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Pan-African Classics

Ann Schneider May 21, 2007

Many of these books can be found in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, W. 135th St. and Malcolm X Blvd. Try also Revolution Books, 9 W. 19th St., and indigocafe.com.

Patrick Chabal. Amilcar Cabral, Revolutionary Leadership and People’s War. (Africa World Press, 2003). This 288-page volume is about the founder of the PIAGC, the movement to liberate Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde.

Samir Amin. Obsolescent Capitalism (Zed Books, 2004); Unequal Development (Monthly Review Press, 1977); Accumulation on a World Scale (Monthly Review Press, 1978). Amin argues for a globalization based on the needs of the periphery, not the center, and for “de-linking” development from capital investment.

W.E.B. Du Bois. The World and Africa: an Inquiry into the Part which Africa has Played in World History (International Publishers, Revised edition 1979). Editor of The Crisis for 25 years, organ of the NAACP, and convener of the 5th Pan African Conference in Manchester, England, 1945.

Aime Cesaire. A Season in the Congo, 1966, a poetic drama about the rise and fall of Patrice Lumumba.

Frantz Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth (Grove Press, reprint 2005), the 1961 classic by the author of Black Skin, White Masks (Grove Press, reissue 1991). This Caribbean-born, French-trained psychiatrist joined the National Liberation Front to liberate Algeria. His work wed guerrilla struggle and psychology, inspiring generations of revolutionaries.

Kwame Nkrumah. Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism,” (International Publishers, 1965). Nkrumah put the onus for violent repression of self-determination squarely at the foot of Wall Street. He called for the strengthening of the Afro-Asian alliance that came out of the 1955 Bandung Conference, leading to the development of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Walter Rodney. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (Howard University Press, revised 1981). His preface reads, “None of these remarks are intended to remove the ultimate responsibility for development from the shoulders of Africans. Not only are there African accomplices inside the imperialist system, but every African has a responsibility to understand the system and work for its overthrow. … In the final analysis, perhaps the most important principle of colonial education was that of capitalist individualism … In Africa, both the formal school system and the informal value system of colonialism destroyed social solidarity and promoted the worst form of alienated individualism without social responsibility.”

C.L.R. James. A History of Pan-African Revolt, with an introduction by Robin D.G. Kelley. (Charles H Kerr Press, 1995). Originally published in 1938 as A History of Negro Revolt. James also authored The Black Jacobins, Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, the classic and exciting history of Haiti.

Cheikh Anta Diop. Black Africa, the Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State, (Lawrence Hill Books, 1987) first published in 1978.

Patrick Bond. Looting Africa: the Economics of Exploitation, (Zed Books, 2006). Bond’s argument is that imperialism persists: global structures of economic domination facilitate the theft of Africa’s resources so that rich countries grow richer while the vast majority of Africans grow poorer. He highlights the role of national elites in directing, supporting and maintaining these economic relationships. Critical of charitable efforts, he sees hope in the campaigns to keep biotech seeds out of Africa and efforts to overcome AIDS drugs patent monopolies.