Methodology of Colonization: Selection from Frantz Fanon's (the Wretched of the Earth) & Nelson Mandela's (Long Walk to Freedom)

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Nicholas Powell
History 380
Spring Midterm 2013
Dr. Carolyn Johnston
Methodology of Colonization
Violence
In Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched Of The Earth he claims “Violence can thus be understood to be the perfect mediation. The colonized man liberates himself in and through violence. The praxis enlightens the militant because it shows him the means and the end.” (Bhabha, xl) I agree with Fanon in this statement, rarely are revolutions nonviolent, and the decolonization of a nation is nothing more than a revolt towards the colonizer. I believe violence can illustrate the seriousness of a movement that may otherwise be seen as illegitimate. Fanon goes on to say that “decolonization is always a violent event. At whatever level we study it – individual encounters, a change of name for a sports club the guest list at a cocktail party, members of a police force or the board of directors of a state or private bank – decolonization is quite simply the substitution of one “species” of mankind by another.” (Fanon, 1)

We see that colonization is violent throughout Africa, in Kenya with the Mau Mau, the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) in Namibia, and in South Africa. In Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, he describes himself as a supporter of peace; however those qualities can be confused or misunderstood as Nelson being a pacifist. We know he is not a pacifist from his opinion on the topic of violence, “A freedom fighter learns the hard way that the oppressor who defines the nature of the struggle, and the oppressed is often left no recourse but to use methods that mirror those of the oppressor. At a certain point, one can only fight fire with fire.” If we try and truly understand what he means by that statement, as well as consider his generally peaceful nature, it becomes apparent that Mandela only supported violent behavior where it had practical purpose. Being a lover of Marx, Mandela favored destruction of bourgeois property opposed to harming human beings.

Since we understand colonization as violent, we can illustrate the process of decolonization simply with Newton’s Third Law, (if that’s even possible, but run with me on this.) Since the colonizing force used violence to oppress the colonized, an equal force of violence must be used to propel a nation out of occupation by the foreign power. We see this in the film The Battle of Algiers with the National Liberation Front’s (FLN), organized and brutal insurgency. First the violence is directed towards police officers in the streets of Algiers, I believe they chose to target law enforcement because of the strong symbolism it holds concerning the opposition of authority. Quickly the violence escalates into full-blown riots between the general population and the French military. Casualties on both sides begin to pile up do to the increase in attacks and the level of their brutality, even towards innocent individuals, including women and children.

Though the struggle is illustrated vividly in the film we see these actions in multiple conflicts throughout Africa. From the killing of innocent children during the National Emergency in Kenya by the Mau Mau, to SWAPO guerrilla tactics against the South African military and serious human rights abuses against suspected spies during Namibia’s struggle for independence. The ultimate goal of the colonized is to have their nation for themselves again; “To destroy the colonial world means nothing less than demolishing the colonist’s sector, burying it deep within the earth or banishing it from the territory.” (Fanon, 6)

Fanon goes on to address the roles of the two bodies in the colonial system and the transitional efforts made by the colonized, this transition begins once dehumanization by the colonizer begins, “Decolonization is the encounter between two congenitally antagonistic forces that in fact owe their singularity to the kind of reification secreted and nurtured by the colonial...
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