Broadcast 23 March 2021
The debate about the place of both “tradition” and “modernity” in African cultures has raged on since the 19th century. In emerging from colonialism, should African cultures retreat to the “precolonial”, embrace the “western”, or carve out for themselves something new?
Frantz Fanon proposes the last – but why?
In this lecture and conversation, we dissect the life and work of eminent Martinican psychiatrist and political thinker, Frantz Fanon. Fanon was a key ideological leader of the Algerian resistance during the war of independence from France. A realist, he challenged Africans to attain the necessary consciousness to construct the new sense of self he felt was essential to their success in the post-colonial world.
In this engaging and thought-provoking conversation, we dive into Fanon’s life, unpack his work during the Algerian war, and deconstruct his blueprint for postcolonial African culture[s].
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This is an extract from the transcript of a lecture given on 23 March 2021 online at the African History Project.
I think that every single time I give a lecture I always say that the subject of the lecture is one of my favourite thinkers, but I really do mean it with Frantz Fanon. This lecture is about the life and work of the Martinican political thinker Frantz Fanon. Not only do I love his ideas, but I also like his style of writing. Some say his writing lacks structure, I would argue that perhaps his writing mirrors the chaos he is writing about. I like to think that there was something of the novelist in him and in his disjointedness, he intends to engage in a conversation with the reader, and conversations aren’t always nice and neat.
If he had been a novelist, I think his genre would have been terror because if you really step back and try to decipher what he is talking about, what he is talking about is quite horrifying. He is trying to describe the colonial world. His writing grates at every aspect of reality, causing the reader to question everything about themselves: everything they’ve ever been told, everything they believe, and everything they’ve experienced. His narratives are equal part horror and devastation.
So, welcome to this lecture! I hope that today I am going to horrify you with his position on culture which is very different. He is a Pan-African thinker, a Martinican, a French Antillean, travels to France, gets his medical training, travels to Algeria, becomes part of the revolutionary movement there. So, he is a Pan-African, very much so a Pan-African. But his concepts and ideas about culture are anything but. He has a very different way of looking at it. He criticises some of the earlier thinkers, though he honours them and relies on their thinking, such as the Négritudists Aimé Césaire and others, but he really moves away.
Despite this horror, his ideas are hopeful. That’s why I am so fascinated by him. I hope in today’s conversation to take you on a journey through his mind, to decipher his thoughts on that most elusive of things which we call Black culture, or African culture, or as Fanon referred to it, “Negro-ism”.
Fanon was a revolutionary thinker; he was obsessed with mapping and delegitimising the colonial world. He threw himself into the Algerian struggle for independence from the French in the 1950s and 1960s. But he wasn’t Algerian, he was from the French territory of Martinique in the Caribbean. He was a psychiatrist by training, not a politician or a philosopher but by the end of his short life, dying of leukaemia aged just 36, he had achieved greatness in both of those areas, both as a political thinker and as a philosopher. He was also a diplomat, representing the revolutionary government (sic) forces of Algeria in various international arenas.
He was posted to a psychiatric hospital in Algeria during those struggles for independence. Algeria was a French colony and had been a French colony since around 1830 and was the jewel in the French crown, in the same way that India was the jewel in the British crown; they weren’t going to let it go easily. What he saw in Algeria changed his life, and in a way, changed all our lives because we live in the post-colonial world. Our ancestors that lived from around 1660 to 1960 lived in the colonial world and we really are living through the post-colonial world. You can’t have a conversation about the post-colonial world and how it is structured and why it is structured the way it is, and what it should or should not be, without considering Fanon’s work. So, he has an effect on all of us whether we know it or not. We may not know it, but Fanon’s ideas about how people, nations and cultures would and should emerge from colonialism, has influenced all serious thinkers and policy makers since the 1960s. And his conception of the colonial world itself, the dichotomies that he so brilliantly sets out, have influenced all serious historians of the colonial world and colonial relationships, who continue to re-read the archives with a greater respect for the cultural, which we are going to talk about today, and psychological elements of colonial domination, replacing the previous focus on political, material, and economic deprivations.
So, he really is a game-changer and I hope in reading extracts of his work today – we are taking extracts from just one essay in Wretched of the Earth – that you go and read more if you haven’t read much about him.
