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“Petrification” – excessive strong adherence to tradition……..being unAfrican

Fanon on Petrification

Douglas Ficek (in Living Fanon, p. 76), writing on Fanon and petrification, reminds one that, by “petrification”, Fanon meant an excessively strong adherence to tradition in the face of the coloniser’s culture, which brings about a kind of paralysis or “immobility” of the culture of the colonised, more especially so in rural areas. This socio-cultural “petrification” expresses itself as a commitment “to the old ways, to the superstitions and rituals that, however fantastic, offer outlets for their profound anger … they effectively distract themselves from the hard realities of colonialism and this ultimately benefits the colonisers, the architects of petrification”. (Ficek, p. 76)

The last sentence is odd but the meaning stays. POSTNOTE : I keep thinking of the last sentence “ultimately benefits the colonisers” in the present and as applied to Nigeria it benefits the neo-colonialists – it benefits patriarchy, in short those in power at whatever period in time – I think!

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  1. james mc donald

    Castles and end up.One in charge,the other indefence.I like the knowing that what is teached is to manipulate.I like the defense of Socialism,true and without the better.Humanity is air our stand on this ouir world.

  2. Fanon was incredibly insightful and wise in his observations. This point is well taken that “petrification” accomplishes only what benefits the colonizer. The the colonized remain in the place (both physical and mental) where they best serve the needs of the colonizer and not their own empowerment. They are too busy wrestling with a past that cannot change and a future they won’t let change.

    Much of the world inhabited by people of color remains colonized by the inhabitants themselves through this same process. Europeans are the most used tool of this reality, but they too are just as enslaved as those for whom they hold captive in worldviews that are productive only to the upper class social manipulators.

  3. Mia Nikasimo

    Interestingly put! At least through this we can understand the core of, “Wretched of the Earth” in which Fanon does an expose of the psychological state of the colonised under colonialism. The question used to be, why are we still holding on to its pain? Why? Answer: Petrification. Indeed neocolonialism stems from the same source. Now, we over petrify ourselves, with the same traditions -our own, steeped, as we are, in western education and outlooks sometimes so much so we re-colonialise ourselves in the process.