Even though the Pan Africanist Congress was formed in 1959 after departing from the African National Congress at a point marking out the irreconcilability of the Azanian ‘faith’ with the other interpretations of the struggle within the ‘broad church’ of the Congress Movement, it was only six years later, in 1965, that it modified its name to the PAC of Azania. The name Azania is supposed to have been suggested by Nkrumah at the All-African Peoples’ Conference in 1958 attended by the Africanists even before the inauguration of the PAC (Diaz 2009: 239; Hilton 1993: 5). The Azanian tendency in ‘South African’ history can arguably be said to have existed from the earliest times of resistance by the indigenous people against the unjust wars of colonisation (see Dladla 2020: 71–108).
This article sets out a few key questions, themes, and problems animating an Azanian social and political philosophy, with specific reference to the radical promise of undoing South African disciplinary knowledges. The article is made up of two parts: The first part discusses the epistemic and political forces arrayed against black radical thought in South Africa and beyond. A few current trends of anti-black thinking – liberal racism, Left Eurocentrism, and postcolonial post-racialism – which pose challenges for the legibility of Azanian critique are outlined. Part two constructs an exposition and synthesis of key tenets of Azanian thinking elaborated upon under three signs: ‘South Africa’, ‘race and racism’, and ‘Africa’. The aim of the discussion is to illustrate the critical, emancipatory potential of Azanian thought and its radical incommensurability with dominant strands of scholarship in the human and social sciences today. The article ultimately defends the reassertion of black radical thought in the South African academy today and underscores in particular the abolitionist drive of Azanian political thought.
The Historiography of African Nationalism in Conqueror South Africa
The story of conqueror South African historiography relies on the ebbs and flows of narrative clichés and tropes. The main narrative arcs relate to historiographies that frame the understanding and analysis of conqueror South Africa. These historiographies interpret history as forming part of an epistemological paradigm of conqueror South Africa: a historiography that does not question the ethical right to conquest. This article focuses on the interpretations of African Nationalism by proponents of the liberal and Marxist historiographic traditions and critiques the way in which these historiographies depict and characterise African Nationalism. This historical characterisation bears an influence in current political and social discourse in conqueror South Africa: African Nationalism is relegated to a misguided moment in history, something to be reflected upon from a distance, an irrelevant phase in the long walk to a multiracial and cosmopolitan South Africa.
Towards a More Just Philosophical Community
This article examines the Australian ‘Continental Philosophy’ community through the lens of the Azanian philosophical tradition. Specifically, it interrogates the series of conversations around race and methodology that arose from the 2017 Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy (ASCP) conference. At the heart of these were questions of place, race, Indigeneity, and the very meaning of ‘Continental Philosophy’ in Australia. The pages that follow pursue those questions, grappling with the relationship between the articulation of disciplinary bounds and the exercise of colonial power. Having struggled with the political and existential cost of participation in the epistemic community that is the ASCP, I argue for disengagement and the exploration of alternative intellectual communities. This is ultimately a call to intellectual work grounded on ethical relations rather than on the furtherance of the status quo. It is a call to take seriously the claim, ‘the land is ours’.
The Romans identified East Africa as Azania. The Chinese as Zezan. The metropolis of Rhapta was indicated to be the capital of Azania. In recent times a controversy emerged as to the location of Azania and Rhapta. A discussion has also occurred regarding the kind of people who settled in Azania. Whereas some scholars agree that the core of Azania was in East Africa modern, the geographical extent of Azania is in question. Archaeological, historical, and linguistic data have been used to suggest Azania extended from the coast of East Africa to the Great Lakes region, central Africa and South Africa. It is also argued that the people of Azania were Bantu speakers who were farming and smelting iron. It is therefore justifiable for the people of the larger region of South Africa to East Africa to name themselves Azanians.
Experimental Notes on Azanian Aesthetic Theory
Athi Mongezeleli Joja
Jafta Kgalabi Masemola is the longest serving (1963–1989) anti-apartheid political prisoner in South Africa's notorious Robben Island. Although Masemola is well known in the struggle narratives, not much has been written about him and his practices as a political organiser beyond biographical and anecdotal narratives. This article considers, with a certain degree of detail, an even more unthought aspect of Masemola's life, his creative productions; in particular, the aesthetic logic that underwrites the master key that he cloned from a bar of soap while jailed in Robben Island. Looking from the vantage point of aesthetic and critical discourse, the article attempts to open up new vistas and interests in Azanian cultural praxis.
The focus of the article is to explore the possibilities of philosophic discourse in the present postcolonial African situation. As indicated in the title, it will begin by exploring and laying out grosso modo, the character of philosophy as a discipline. It will then engage in examining, again broadly, Africa's present: the situation that has prevailed since the end of formal colonialism. Consequent on the two expositive presentations, the article will then indicate the role that philosophy can and should play in this situation. The aim is to explore the possible beyond the demise of colonialism in the hope of catching sight of a truly postcolonial future. The article is thus a concise articulation of the hermeneutical stance in contemporary African philosophy.
This article discusses the contemporary history of South African social science in relation to the Azanian Philosophical Tradition. It is addressed directly to white scholars, urging introspection with regard to the ethical question of epistemic justice in relation to the evolution of the social sciences in conqueror South Africa. I consider the establishment of the professional social sciences at South African universities in the early twentieth century as a central part of the epistemic project of conqueror South Africa. In contrast, the Azanian Philosophical Tradition is rooted in African philosophy and articulated in resistance against the injustice of conquest and colonialism in southern Africa since the seventeenth century. It understands conquest as the fundamental historical antagonism shaping the philosophical, political, and material problem of ‘South Africa’. The tradition is silenced by and exceeds the political and epistemic strictures of the settler colonial nation state and social science.
Freedom, Resistance and Radical Realism
This article compares the ideas of Amílcar Cabral and Amartya Sen on capability, freedom, resistance and political change, thereby revealing the importance of radical realism in political thought and development studies. Sen's path-breaking work has been transformative for multiple disciplines, not least development. Yet, reading Sen alongside the ideas of one of Africa's most successful anti-colonial political leaders is revelatory: it provides the basis for the argument that radical realism is most valuable if it is action-guiding, comparative and about context-specific change. This involves a distinction between realistic political theory and realism in political thought where only the latter demands utopian thinking. What follows from this regarding democracy, impartiality and justice? In answering this with reference to some social movements, the article then defends the political potential of conflict, partisan positions, resistance and political change directed towards overcoming domination.
SimonMary Aihiokhai, Lorina Buhr, David Moore, and William Jethro Mpofu
Teresia Mbari Hinga, African, Christian, Feminist: The Enduring Search for What Matters. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2017, 244 pp.
Michael Marder, Political Categories: Thinking Beyond Concepts. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019, 255pp.
António Tomás, Amílcar Cabral: The Life of a Reluctant Nationalist. London: Hurst, 2021, 272 pp.
Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Epistemic Freedom in Africa: Deprovincialization and Decolonization. London: Routledge, 2018, 282pp.