Volume 13, 2018
Lived Experience and Fanonian Practices in South Africa
Fanon’s ideas made their way across the Limpopo into apartheid South Africa in the late 1960s with US Black theology intellectuals like James Cone providing an important link between Fanon and the emergent Black Consciousness movement articulated by Steve Biko. Forty years after Biko’s articulation of Black Consciousness as a critique of the bad faith of white liberalism and his warning that a “new” South Africa could mask systematic inequality and dehumanization, a new turning point has arisen in post-apartheid South Africa marked by the terrible massacre of 34 African miners by the South African police. A Fanonian critique of post-apartheid South Africa is important. And yet it is also in the responses to the crises of contemporary South Africa and the liberation party’s social treason that the high point of the struggle that Fanonian practices can be recast. The maturity of our age means that a non-state directed politics based in what Fanon calls “the rationality of revolt,” which begins in the refusal to remain quiet and stay in place, can as be understood not simply voluntaristic but a movement emerging from and in reaction to in lived experience, understood socially. Thus rather than reducing Fanon to the past or a politics of the existential to intellectual self-reflection, perhaps we can take Fanon’s writings as interlocutions in which different historical moments and movements bring out new resonances and explicate new insights.