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This paper offers a historico-political exegesis of V-I Mudimbe’s Invention of Africa and Idea of Africa, reading how these texts respond to a post-independence African context of political and epistemic despair. This despair reflects at once the desire for a non-Western claim to knowledge and life, for political and economic autonomy from the West, and the seeming impossibilities (confirmed by the political ordinary) of enacting these. Retracing Mudimbe’s analysis of African political thought in the wake of Négritude and his critique of representation, this essay works through Mudimbe’s intellectual historical methods to draw out a subtextual response to questions of historicity, political commitment, and the role of intellectual thought in Black resistant response. I argue that these questions are instantiated in the concept of “absolute discourse.” This concept reveals a theory of speech, inhabitation, and contingency critically aligned with postcolonial Marxist demands for authenticity, sovereignty and authority. Moreover, through this, and against any presumption of futility, I argue that Mudimbe constitutes a theory of politics—of resistance, claim, and seizure, and their limits—and contingency amidst seeming and real epistemic and material closures.