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Mbembe and the Post-Colonial Theory

Achille Mbembe is an African theorist who mainly focuses on the post-colonial Africa. In his writings, he uses an analytical perspective to indulge and examine the power relationships and its evolution from the primitive time. In his 1992 article, ‘Provisional Notes on the Postcolony’ he defines the notion of ‘postcolony' as the particular focus on the societies emerging from the experience of and the violence associated with colonization. In his view, Postcolony is a chaotic system that extends its ruling style from the European colonial rulers.

His extensive study is essential in revealing the power relations between the rulers and their subjects in the contemporary African society. He explores these relationships by focusing on the government brutality in various African states. Africa is unreasonable, dark and mad society where leaders and the subjects depict hostility and animosity of the highest order. The antagonism hinders all forms of development leaving the untamed continent ‘eat itself’ and collapse in madness, misery and self-destruction. This gives the Western societies at an advantage to penetrate, conquer and reinvent its gaze in the continent through technology and reason.

Mbembe asserts that the academic lenses used to observe the African continent comes from the Western ethnocentric. Therefore, he gives an internal exploration of the continent by looking at ‘the harshness of its destiny, its power and its eccentricities'. To further explain these powers, he advances the severity of slavery and the prevailing principles of inequality and government viciousness. He uses the term ‘commandment’ to explain the colonial rationality of brutalization, force, aggression and domination visible in the modern African civilization. The state uses violence as a weapon to propagate inequality and as a foundational and an existential principle embedded in its governance.

The African man is an ex-slave compelled to obey strict dictatorial orders and confront violent death sentences. He substantiates these assertions by providing evidence from Kenya and Cameroon. In Kenya, the police force brutally punish citizen for the failure of observing some state laws that are not known to them, such as failing to stand attention when the national flag is being lowered. In Cameroon, the government devours its citizens by open executions where twelve armed soldier shot at an individual in public. Postcolony is the elaboration of the state of violence in the African continent that has taken the face of a new form of death. It is a fight for power embedded in the government with a principle of brutality and violence.

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