by Nigel Gibson, Public Lecture hosted by the Paulo Freire Project, School of Education and Development, University of KwaZulu Natal and the Church Land Programme, Pietermaritzburg, May 30, 2011
What better way to celebrate, commemorate, critically reflect on, and think through Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth fifty years after its publication than with a new North African syndrome: Revolution - or at least a series of revolts that continue to rock the region. Fanon begins The Wretched writing of decolonization as a program of complete disorder, an overturning of order - often against the odds - willed collectively from the bottom up. Without time or space for a transition, there is instead an absolute replacement of one “species” of humanity by another (1968:35).
In periods of revolution and counter-revolution such absolutes appear quite normal. Indeed, radical change becomes the “new normal” and the idea that revolutionary change is impossible is simply the rantings and ravings of the conservatives and reactionaries of the ancient regime. In spite of everything, ideas flow across frontiers and borders and people begin again “to make history” (1968 69-71). The Egyptian revolution is dated January 25th, 2011, but its prehistory includes years of labor struggle, demonstrations and revolts.
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