Let us begin by trying to map what Fanon thinks about colonialism. For Fanon, colonisation was primarily psychological, not that it wasn’t real, but that it truly became real when it had managed to infiltrate the thinking of colonised people, such that they became agents in their own colonisation. At the root of this he felt was the denigration of culture – with language, history and even one’s physicality brutality repressed, madness sets in. Anyone who accepts the colonial situation or has to live within it Fanon believes will go mad, will exhibit some form of madness. Once mad, the structures of the colonial world that we’re more used to talking about and seeing – the battering rams of the police forces, the inequities, the bullets shot from the permanent barricades – they all help to perpetuate the insecurity that fuels the madness, and in this way keeps colonised people intoxicated in suppression. Thus, there is a madness inherent in the colonial world, anyone who is subjected to it is going to go mad. Those structures of colonialism that we see, they are there to keep the people so insecure that they become intoxicated in their suppression. They are able to operate only at the elemental level, engaged only in elemental activities such as simply trying to find a silent unhampered moment within the madness.
This might seem like a digression, but I really do love bringing in references to culture, particularly music and poetry in my lectures. This idea of not being able to find a silent unhampered moment and this madness I think is dealt with brilliantly if we look at the Hip Hop culture that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s in America. This idea of being so consumed with trying to survive denigration in the ghettos of North America that you can’t even think; you can’t even find a sane moment to being to think “how am I going to get out of my situation?”. When we talk about colonialism, for Fanon all those things that we see, that’s not really colonialism, they are just there to keep us so consumed by our own mental illness that we can’t fight it. Who has time to master Shakespeare when I’m still trying to rationalise the fact that my own language doesn’t exist, even though I am speaking it, and woah, I don’t even exist, as the pass laws and racial segregation call into question my participation in this “race” we call human? So, for Fanon, forget your philosophising, and adversarial politicking, your logic games and your madness cloaked as reasoning, because the colonised man is still at the stage of trying to remember whether he exists.
For the colonised man in Fanon’s conception of the world, his number one priority is to regain his culture and everything that it carries, above all, the unique and sacred role culture plays in the cultivation of esteem. For Fanon, without esteem, you don’t exist; and if you don’t exist you can fight nothing. It is culture singularly that breeds esteem. For Fanon, the primary way to prove one’s existence, to cultivate esteem and regain one’s culture, is to engage in an armed struggle to dismantle those physical suppressants of culture, and out of the victory he felt would emerge a validation that would nurture esteem. Thus, the police forces are a part of the colonial structure, what they are doing is perpetuating the colonialism that is happening in the mind. Because of that, people are disconnected from themselves, they no longer feel there is a reason for living. In order to get back to that point where they feel they have something to live for, they have to remove those things that are suppressing their sense of self, that are suppressing their culture.
For him, that struggle itself, the act of dismantling, by force if necessary, is an act of culture. For example, when we celebrate independence days with fireworks, barbecues, and military displays, that’s a part of our culture right. If someone was to tell us that we couldn’t do any of those things, we would feel oppressed, we would feel that our culture was being attacked. But those things are customs, what do they commemorate? They commemorate a struggle. There was an independence struggle, now we have those customs that commemorate it. So, what’s the culture – the custom of the military displays or the struggle that they commemorate? Or is the culture, the struggle, the memory, and the commemoration of the struggle? For Fanon, it was the latter – you cannot have culture, without the actions that underpin the memories that are kept alive through the customs we all engage in when we say that we are practising culture. Culture then, would be decolonisation’s birth child. But how much should that culture, postcolonial, the culture that is going to give us back our esteem, how much should that culture postcolonial be taken from the displaced culture of the precolonial? That is what we are talking about today.
Just to recap: culture is denigrated in colonialism. By denigrating culture, you denigrate esteem, or you extinguish esteem, as culture holds esteem, thus you extinguish it. Once you’ve extinguished esteem then you are fully in control. You then construct the structures that are going to keep people in this madness, that is going to not allow them to exhibit any culture and therefore to have no esteem. If we want to reverse that, we need to get back our esteem, we need to get back our culture. This is what Fanon believes. But what culture are we talking about? Are we talking about the culture today, which would have been for Fanon the culture of the 1960s which had been influenced by a hundred, maybe three hundred years, of colonisation? Or are we going to try to go all the way back before that to find this pure culture which we will now use as our model?
