This biography of Malcolm was more than a decade in the making. It was written by Manning Marable, who died on April 1, 2011, shortly before the publication of his reevaluation of Malcolm’s life and politics. Marable was one of the foremost scholars of Black politics in the United States. Here Marable has crafted a compelling intellectual history of Malcolm in which he shows how Malcolm’s thoughts grew out of social and religious movements that first emerged within the black community during the nineteenth century.
A Critical Reevaluation
Marable structures his reevaluation of Malcolm X’s life, as a critical deconstruction of Malcolm X’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As told to Alex Haley. Marable’s reevaluation required questioning the redemption story that forms the heart of The Autobiography. The story of the Autobiography, fashioned in partnership with the liberal republican Alex Haley and released after Malcolm’s death, often falls into motifs of decline and then salvation, which date back to earlier slave narratives and stories of Christian redemption, examples ranging from Olaudah Equiano to Frederick Douglas. When Malcolm agreed to work on the Autobiography in 1963 his objective was to present to the reader “the transformative power of the apostle Elijah Muhammad, who had taken him from a life of criminality and drugs to one of sobriety and commitment” (p. 260). In contrast, Marable historicizes Malcolm’s intellectual development, showing not only the disjunctions but also the commonalities between Malcolm’s earlier beliefs and his later insights. Marable also firmly locates Malcolm’s ideas within the wider African American intellectual tradition.
Looking at events since January 2012, it has at times been hard to tell if we are witnessing a simple pricing dispute or a total divorce between the newest neighbors in northeast Africa.
There is some truth to Alex De Waal’s recent statement at the Royal Africa Society that “it all looked so good just over a year ago.” A year ago there was a euphoria of independence, but few hard decisions had been made about the future relationship of the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan. Omar al-Bashir, and a cadre of his close associates within the National Congress Party, surely believed that they would be rewarded with a peace dividend for their decision to allow the South to progress smoothly towards independence; while, the leaders and people of South Sudan, nestled securely within the warm glow of international applause celebrating the victory of their liberation struggle, undoubtedly believed that the exercise of sovereignty was the first step on a long journey towards a better standard of living and national self-respect. Continue reading →
Just when we thought the Somali crisis couldn’t get any more complicated, it did.
The effects of Kenya’s recent intervention in Somalia – both for Kenya, and the Somalis themselves – remains the subject of much speculation. Some question whether Kenya will achieve its war aims. Others ask if military intervention can stabilize the desperate political and humanitarian situation in southern Somalia. Many more openly ponder whether Al-Shabaab will respond by striking targets within Kenya’s major metropolitan centers, thereby widening the regional stakes of a conflict that is already deeply complex. Continue reading →