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The Impact of French Colonial Expansion on Frantz Fanon

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Passion for Post-Colonialism and Colonial Injustice/ Frantz Fanon’s passion for Post-Colonialism was sparked by the unjust treatment of French soldiers towards the Martiniquan people where they raped and sexually harassed the women. These troubling occurrences caused Fanon to despise French rule. The colonialist had such strong influence that physically, psychologically, and culturally, the colonized were dominated. Another reason for Fanon’s strong resistance to Post-Colonialism was that during his tenure as a psychiatrist in Algeria, the Algerian revolution broke out where Algerians sought independence from France. His witness to the tortured victims at the hospitals spurned him to action. He severed all ties with France and joined in the revolutionary cause, declaring himself a member of the revolutionary army. He then became an ambassador for the Algerian movement to Ghana.

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As a colonized individual himself, he followed what was expected of him as one fully integrated in the colonialist system. He got a quality French education, served in the French army for WWII, married a French woman, and worked for the French government as a psychiatrist. Therefore like W.E.B Du Bois theorized he had a sense of double consciousness. This double consciousness is the root of his most famed book Black Face, White Masks. The black colonized man has to fight against a society structure according to white, colonial norms and mores, while attempting to accept his unique, indigenous identity. This contradictory dichotomy inherent in Colonialism could have been spawned and enforced further by his upbringing since he was raised by mulatto parents: his mother has European blood while his father was Afro-Martiniquan. Inspired by his Martiniquan teacher, Aime Cesaire, Fanon was learnt in Colonial Studies and embraced nascent cultural and literary movement, Negritude, a genre which rejected colonial French domination and which at the same time identified with African culture peculiar to the African Diaspora.

Frantz Fanon distinguishes himself from the body of Post-Colonial critics since he applied psychology and psychiatry to the colonist, imperialist, and colonized thought and attitude; therefore he can be read as a psychoanalyst critic. He has incorporated psychoanalyst critics’ theories such as Carl Jung’s collective consciousness, collective cartharsis, and Sigimund Freud’s id, ego, and superego to support his stance on the black man’s consciousness perverted since childhood instigated by his contact with the white world. Linguistically, Fanon has agreed that language can be used as a tool or weapon in the mouths of the colonized peoples to resist conformity and forge identity. The colonist’s language is learnt and spoken by the colonized hence a partial erosion of identity since the subjugated speaks the tongue of his oppressor. As a consequence of the world perception expressed only in terms of his colonist, the colonized black man resorts to undermining his race, desiring likeness to his colonist. Fanon also decried the association of blackness to evil, sin, vice and whiteness to good, purity, light etc. Therefore, Fanon’s aim was to deconstruct the binary of colour, quality, and race established by colonists where the white colonist is at the centre and the black colonized are on the fringes.

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Frantz Fanon’s demise came subtly with a diagnosis of leukemia during his term as Algerian ambassador in Ghana. He was intensely sick during the writing of the book, The Wretched of the Earth yet, completed it within ten months. In his rapidly declining health, he was treated by a hospital in Bethesda, Maryland courtesy the CIA. He was so sympathetic to the Algerian cause that he adopted the name, “Ibrahim Fanon” upon his death in 1961 when Algerian independence was finally won. The Algerian Federation Army honoured and buried him.

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