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Davids, M.F. (1996). Frantz Fanon: the struggle for inner freedom. Free Associations, 6(2):205-234.

(1996). Free Associations, 6(2):205-234

Frantz Fanon: the struggle for inner freedom

M. Fakhry Davids

The life of Frantz Fanon is the stuff of myth and legend. Here is a native from the colonies who refuses to behave like a colonised man, yet does not feel himself to be above the struggle with colonialism. He is at once fiery, eloquent, and passionate, but it turns out that thought is his real weapon. His discourse is as powerful, penetrating, and disturbing as it is articulate, yet there is little righteous self-pity in it. He is a man who takes himself seriously, and expects to be taken seriously; also, he appears to demand of himself that lofty words be matched by decisive deeds. Upon qualifying from one of the most progressive psychiatric trainings in France, he takes up a senior appointment in an Algeria soon to be in the throes of a vicious war of independence against the French. By day he is clinical director of the largest mental hospital in the country, treating, among others, French soldiers; at night he treats the victims of French colonial brutality. Soon he becomes involved with the liberation movement and resigns his post to join the struggle. He becomes a leading member of the FLN (the Algerian National Liberation Front), edits their newspaper, and is roving ambassador in the campaign for national liberation across Africa. Two unsuccessful attempts are made on his life, but within six years, at the age of 36, it is leukaemia that finally kills him. This martyr of the struggle is given a hero's burial in ‘free Algeria’ near the Tunisian border. His legacy is three books and numerous editorials and articles which are rapidly recognised as the authentic voice of an oppressed Third World desperate for dignity and freedom (Sartre, 1967; Sutton, 1971).

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