Afro-pessimist discourse as a war song against the enemy, Africa

  • A.M. Gahutu
Keywords: Afro-pessimism, social discourse, war rhetoric, metaphor, intellectual elites.


Afro-pessimism is a totalitarian discourse that leaves nothing to chance. It  mobilizes the whole world to its end, starting with those who are likely to repudiate it: the Africans in general, and the Africanist intellectuals in particular. In this whole business, it‘ll stop at nothing to get what it wants. On the one hand, there is  seduction which assures Africa of the good intentions of the Western World. Seduction is also to be found in this strategy consisting in waging war without looking like: the use of irony for example embodies disruption between speech and action. On the other hand, there is repression targeting those who do not conform to its watchword. The intellectual elites, aspiring to the freedom of thought, shall be the first victim of this resentment-rousing (self-hatred) repression. Concerning Africa, the accusation of the victim can be excessively violent, to a racialist extent as in the example offered by Stephen Smith.1 Besides, we can identify omnipresent war, both thematic and rhetorical. A close look will discover that war rhetoric reinforces the elements that are typical to primary Afro-pessimism, that is, disease and death; which leads us to the conclusion that Afro-pessimist discourse is amazingly coherent. The plight of Africa is described as a tragic fatality before which nothing can be done. Desolation befits the continent given its natural tendency to all kinds of anarchy and excesses. This judgment which leaves no chance to Africa raises an opposite discourse denouncing syncretic and simplistic pessimism in which Africa is shrouded. In response to this ―unsavory‖ optimism, Afro-pessimism sets order in its arguments and paternalism replaces detachment: ―we need to stop  misrepresenting African realities, mixing what should be with what is[…] the present has no future for the continent. The freedom of tone is the freedom of urgency, with no disrespect for any one.‖ (Smith 11)

Key words: Afro-pessimism, social discourse, war rhetoric, metaphor, intellectual elites.


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print ISSN: 2305-2678