Movements such as Négritude, the literary movement I mentioned before led by Aimé Césaire and others, say that the post-colonial culture should be almost entirely the pre-colonial culture. In fact, the parts of post-colonial culture that are legitimate are those parts that have their roots in the precolonial world. Fanon rejects this, and I’m going to tell you why. But one more consideration, what about all those people who were once part of a single geographic space pre-colonial, who have now been dispersed to a whole bunch of places where there will remain post-colonial? They have mixed and developed new cultures. Are we now all supposed to be manifesting the same culture that will free all these colonised people from colonialism? Are they all supposed to be the same people after colonialism? Fanon thinks not and, in the process, gives to us this rare breed of political thinker, a Pan-African who rejects the very notion of a universal Blackness!
Thus, for Fanon, we must consider culture, culture holds esteem, culture is uniquely targeted by colonialism and in order for us to be decolonised, we must restore culture because esteem must be restored before we can fight the system. But the main argument is, what is that culture? Where do we draw it from? Do we draw it from the precolonial world and if so, what implications does that have for the fact that Black societies are so different now from what they were before?
Given all of this – what is Black Culture? If there is a universal culture, what is it? Is Black culture the customs and beliefs of people from the continent of Africa? If so, what about those whose customs and beliefs are more a reflection of Arabic sensibilities than indigenous African ones? And what of more recent settler communities like the Boers of southern Africa, is their culture a Black culture, they’re on the continent right?
Or does pigmentation have something to do with it? Is Black culture the beliefs and customs of people of a particular pigmentation? If so, what’s the cut-off point? What about people who have the same pigmentation but are not from the continent of Africa?
Or is it the meeting of pigmentation and African heritage that creates Black culture? If so, then what about those people who were on the continent but now live in its diaspora? Can their cultures and those of people still on the continent be bundled together in this thing we call “Blackness”?
And does a definition of Black culture rely on there being a definition of white culture? The Associated Press recently joined Black publications in capitalising the word Black when referring to people and cultures, but they decided not to capitalise the word white – why?
Is Black then a synonym for non-white? If so, does that mean it didn’t exist before it was confronted with whiteness? And will it continue to exist when whiteness is no longer the vessel of global cultural hegemony?
Thus, does this mean that any culture that has had to contest with European hegemony is a Black culture, even if it is not an African culture? Are Asian and Arab cultures then also Black cultures?
And what does Black culture have to say about African culture? Are they the same thing? And what of national cultures, Zambian and St Lucian cultures – are they Black cultures? Or is Black culture a part of those national cultures, after all, not everybody in those countries is Black.
All Black emancipatory thinkers have had to deal with this question in one way or another. Though they all arrive at different conclusions, one thing is clear, you cannot remove a discussion on culture from a discussion of colonisation and de-colonisation for the reasons I’ve given. All thinkers consider cultural denigration to be a central concern, as important, if not more, than the use of violence, political suppression, or economic exploitation as representing true colonisation. By other thinkers I mean thinkers such as Aimé Césaire who I’ve mentioned and Steve Biko who came after Fanon and was heavily influenced by him.
Fanon dismisses the idea of a universal “Blackness” or as his called it “Negro-ism”. He instead speaks of a much reduced and constrained political unity that starts and end with colonialism. He goes so far as to suggest that any attempt to define a universal Black culture or history for that matter, is not just madness, but is itself a manifestation of the very colonial mentality that one is trying to extinguish. If the suggestion therefore is that Blackness is a creation of whiteness, I think Fanon would agree with that. For him, colonialism created a singular Blackness for its own benefit, to ease and globalise its acts of suppression. To accept this singular Blackness Fanon argues in decolonisation is perhaps the most colonial think that an anti-colonialist can do.
This doesn’t mean that he was not a Pan-African – he was, but his pan-Africanism was political, not cultural. And it doesn’t mean that he denied a shared history, but he limits it to just take, a history. We are not only our histories. Our lives today are functions of very real geopolitical realities that render many historical unities unfeasible. In fact, an attempt to re-construct some of these historic unities would destroy the very realities that we fought so hard to bring about. For example, if England were to choose to reacquaint itself with its Norman heritage and cede its land and people to a union with the northern departments of modern-day France, ripping France in two, and leaving out most of Scotland which the Normans were never able to fully conquer, would that make the English feel any more connected with who they really are? Surely, if a thousand years of English history distinct from Norman history has been enough to create a separate Englishman and Frenchman, three hundred years must be enough to create a Jamaican and a Ghanaian.
