By Robert W. July
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Extra info for An African Voice: The Role of the Humanities in African Independence
Wright, from his American background, was no less critical of either cultural or political imperialism, but he also supported the validity of Western values and institutions in a modern world, to be applied wherever they appeared useful for man's universal benefit. Thus, for Wright, rational thought would be better exemplified by an African protesting racism than by a European racial bigot. Was there no reconciliation of these two antithetical positions? In pressing his case for westernization, Wright seemed to rebuff any surviving anachronisms of African culture, however romantic or appealing.
That day he would talk on the theme of black culture and colonialism. Sitting quietly during the introduction, Cesaire seemed to young James Baldwin as bland and benign in manner, vaguely like a middleaged schoolteacher. All that changed once Cesaire began to speak, said Baldwin, who was reporting on the conference proceedings as a journalist. " Cesaire began without equivocation. What do we delegates have in common, he asked rhetorically? It is not our common color but our common experience as a colonial people.
In our traditional African society we were individuals within a community. We took care of the community and the community took care of us. " Colonialism introduced different and wrongheaded attitudes, continued Nyerere, such as the principle of private land ownership, which 22 The Crisis of Independence led to inequality and the creation of a class of social parasites. We must therefore return to traditional customs of landholding based not on ownership but utility, he pointed out. We must create an African socialism, an ethic by which each individual places social welfare ahead of personal profit.