Abstract Today Africa and the world have forgotten Negritude. The fault lies partly with Negritude, partly with those quick to pigeonhole the whole of Léopold Sédar Senghor’s philosophy as mere Negritude. To preserve the living sparks of Senghor’s thought apart from ideologically defunct Negritude, it is necessary to distinguish two doctrines, namely, official Negritude or cultural nationalism, and Senghorism, here defined as a discourse of Africa’s full embrace of modernity. Post‐Africanism, a new concept, has been deployed to re‐actualise Senghorism as a technique vital to Africa’s active modernisation. After all the self‐serving conspiracy theories of Africa’s fate in global modernity have been refuted, Post‐Africanism emerges to chart a new course for an African renaissance.
Abstract The growing body of literature authored by women in Africa and the African Diaspora over the past four decades has been accompanied by vigorous debates out of which has evolved a body of theories pertaining to African Feminism(s). Theoretical models such as ‘Third World Feminism’, ‘African Feminism’, ‘Womanism’, ‘Stiwanism’, ‘Afrikana Womanism’ and ‘Nego‐feminism’, amongst others, have responded to the anomalies exhibited by mainstream feminism, particularly its inability to address the cultural specificities out of which ‘other’ feminisms are theorised. The focus of this article has arisen out of the realisation that while such theories are invaluable to the development of feminist discourse, they have tended to focus predominantly on the politics of naming associated with the term ‘feminism’. The author seeks to problematise the term ‘Africa(n)’ as normatively inscribed in the prevailing discourse. The interrogation of the term Africa(n) is pertinent to the development of a theoretical model that will complement and enhance activist efforts in present‐day Africa and rescue the embattled image of Africa as captured in the epigraph to this article.
Abstract This essay considers the impact of the Cultures de l’Afrique noire et de l’occident: première table ronde (1960) on Senghor’s thinking regarding Euro‐African cultural relations between the late 1940s and the 1960s. As the first formal encounter between black African and white European intellectuals, the Roundtable sought to define the idea of the civilisation of the universal as a common cultural basis upon which to build a shared, globally relevant culture. The Roundtable’s advocacy of the creation of a new universal culture appealed to Senghor, who had already embraced the concept of Eurafricanité – Euro‐African hybridity – on economic and political levels. Yet the discussions in Rome and their aftermath encouraged Senghor, by then a leading statesman, to take a more rigorously Africanist approach to cultural relations between the two continents, and gave him a new perspective from which to contest contemporary African culture’s place within world culture.
Abstract The image of Senegal as an exception to the general absolutist trend of Francophone African politics is largely connected to President Léopold Sédar Senghor. He believed that his synthesis of politics and culture, able to bridge the French, African and Black components of his identity, could also be extended to building his country. In this effort, Senghor applied the ideologies of Negritude and African Socialism to bridge the many social gaps in Senegalese society. This article seeks to move beyond Negritude and African Socialism by considering them as much proper to the Senegalese context as utopian ideologies based on egalitarianism and global cooperation. An analysis of these ideologies, which replaced socioeconomic realities by a broad rubric of ‘African culture’, provides an in‐depth understanding of this initial post‐independence period in African history and of the social divides that shaped it.
Abstract This article explores the circumstances under which Léopold Sédar Senghor, poet‐philosopher and first president of Senegal, developed a theory of racial belonging, situating the black soul within experiences of modernity. This article addresses the distinctiveness of Senghor’s Negritude, focusing attention on the complex, uneasy relationship between often racist European thinking on Africa and the means by which Senghor, as a pan‐Africanist and a modernist, chose to re‐evaluate African ways of being in the world. To many, Senghor’s reliance upon the coloniser’s views made his thought (and the patronage and arts scene that followed) primitivising. Others have read his assertions as part of a necessary historic moment of postcolonial cultural and racial reaffirmation and reclamation.
Abstract Though Negritude is considered a sufficient description of what Senghor did and stood for, evidence abounds that both in his more performative thought and his political practices he had effectively sublated Negritude. Negritude was called upon to do vital preparatory work. The dynamics of Senghor's Realpolitical thought and practice were tied up with the colonial/modernity question at the frontier of decolonisation. While his stance on decolonisation dictated his earlier resolutely anti‐nationalist politics, his passion for Africa and obsession with French culture made him an unconditional Francophile and willing neocolonised moderniser.
Abstract This contribution examines what the significance of the Negritude movement could be today. It argues that there is a form of ‘negritude beyond negritude’, and that to see it as racial essentialism (or racialism) from a bygone colonial time, bound to disappear in our postcolonial and hopefully post‐racial era, is to miss what it has to say today. In the way Senghorian Negritude presented itself as a contribution to twentieth‐century humanism, it still has something to say to the humanism of this early twenty‐first century. What it has to say, beyond the defence and illustration of the values of a certain race, is that in our global world, what Senghor used to call, following Teilhard de Chardin, the ‘civilization of the universal’ is still the task.
Abstract Highly criticised by African film‐makers, most prominently by Ousmane Sembène, the concept of Negritude is now experiencing a renaissance. A reconsideration of Negritude reveals new ways of thinking about African cinema. Negritude and African cinema should be viewed in their particularism, instead of presumed essentialism, and considered in their strategic aspects. African cinema can then be seen no longer as a tributary of occidental cinema but as a strategy beyond acculturation. African cinema is simply a continuation of Negritude ideology but a significant contribution to it.
Abstract Artist Ernest Mancoba has become, for many scholars, representative of the West’s neglect of Africa. Mancoba left his native South Africa for Paris in 1938 and later became a founding member of the European art movement CoBrA. Yet Mancoba’s relationship to CoBrA has been almost entirely erased from history. This article asks why Mancoba has been excluded from art historical texts on CoBrA, and explores three factors that may have resulted in his exclusion. First, this article argues that Mancoba was marginalised by CoBrA, whose founding ideology would have demanded that they view him as a ‘primitive’ Other. Second, it is likely that Mancoba sought to distinguish himself from the group in order to escape the colonial mentality that drove their artistic inspiration. Finally, the celebration of Mancoba as a pre‐eminent ‘South African artist’ has caused his work to be ghettoised, celebrated as uniquely ‘African’ but denied the possibility of being understood in dialogue not with other African art but with European modernists.
Abstract The question of Africa’s authentic voice within modernity can only be resolved within history. History contains both what is imposed upon it – often an ideology – and what confronts and transgresses it in an endeavour to maintain the ability of human imagination to create with total freedom. Although the former continues to prevail as the dominant discourse in Africa, as elsewhere, it is in what has been created by the latter that we find the true significance of Africa’s achievement in modernity. I argue therefore that the historical achievement of Africa in modernity is not of a predetermined nature or contained within or by what is imposed upon it, but is owing to its own consciousness of itself as an emerging liberating force within modernity.
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