So, what does this all mean? What does it mean for de-colonisation? What does it mean for Pan-Africanism? What does it mean to be Black if a Black culture doesn’t exist?
Let’s dive further into Fanon’s thinking. Fanon develops his ideas on culture in many texts but principally in his essay “On National Culture” which is part of his seminal work, “The Wretched of the Earth”.
Fanon does acknowledge that any process of decolonisation needs to consider history, and that there is a psychological need for history and a psychological need for the historicisation of culture. So, Fanon was not intoxicated by contemporary struggles – he was no Che Guevara for whom revolution was detached from almost everything outside of itself. For Fanon, the nature and goals of the contemporary struggle were formed and fuelled by the history of the people undertaking that struggle. For him, colonised people seeking to free themselves from bondage must engage with their past for two reasons.
Firstly, because history, and the culture that carries it, is a principal vessel of esteem. On this point, he writes this:
let us make no mistake, it was with the greatest delight that [the nationalists] discovered that there was nothing to be ashamed of in the past, but rather dignity, glory and solemnity. The claim to a national culture in the past does not only rehabilitate that nation and serve as a justification for the hope of a future national culture, in the sphere of psycho-affective equilibrium, it is responsible for an important change in the native.
This, for Fanon, history is a principal vessel for esteem. This is to say that an engagement with history is a nurturer of esteem. By proving that he existed in the past, the colonised man begins to believe that he exists in the present. And once he beliefs he exists in the present, he is awakened, or as Fanon may put it, he becomes conscious. In modern parlance, we may say be becomes “woke”.
The second reason why history is important is that, like I mentioned, cultural denigration and the denigration of the history of the colonised people is a primary tactic of colonisation specifically because history it is such a vessel of esteem. Colonisation attacked the history of its victims with the same intensity and depravity that it attacked their physicality. On the importance of engagement with history, Fanon writes this:
Perhaps we have not sufficiently demonstrated that colonialism is not simply content to impose its role upon the present and the future of a dominated country … By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures and destroys it.
History was a principal battleground in colonisation, and therefore must too be a principal battleground in decolonisation. History is important, and if a Black person and another Black person were to look back into their histories, they are going to get to a shared history much more quickly than if two people that are not from the same culture would get to that shared history. By accepting the importance of history, Fanon seems to be accepting a connection across Black communities and perhaps the existence of a single Black culture?
Fanon says that, the colonised man is whipped into this fervour to reacquaint himself with his esteem by reacquainting himself with his history by the fear that he is being sucked into the machine, and he will no longer exist. He is scared he will a Black man in pigmentation alone, a crude mimic of western culture, a shell of an African man. This is why he wants to discover his past.
So even his fervent and manic search for his history is a creation of his colonisation. Therefore, when he looks on the denigration that he is trying to reverse through his immersion in his history, seeing that that denigration has been racialised, and globalised, and continentalised, he will fashion for himself a counterculture, a counter-history, along the same lines. He will not make his history up, but he will expand its boundaries to align with that of his oppression. Therefore, he will find a global culture where one didn’t exist. On this point, Fanon says this:
The native intellectual who decides to give battle to colonial lies fights on the field of the whole continent… For colonialism, this vast continent was the haunt of savages, a country riddled with superstitions and fanaticism, destined for contempt, weighed down by the curse of God, a country of cannibals – in short, the Negro’s country. Colonialism’s condemnation is continental in its scope… The efforts of the native to rehabilitate himself and to escape from the claws of colonialism are logically inscribed from the same point of view… The culture which is affirmed is African culture.
He is saying that yes, we have to look back at our culture, it is important because our culture has been attacked and our culture holds everything that is important to us, what makes us believe ourselves to be alive. But we have to understand that the reason we want to do that is because we have been oppressed by this colonialism. We thus go back into the past; we try to find the sources of our history that are going to give us back our esteem so that we can fight the colonialism. But our conception of the problem is itself colonialised. Therefore, our conception of the solution is going to be colonialised. The universalising of Blackness is a colonial construct therefore in trying to seek solutions we immediately veer towards universal conceptions where those didn’t previously exist.
He goes on to say this:
The negro… when he decides to prove that he has a culture and to behave like a cultured person, comes to realise that history points out a well-defined path to him: he must demonstrate that a negro culture exists… The poets of Negro-ism will not stop at the limits of the continent. From America, black voices will take up the hymn with fuller unison. The “black world” will see the light and… will not hesitate to assert the existence of common ties and a motive power that is identical.
