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African intellectuals and nationalism

Mkandawire, Thandika (2005) African intellectuals and nationalism. In: African Intellectuals: Rethinking Politics, Language, Gender and Development. Africa in the new millennium. Zed Books in association with CODESRIA Books, London, UK, pp. 10-55. ISBN 9781842776209

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The relationship between African intellectuals and Pan-Africanism and nationalism has been both a symbiotic and a fraught one. After independence, the capacity of intellectuals to "speak truth to power " and their penchant for puncturing myths which was prized in the struggle for independence, were now perceived as divisive and thus inimical to the new nation-state. Mkandawire speaks of three different phases in his chapter. The age of euphoria, being the first, was the period up to the late 1970s which was when the first African "professoriate " emerged. During this period the relationship between the state and intellectuals was good. For the first generation of post-colonial intellectuals, this was the era of affirmation of the nationalist project and rejection of imperial intellectual domination and neo-colonial machinations. The second period was that of disenchantment and disillusionment when the intellectuals blamed the leaders for "betraying the nationalist struggle". The third phase , being the decade that Mkandawire describes as one of "extremes: renaissance or resignation?" , is also characterised as a " period of bewildering extremes for Africa" ( Zeleza 2003: 101 ). Not surprisingly, the repertoire of responses by African intellectuals was wide-ranging, including self-criticism, withdrawal, re-engagement in democratic politics, participation in tribalistic politics and joining the guerillas. In conclusion, Mkandawire asserts that an unfettered intellectual class is an emancipatory force that can be put to good use.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2005 The author
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2011 08:36
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 23:34

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