The Populist Dimension to African Political Thought: Critical Essays in Reconstruction and Retrieval

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9781592211005: The Populist Dimension to African Political Thought: Critical Essays in Reconstruction and Retrieval

Franz Fanon, Amílcar Cabral and Julius Nyerere were three of Africa’s most influential activist-practioners of anti-colonialism and socialism. This book explores the populist elements in their thought and practice, which despite the different circumstances each faced, is crucial in understanding why each aspired to establish populist socialisms. Idahosa discusses some of the most influential, as well as recent, perspectives on populism, and he identifies the uses to which populism has been put in Africa. He also addresses populism’s relationship to forms of political and cultural nationalism such as Negritude. He singles out the distinctive populism of Fanon, Cabral and Nyerere in their views of an anti-capitalist commitment that attempts to diminish class inequalities and establish egalitarian societies based upon rural, peasant-based institutions that could avoid capitalist development. This book re-examines their ideas and their practices in light of this form of populism. Idahosa places Fanon, Cabral, and Nyerere’s ideas and practices within the context of each of their understandings of the autocratic experience of paternalist colonialism, and their belief in creating alternative forms of organizing politics, production, and culture consonant with the needs of the bulk of colonial subjects, most of whom were rural producers. Fanon’s ideas developed within the crucible of the Algerian war of national liberation, and matured with his foresight about the need to avoid the limited, self-serving vision of national development articulated and practiced by the majority of Africa’s nationalist and post-colonial elites. Cabral’s theory and practice developed out of the experience of inheriting the relative material and class backwardness of an obstinate Portuguese colonialism. He saw no alternative for national development and socialism than to invest some faith in the African petty bourgeoisie, while urging them to commit class suicide if national development was to succeed. Nyerere’s ideas and practices evolved from the struggle to realize a peaceful road to Tanganyikan independence to the espousal of modernizing indigenous values and practices of ujamaa socialism under the stewardship of one-party rule in Tanzania.

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About the Author:

P. L. E. Idahosa is an associate professor and member of the Division of Social Science at York University, Canada, where he directs the African Studies Program and teaches development studies and African popular culture. He is also an associate member of the Centre for Refugee Studies.

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