For Fanon, the psychiatrist, this is madness. If colonisation, by seeking to act at the level of culture and history took it too far, a decolonisation that stretches and pulls Blackness to non-sensical limits is equally taking it too far.
Fanon holds that there is no global culture, there is no universal Blackness. Blackness itself was a creation of colonialism and to seek to justify it historically, reading into the past as well as the present connections with no real legitimacy, is tantamount to accepting the validity of the colonial world view, the idea that there is a one and there is an “other”.
For Fanon, colonialism is a religion of reduction and generalisation, it is a delusion that can only be countered with multiplicity and specificity. If colonialism wants you to see only one difference, between an invented whiteness and an invented Blackness, between an invented haves and have nots, decolonisation then must force the acknowledgement of a multitude of differences that will negate the reduction of all human activity to simple dichotomies, the rich and poor, European and African, white and Black. On this point, Fanon says this:
This historical necessity in which the men of African culture find themselves to racialise their claims and to speak more of African culture than of national culture will tend to lead them up a blind alley.
Talking about the establishment of a Pan-African organisation known as The African Cultural Society (an organisation that was trying to bring Black people from across the continent and the diaspora together to try to pursue solidarity and bring about decolonisation), Fanon said this:
this society will very quickly show its inability to shoulder these different tasks [being the task to speak for every continental and diasporic nation] and will limit itself to exhibitionist demonstrations… The African Society will become the cultural society of the Black world and will come to include the Negro dispersion, that is to say the tens of thousands of black people spread over the American continent…During the first Congress of the African cultural society which was held in Paris in 1956, the American Negroes of their own accord considered their problems from the same standpoint as those of their African brothers… Little by little the Americans realised that the essential problems confronting them were not the same as those that confronted their African neighbours.… During the second Congress of the African cultural society, the American Negroes decided to create an American society for people of black cultures.
It’s not going to work Fanon says, the people are too different. It’s not going to work because, by trying to construct a culture that will deliver esteem but based only on the dubious notion of a single history that was a creation of the colonialism that we are seeking to extinguish, not only do we perpetuate the colonial world view, but also the colonial mentality that asks all participants to suspend reality by dismissing the very living nature of culture. Culture is not merely a function the past, but of the present. Are we to ignore the truth of our geopolitical realities in pursuit of historic connections under the impression that history is a stronger bond, when we know that the idea that there was one African history is a nonsense anyway? On this point, Fanon says this:
Negro and African Negro culture broke up into different entities because the men who wished to incarnate these cultures realised that every culture is first and foremost national.…’
He is saying that those people who wanted to pursue colonialism, they know that culture is national and therefore by taking individuals and breaking them up they sought to break and destroy culture. We know that there were practices where people from different communities were deliberately under slavery separated. And even under colonialism you have kings being displaced from their people because there is the realisation that you cannot just supplant a culture, extract it from its people and do as you wish with it. He continues:
In the same way certain Arab states, though they had chanted the marvellous hymn of Arab Renaissance, had nevertheless to realise that their geographical position and the economic ties of the region were stronger even than the past that they wished to revive… certain Arab states are so different, and so far away from each other in their conceptions that even a cultural meeting between the states is meaningless.
For Fanon then, culture, that great vessel of esteem, with its language, customs, religions, mannerisms, power structures, collective memories, and of course, history – is alive. It is a living thing. It cannot be defined solely as a set of behaviours you imagine were demonstrated at some point in time that you weren’t even there to see. And then you can’t cage the whole of Black society within that one iteration of the past and say that by that iteration we must all seek liberation. On this he says:
Culture is becoming more and more cut off from the events of today. It finds its refuge beside a hearth that glows with passionate emotion… The attitude of the native intellectual sometimes takes on the aspect of a cult or of a religion……When at the height of his intercourse with his people, whatever they were or whatever they are, the intellectual decides to come down into the common paths of real life, he only brings back from his adventuring formulas which are sterile in the extreme. He sets a high value on the customs, traditions, and the appearances of his people; but his inevitable, painful experience only seems to be a banal search for exoticism.
For Fanon, an intellectual, an anti-colonialist, who goes back into the past and tries to base the unity required in the current struggle purely on culture that is derived solely from a shared history is engaging in a futile attempt, a delusion. And they themselves are like foreigners to their people; they don’t want to look at the realities of their people.
