Dismantling Eurocentric discourses: Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth

In The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon states that culture has a crucial role in the formation of African nations. For him, the real goal of creative writing should be a revolutionaryFanon one; forged within the people and for the people. For this reason, African writers often get frustrated when they realize that European tools may not be able to rewrite history, dismantle colonial powers, or create new realities. As he argues, writers should be aware that they often use “techniques and language which are borrowed from the stranger.” (Fanon, 180)

It is worth noting that writers from former European colonies often need to recreate colonial languages and epistemologies. In that sense, they need to avoid Eurocentric epistemology based on the ways of thinking and conceptualizing that are always based on old paradigms, such as inferiority/superiority, man/woman, black/white. By refusing to mimic colonizer’s discourses that often turn the Other’s culture into a mere simulacrum of the metropolitan one, artists are able to free their imagination from the colonial chains that may attach them to European authority.

Chinua achebe things fall Apart

Thus, writers had to find strategies to bring African culture and ways of thinking into their creative practice, mostly through oral stories, proverbs, and African philosophy. For instance, Chinua Achebe, in his well-known work Things Fall Apart, (1957) not only appropriated the colonizer’s language through the use of Pidgin English but also included proverbs and orality in his writing. As Fanon emphasizes in the essay “On National Culture,”  the decolonization of culture is twofold: On one side, the writer has to appropriate European languages, and on the other, she has to challenge ideas embedded in Eurocentric discourses. For Fanon, the only way to produce a national culture is to learn from people, living with people, and feeling their anxieties.

 

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