Final Year of a Life Well Lived:A Requiem for Frantz Fanon
Lewis R. Gordon[D]eath is always with us and . . . what matters is not to knowwhether we can escape it but whether we have achieved themaximum for the ideas we have made our own. —— Frantz FanonI don’t like men who hoard their resources. —— Frantz FanonFanon was of the opinion that a society is most healthy when its people forego nationalismfor the sake of national consciousness. When such a development arises in different ages,each generation, he contended, discovers its mission. It is difficult not to think aboutFanon as one witnesses the youth who took to the streets in North Africa and the MiddleEast in 2010 to 2011 and achieved fragile change in some cases and the continued wrath of violent dictatorship and monarchical rule in others. The contours of debates, where super powers attempt to negotiate outcomes of protected interests, bring to the fore possibilitiesof radical democracy constrained by promissory notes of global capital and the potential of electronic media.Although some critics have attempted to imprison Fanon in the dawn of the 1960s,his ideas have returned in cycles in the neocolonial and postcolonial developments in theremaining twentieth-century and the tumultuous ones into the second decade of the twenty-first. A striking feature of Fanon the man was the tenderness of his age. Similar to those North African youth of today, he was caught up in revolutionary struggles in his twenties.And, unfortunately, like too many, he remains frozen in that youth, in a way, as someonewho never completed his fourth decade. Yet, as this reflection and many others attest, hehis legacy defies his death.In 1960, Fanon, the thirty-five year-old psychiatrist and veteran of WWII, twicedecorated for valor, was appointed ambassador in Ghana for the Algerian NationalLiberation Front (FLN). He had devoted the past six years of his life to the struggle for independence and had, among many efforts at articulating the FLN’s international image,composed
L’An V de la révolution algérienne
(1959). The world had changed much bythen; it was clear that Algeria was on the eve of national liberation, and in Fanon’s nativeCaribbean, the revolutionary spirit had begun to take hold. The Cuban Revolution raisedconsiderable challenge to the Monroe Doctrine, an imperial declaration that establishedthe United States’ hegemonic relationship with the Caribbean and Latin America. Civil
I thank Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France for permission to use the photographs below.