Fanon gives a reason for this. He understands why the culture must be made universal – he feels it is a total war mentality. I would add that perhaps this need to include everyone in the liberation struggle is a reflection of the communalism so associated with African sensibilities and perhaps this “no tribe left behind” mentality is a fight against the individualism that has fuelled western hegemony. But Fanon also understands that the reality is grim. No one wants to accept their current iteration of denigration and they don’t want to accept that it is a part of their culture. People want to do away with colonialism and never remember it. The madness that Fanon associates with colonialism wishes to revert to a safe “before place”, free from the corruption. For the colonised man, his culture along with his psyche has been corrupted. The feeder tab of that culture, the feeder tap of his esteem, has been commandeered by hostile forces – the western education system, the western Christian church, the western political systems, the western languages. This reversion to the past is an act of survival. To preserve the mind distinct from the brutality of the current iteration of the space-time continuum you have to go to the past.
Fanon gets it, but he rejects it. This does not constitute a revolution for him – trying to unify everybody in this way is not a revolution. Revolution is in facing reality. It is not turning to a reduced conception of the past, it is forging culture in the expanded reality of the future, with all its complexity, multiplicity, and specificity. On this he says:
The native intellectual nevertheless sooner or later will realise that you do not show proof of your nation from its culture but that you substantiate its existence in the fight which the people wage against the forces of occupation. No colonial system draws its justification from the fact that the territories it dominates are culturally non-existent. You will never make colonialism blush for shame by spreading out little-known cultural treasures under its eyes.
For Fanon, yes there is a basis for looking at history, yes there is a basis for accepting it – it builds your esteem, it awakens your mind. But that is not going to be enough. Colonialism doesn’t believe that your culture doesn’t exist. It wants you to believe that your culture doesn’t exist so that you don’t do anything about it, but it knows your culture exists. So, by proving your culture exists and has always existed, that’s not going to end colonialism. Colonialism is going to be ended in the fight against those structures. Don’t try to find a single culture that unites us, he claims. What unites us is a political struggle and that’s enough. We don’t need to try and find any artificial unity beyond that. On his he says:
…national culture is not a folklore, nor an abstract populism that believes it can discover the people’s true nature…A national culture is the whole body of efforts made by a people in the sphere of thought to describe, justify and praise the action through which that people has created itself and keeps itself in existence…Men of African cultures who are still fighting in the name of African-Negro culture and who have called many congresses in the name of the unit of that culture should today realise that all their efforts amount to is to make comparisons between coins and sarcophagi.
He is stating it clearly here: you are bothering yourself with this folklore and trying to discover who we were beforecolonisation. All you’ve ended up doing is reducing the culture and dislocating it from its present reality. You have achieved nothing because those past cultures no longer exist, and they cannot be the basis solely of the current struggle. He says:
There is no common destiny to be shared between the national culture of Senegal and Guinea; but there is a common destiny between the Senegalese and the Guinean nations which are both dominated by the same French colonialism…to believe that it is possible to create a black culture is to forget that niggers are disappearing, just as those people who brought them into being are seeing the break-up of their economic and cultural supremacy.
To be Black is a function of colonialism. Colonialism is ending. As the ending of colonialism is going to, in his opinion, extinguish white supremacy, it is also going to extinguish the Black oppression that it created. So why are you trying to hold on to Blackness? You should let go of it and instead think of yourself in these national designations. These individual nations need not have shared culture that is based on language, religion, food, conceptions of how we honour ourselves, how we marry etc. What can unite us is the colonial struggle, that is enough. Is the colonial struggle not enough? For Fanon, it is.
Fanon thus believes that for Black communities, Blackness is political, it is not cultural in the sense that there is a single shared history. He doesn’t believe that there is a single shared history, he doesn’t believe that the people who lived in Senegal precolonial considered themselves to be Senegalese, because there was no Senegal. So how on earth could they have even conceived of themselves as so linked to this concept of African and Blackness that would link them with people tens of thousands of miles away at the tip of southern Africa. So, for Fanon culture, a united Blackness, is merely political and its definitions, its starting point, its ending point, are in the colonial world. Once the colonial world falls then Blackness is simply a function of the continued struggle against white hegemony. But other than that, there is no universal Black culture, there is only a universal Black political struggle.
FANON, Frantz. “On National Culture” in The Wretched of the Earth, 1961.