The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
An excellent biography of Frantz Fanon marks his continuing influence on the anti-colonialist struggle
Frantz Fanon was a key figure who rose to prominence during the heady revolutionary years of decolonisation following WWII.
In the wake of the Cuban revolution the world appeared to be on the brink of radical transformation, particularly in Latin America and Africa where progressive forces appeared to be in the ascendant.
Fanon was born in French Martinique in 1925 and studied in France, qualifying as a psychiatrist before going to work in Algeria.
His two seminal works Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched Of The Earth were required reading for any revolutionary in the 1960s.
Fanon's life and writings have inspired anti-colonial and liberation movements worldwide ever since.
As a black man growing up in a French colony and later through his psychiatric practice in Algeria, he gained a deep understanding of how colonialism and exploitation deformed the minds and culture of the oppressed.
He incorporated a Marxist approach to his thinking but his work was characterised by a profound anger and a belief that it would be the colonial oppressed and marginalised that would form the new revolutionary forces in society.
He became an active participant in the Algerian war and a leading member of the national liberation movement FLN and he is still revered in the north African state for his key contributions.
Sadly, his two key works have been badly translated into English and have led to much misunderstanding about his views. Much of his other writing has not been translated at all.
As a result, Fanon has often been portrayed as an advocate of violence and his ideas have been oversimplified. Such a reductionist vision of his work ignores the subtlety of his understanding of the colonial system.
That's why this book, first published in 2002 and now updated, is a valuable and comprehensive introduction to the man and his work.
It is not a straightforward biography but embeds Fanon firmly within the contemporary political and historical arena.
David Macey is certainly someone who knows Fanon and the context extremely well and he writes lucidly and informatively.
For anyone interested in the Algerian war, colonialism or Fanon himself, this really is a must-read.