Fanonian Afghanistan

By- Omar Sadr, New Delhi

Coming from Afghanistan, a country that presents a neat picture of internal colonization and routine use of violence, Frantz Omar Fanon’s book refreshed my thinking and thoughts. Though there is much spatial distance between Fanon and us but Fanon’s logic and thinking touches my experiences in context of South Asia in particular and the Global South in general. It seems that Fanon presents a timeless truth. What is there in Fanon that fascinates me the most and captures my imagination? It seems that he provides me a language to explain the social and political condition of the contemporary society.

Afghanistan is a unique example of internal colonialism. The Barakzai Dynasty hegemonized the Persian culture of Khurasan (late name of current Afghanistan). They transferred the Pashton tribes to the north, centre and west of Afghanistan. There is no difference between the European settlements in Africa and these settlement in the North of Afghanistan. To consolidate their power in society, kings start to subvert the Persian language with Pashtu. Pashtu was imposed on people in schools and bureaucracy. This is what Fanon calls as dehumanization. The colonizer takes away the culture, heritage, history and language of colonized people. A feeling of complex inferiority has grown in the Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbiks and other nationalities in Afghanistan. Their political imaginations do not go higher than being a simple bureaucrat or a minister. To become president of the republic one need to be Pashtun. In terms of Fanon though the colonial structure has been demolished, but the postcolonial institutions (Republic of Afghansitan) still carry the cultural and psychological experiences of the colonial period (Barakzai Dynasty).

Fanon, fabulously puts that “The settler makes history and is conscious of making it”. The settlers identify themselves with the mother country not the colony. The colonizer says that s/he is the continuation of the mother country. Barakzai kings and elites manufactured a new history for Afghanistan and marginalized the diverse and rich civilizational history of the country. This process of history making is very much linked with the project of nation and state building which was under supervision of Barakzai kings and elites.

Barakzai dynasty domination was an absolute practice of violence. As Fanon suggested that enfacement of violence is possible though violence, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbiks and many other nations in Afghanistan revolt against the internal colonial domination. The civil war 1992 till 1996 and resistance from 1996- 2001 was a manifestation of the frustration of the colonized nationalities in Afghanistan. They wanted to revolt against their inferiority and claim their agency.

In the international dimension, Afghanistan fought a war against USSR. This war was celebrated by many people around the world. But what they receive at the end of this war? This is the thing: destruction of their country and culture, killings and dehumanization. The west won a war which as fought by Afghanistanis and many other people. Just as Fanon says that Europe built itself on African’s shoulders, now the US claims victory, civilization and ‘end of history’, which gains through blood of Afghanistanis and their fellow third world people. Then as Fanon asked for reparation we shall ask for our portion in the victory.

Ohh yeah! Fanon really captures my analysis!

But, I should not let Fanon colonize my imagination.

I should recall the negative implication of reverse use of violence from the 1990s. Afghanistan society is a fractured society. Trauma is internal to all most every citizen of Afghanistan and the country is transformed to the black days of underdevelopment.

(The writer is a doctoral scholar of International Relations at the South Asia University. His research interests include culture studies, nationalism and politics of Afghanistan. He has published widely across international journals, the recent one being from Routledge. For his personal blog Click Here)

Views of the writer are his personal.

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