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By Caroline Rooney

This ebook marks an enormous contribution to colonial and postcolonial reviews in its rationalization of the African discourse of cognizance and its far-reaching analyses of a literature of animism. it will likely be of serious curiosity to students in lots of fields together with literary and significant idea, philosophy, anthropology, politics and psychoanalysis.

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In brief, the various objections raised may be summarised in terms of a lop-sided over-evaluation of creativity, especially in its spiritual aspects, at the expense of political and material considerations. 54 James Clifford, in his contribution to the debate surrounding the issue, makes the point that what Western culture conceives of as primitive traditions and relegates to the past (and, we could add, continues to fetishise and colonise as its own lost origin or originality), is a matter of what keeps renewing itself as ‘newly traditional’.

That is, Balfour is set up as something of a mastermind, a bit of an evil genius, in seeming to lay claim to a superior knowledge through which power may be seized. It may be that the intelligence of the reading of Balfour’s speech is that of Said, while Balfour’s Introduction 27 explicit words make him sound more naive. Balfour could be seen as offering, without any ironic self-consciousness, the platitude of the West’s civilising mission as an enlightening, democratising, liberalising one. Colonial discourse, at least since the Enlightenment, has been a discourse of liberation.

It makes sense: it is not the dead who are in death immortal but life that is, the life in which the dead have participated and so live on in its living on. ’50 Jahn, drawing on Kagame writes: ‘Strictly speaking … it is false to say that the dead “live”. ’51 Diop’s poem can be juxtaposed with the Tonga concept of spirit, muuya, as Kramer summarises: It is unembodied but rather a motion one perceives in something. For this reason the Tonga compare it with the wind; they call the spirits ‘wind’ ‘because we do not see them.

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