I have read Mandisi Majavu's essay with interest . I found it different and less engaging than the articles he wrote before. What I missed from his article this time being - his own voice. In this essay he has drowned it in a cacophony of quotes from secondary sources.
I expected the title to give a panoramic view of the essay and to be followed by an introductory paragraph which leads us into the hinterland of the essay. The title is not doing its job. I do not see it demarcating the purview of the topic he means to treat. Though, it is not clear where psychology stops and other sciences begin. Especially, its critical version. This has made the essay unwieldy.
Then comes the two blocks of paragraphs entirely made of quotes. I do not know. I fear academy is cramping his style. There is a whole lot of talk on quoting, on acknowledging the originator of the idea…the sentence. Maybe that is the culprit.
His rebuttal that decolonisation should not be violent, as Fanon takes it to be, is cogent. This is the best part of the essay. Still, I see something lacking - real world examples. Why not motivate it by bringing the experience of South Africa, India and also Zimbabwe among others? Why not introduce his own voice, when there is a big room for that? We miss Mandisi there.
He went past overruling violence as a solution and tried to prove that being subjected to colonialism does not result in inferiority complex and self hatred. Then, what is the effect of colonialism on the subject people? I am not questioning whether it is a disease that can be treated by violence or not. Violence can utmost be surface therapeutic. But, what comes to explain away the evil effects of colonialism though we may not find them a common name- is typical gooblydygook. The worst part of the essay.
Here is also another point I would like to comment on in this essay: 'To write in African language, or quote only African writers, does not necessarily translate into originality.' What is at stake here is not ‘originality’, it is ‘allegiance’. Proponents of national culture do not hold that one's capacity to produce something ‘original’ will betray you the moment you strayed into a foreign culture. But mourn the loss of your brainpower spent on producing an original work that enriches foreign culture rather than yours. Why not pull Ngugi’s Decolonizing the Mind into the picture? I think it is relevant and would have helped him to ground and flesh out his argument.
Mandisi's absence is conspicuous in the conclusion than in any other part of the essay. We never get a chance to hear him even in the conclusion. Besides, why present a premise in a conclusion? Another minor contention: why a yawn-inducing borrowed from economics jargon - growth-oriented attitude about one’s ideas. This is an obvious fact that can be put in a simple language. Everybody outgrows his ideas. It is a one way street. It begins at romanticism and goes to the direction of realism. We are all in that continuum. Let me finish by giving free rein to my quibbling. Somewhere in the essay he has written the ‘arrogance of colonial power’. It is so harsh a reality to be called by a light word such as ‘arrogance’. Arrogance is the attribute some ascribe to President Thabo Mbeki. I think ‘intransigence’ may be better, though not a perfect fit.