeing fellow citizens live in abject poverty and squalor, an elite that is happy to be the only educated and enlightened ones in their villages and neighbourhoods, elite that pride itself of being the richest in their communities while the majority cannot afford to feed their families, our governors have turned their States into fiefdoms. …

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