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  • L'Afrique, Entre Passé et Futur:L'urgence d'un Choix Public de L'intelligence, and: Reconstruire l'Afrique: Vers une Nouvelle Gouvernance Fondée sur les Dynamiques Locales
  • Guy Martin
Kavwahirehi, Kasereka . 2009. L'Afrique, Entre Passé et Futur: L'urgence d'un Choix Public de L'intelligence. Brussels and New York: P.I.E. Peter Lang. 330 pp. €38.50; $59.95 (paper).
Sy, Ousmane . 2009. Reconstruire l'Afrique: Vers une Nouvelle Gouvernance Fondée sur les Dynamiques Locales. Bamako and Paris: Éditions Jamana / Éditions Charles-Léopold Mayer. 220 pp. €19.00 (paper).

Africa is currently experiencing a multifaceted crisis on several fronts: political, security, economic, and financial, social, and cultural, but Africa is also, more fundamentally, confronting a crisis of identity and values, or, according to Fabien Eboussi Boulaga, "a crisis of critical thinking." Two African intellectuals, one from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kasereka Kavwahirehi) and the other from Mali (Ousmane Sy), resolved to tackle the challenge head-on, first by offering thought-provoking diagnosis of the problem and then by proposing innovative solutions to address this crisis.

In L'Afrique, entre passé et futur (Africa, between past and future), Kasereka Kavwahirehi—a professor of francophone literature at the University of Ottawa—begins his inquiry by observing that "there cannot be any real socio-political change without the deliberate production of a body of critical thought and a radical transformation of existing thought processes" (p. 23) Consequently, "the current situation of the continent calls for a new idea of Africa and of its role in the world" to counter "the anthropological marginalization of the African societies" (p. 24). In brief, "to understand the African crisis—which is anthropological and ontological, as well as epistemological—, we must challenge Western imperialist discourses" (p. 25). Kavwahirehi believes that, to understand the African crisis in all its complexity, a multidisciplinary perspective—including literature, philosophy, and the social sciences—is necessary (pp. 25, 29). In the ten chapters that constitute parts one and two of the book—respectively entitled "The Crisis: Markers and Concepts" and "Is Another Africa Possible?"—the author reviews how intellectuals from central Africa have analyzed and proposed solutions to the African crisis. [End Page 94]

Chapter one surveys the views and opinions of Cameroonian (Fabien Eboussi Boulaga, Jean-Marc Ela, Achille Mbembe, and Celestin Monga) and Congolese (Kä Mana, V. Y. Mudimbe, Georges Ngal) scholars on the nature of postcolonial African states and the role of African intellectuals in political and social change. These authors observe that African postcolonial states are unreformed colonial states, based on violence and predation and totally dysfunctional because they are divorced from their citizens. The following quote arguably best captures the book's central thesis, as embodied in its subtitle: "We must invent a new human face for Africa, free new potentialities for a common destiny[,] and light up the path to our common future" (p. 56). Kavwahirehi then concludes: "some path-breaking analyses which could serve as a basis for re-inventing Africa actually exist" (p. 58).

Chapter two highlights the need to nurture and revive African indigenous beliefs and traditions as a means of energizing modern political systems and institutions. Based on the works and thought of V. Y. Mudimbe, chapter three suggests that "the social sciences and the humanities as practiced will enable the African to fully express himself in all his originality and singularity" and concludes that "there cannot be any decolonization of African knowledge without a decolonization of the African being in his essence" (pp. 93, 95). Chapter four is a reflection on the African crisis by Werewere Liking, based on a scathing criticism of Afro-pessimism and a passionate advocacy of the African Renaissance, aiming at the emergence of "a new [African] man" (pp. 114-115). In chapter five, which concludes part one of the book, Congolese author Pius Ngandu Nkashama highlights the increasingly important role of religion in general, and of the Catholic Church in particular, in African politics. In part two of the book (chapters six through nine), several crucial methodological and epistemological issues are raised, namely, the necessity of a truly Africa-centered philosophy of the social sciences and...


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