The Struggle for African Identity: Thabo Mbeki’s African Renaissance

In: Media, Identity and the Public Sphere in Post-Apartheid South Africa
Pal Ahluwalia
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This paper examines South African President Thabo Mbeki’s notion of the African Renaissance. Representations of Africa have been challenged in the past by movements such as negritude and pan-Africanism. Thabo Mbeki’s proclamation of the African Renaissance can be seen as another attempt to fight and challenge prevailing representations of Africa. An African Renaissance that does not degenerate into essentialism (particularlism) has the potential to transform the lives of the many Africans who have been ravaged by the continuing legacy of colonialism. The author argues that if the call for an African Renaissance is to have any lasting impact on the African condition, it must be careful to avoid taking the essentialist positions advocated by earlier ideological movements such as negritude. The essay contends that the call for an African Renaissance is an important effort which needs to be adopted by Africans beyond the borders of South Africa.

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