During the 1960s into the 1970s, the writings of men such as Marcus Garvey, CLR James, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Frantz Fanon were among the many sources of information and inspiration for people of African origin around the world seeking liberation from oppression.
Fanon's book The Wretched of the Earth, published in 1961, was among the widely read books by young men seeking to assert themselves and free their people from oppression through what has become known as the Black Power movement.
Fanon wrote in this book of the victimisation of colonisation and called for the expelling of colonials from Algeria and other colonised countries. Fanon himself was born in Martinique and by the time he was 18 had to flee the island, having been labelled a dissident because he at that young age spoke out fearlessly against colonial racism against the black people in Martinique.
Fanon went to France, where he was educated, studying medicine and psychiatry before joining the army.
He in 1952 wrote his first book Black Skin, White Masks. The book explored the psychological effects of colonial subjugation on people identified as black. Fanon in 1954 got involved in the Algerian fight for independence, joining the national liberation front.
It has been said of Fanon that he defended the right for a colonised people to use violence to struggle for independence, arguing that human beings who are not considered as such should not be bound by principles that apply to humanity, in their attitude towards the coloniser.
Fanon succumbed to leukaemia when he was only 35 years old in 1961, but his writings and work reverberated throughout the world as countries fought for independence from Britain and other colonial powers.
The global Black Power movement, too, used Fanon as one of the power points in its fight to secure the rights and freedoms enjoyed by the whites, which were in places like the Caribbean the minority, but enjoying maximum benefits above the black people.
Fanon's name and work are today kept alive through the Frantz Fanon Foundation, directed by his daughter, Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France, who is its president.
She is in Trinidad this weekend attending the annual meeting of the Caribbean Philosophical Association at the UWI, St Augustine. The opening of the meeting took place on Thursday at the Daaga Auditorium.
The CPA was formed to support the free exchange of ideas and foster an intellectual community that is truly representative of the diversity of voices and perspectives that is paradigmatic of, but not limited to, the Caribbean. The CPA was founded on June 14, 2002 at the Centre for Caribbean Thought at the University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica.
The organisation comprises scholars and lay-intellectuals dedicated to the study and generation of ideas with a particular emphasis of encouraging South-South dialogue.
The founding members were George Belle, Anthony Bogues, Patrick Goodin, Lewis Gordon, Clevis Headley, Paget Henry, Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Charles Mills, and Supriya Nair. This year's meeting will see participants examining; Racial Capitalism and the Discourses of Native, Indo, Afro and Euro Caribbeans.
Fanon-Mendes-France took a few minutes to chat with the Express about her thoughts on where the peoples who gained independence from the colonists, particularly the British, French as well as black people in general are today. She is not very pleased and cautions that there is a recolonisation threatening and unless people act they may soon find that they have lost the freedoms the "fathers of liberalisation" fought for.
"I don't know if the young people today know or appreciate what the fathers of liberalisation did so that they can enjoy the freedoms they do today. These writings and teachings are not on the curriculum in France or other nations. From what I've heard they are not on the curriculum here either. The leaders of the liberated nations did not continue the work of the liberators and so the legacy has been forgotten," Fanon-Mendes-France said.
The writer also said she sees people in the so-called independent countries still being oppressed and denied even basic rights. This, Fanon-Mendes-France said, is not what her father and others who fought for the independence of the colonised countries intended. She also said that unless people open their eyes soon they will one day realise that they have been recolonised and are again living under oppression without the rights they have been taking for granted.
"These countries are independent, but the people are not independent. The people are still oppressed and living without the rights that had been hard fought for. We are seeing a recolonisation by economic strategy and oppression. Globalisation is a way to dominate people more and more, a way to eradicate all of their rights. It is very important to insist that the history of all these people who fought for our freedoms," Fanon-Mendes-France said.