African I Dentity

Angelina Banda
Contemporary Political theory
Tutorial 3: Critically evaluate the validity and significance of Achille Mbembe's claim that "African identity does not exist as a substance. It is constituted, in varying forms, through a series of practices, notably practices of the self."

Since the liberation of African states from colonial rule, African people have had to integrate in the global sphere by establishing their own identity as a race. Mbembe argues that through the process of colonization, slavery and apartheid the African self has become alienated from itself, calling it, self division (Mbembe,241:2002). He argues that this separation is supposed to result in a loss of familiarity with the self, to the point that the subject having become estranged from themselves has been relegated to a lifeless form of identity. He goes on to identify two more canonical meanings of the African people attributed to the process of slavery, colonialism and apartheid. This tutorial will thus discuss these three meanings and their influence on the African people and how they identify themselves notably how they act out practices of the self and if these practices form a an identity of substance.
Noting that he believes slavery, colonialism and apartheid have alienated the African from themselves to such a degree that they no longer identify with themselves. He also argues that these events have also led to dispossession, a process in which juridical and economic procedures have led to material expropriation. Historical degradation which he views as having plunged the African subject not only into humiliation, debasement and nameless suffering but also into a zone of nonbeing and social death characterized by the denial of dignity, heavy psychic damage and the torment of exile (Mbembe, 242:2002).   It is this clear that Mbembe views the African as a nation of people who are unable to produce their own identity void of their (preodical) history so much so that he could...