By Robert W. July
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Additional info for An African Voice: The Role of the Humanities in African Independence
It is not our common color but our common experience as a colonial people. And what has colonialism meant to us, but a denial of our own self, a refusal to admit the humanity of the black, an unwillingness to allow him his presence in the world as a human being, as a man ? We are united by this colonialist oppression, and we are united by our common culture, which that oppression has sought to destroy. This common culture, Cesaire continued, is a product of social forces, including language, but its health relies on freedom of expression; a colonial regime that suppresses the self-determination of a people will surely kill that people's creative power and with it the people's culture.
While many Africans subscribed to socialist principles regarding public control of the means of production and distribution, they also suspected international communism of utilizing misery, poverty, ignorance, and want in Africa on behalf of Soviet foreign policy objectives. African Marxists, therefore, were often ambivalent, poised between their socialist beliefs and their desire for domestic economic and political advances. , a history of past and recent black movements, the thesis of which was that advances by blacks in Africa and elsewhere had always come primarily through self-help.
What is thrust upon us is naked oppression through a system that ignores human dignity and intellectual rigor in its pursuit of economic advantage. Money is the foundation of this Western culture, said Cesaire, and for profit it will eliminate everything in its path-culture, philosophy, religion-all that might impede or paralyze the march toward enrichment by a group of privileged men. It stands to reason, Cesaire insisted, that the colonial system cannot give what it has of value. If the colonized were to receive the benefits of Western economic, political, and social riches, the transformation would be quick and complete.