Les Bons Ressentiments is out March 2 in bookstores. A small bombshell in the life of postcolonial ideas, where Elgas dissects the malaise with as much freedom of thought as he looked at his native country, Senegal, in his first book A god and his morals published by Présence africaine. This compatriot and friend of Goncourt 2021, Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, returns to it on the history of the thwarted journeys of the African intellectual with the Paris of letters, and calls vigorously to get out of alienation and resentment on both sides. to look to the future without focusing on the relationship between victim and executioner. Subtitled Essai sur le malaise postcolonial, this book is published by Éditions Riveneuve in the pocket collection Pépites, which contains several not to be missed including, speaking of African intellectual life, Bayo Ndoye’s essay on the philosopher Paulin Houtondji , prefaced by Souleymane Bachir Diagne.

In the meantime, let’s read Elgas, and first, below, his tribune, which sets the tone of his work, prefaced by Sophie Bessis, a small stone in the pool of “French-African” relations, signed by a daring thirty-something.

It is the story of a painful captivity. French-speaking African intellectuals, artists and writers have all at some point in their careers been accused of being in the pay of France. Docile. Alienated. Whether it’s Léopold Sédar Senghor, academician, poet and first president of post-independence Senegal, Yambo Ouologuem, Prix Renaudot 1968, or Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, Prix Goncourt 2021, all had to undergo this disqualification trial.

Because recognized, awarded, read in France. They are examples among many others of an old and fratricidal quarrel, of a long intellectual and identity malaise. It all started well though. The much-praised break with France initially brought hope, a liberating energy that launched the dynamics of independence. In the 1970s, there was a postcolonial momentum theorized among others by Edward Saïd, a Palestinian-American thinker, who criticized the deviation of the French Enlightenment in the colonial enterprise, without ever denying the opportunity that the philosophy of the Enlightenment represents, and what they found of universal human rights. However, interpreted hastily, especially in France, decolonial thought is in a logic of rupture. The original current of thought is over time perverted in favor of a logic that is more determined to track down enemies than to seek alternatives.

This drift condemned an entire continent to lock itself in a hunt for the “insane” which could only lead to a chronic resentment against France. The logic of the proponents of this new version of decolonization is that of a helplessness that turns into vanity, tackling the scheme of the scapegoat to conceal its intellectual bankruptcy. While France is today the subject of violent rejection on the continent, it is important to understand how the identity escalation has endorsed a necrosis of ideas for the benefit of the most regressive and populist forces. True of Burkina as of Mali, this anti-French front however hides more unfathomable and unavowable links with the ex-colonizer: France remains at the heart of everything, and very often, it finances the story against itself. Let us thus point to the deep nature of the wound: the state of captivity of decolonial thinkers in uncomfortable situations. And for good reason, a majority of French-speaking African intellectuals are themselves captive to the mentoring, even the patronage of their former colonial guardian.

Writers and artists – suspected of betraying their community – feel obliged at some point in their careers to turn against France, this executioner to which their glory is so linked. Illusion of an emancipation still enclosed in what it claims to dismiss, at the risk of being a posture, even a sham. This is the pattern of a decolonial rent. Breaking the deadlock therefore requires offering a different perspective. It seems urgent to shed harsh light on the misuse of the decolonization process, and to warn against the risk of losing its vital energy, confiscated by a repetitive and ultimately sterile anti-Francism. To campaign therefore for a cold, lucid, empathetic gaze on colonization, not as an unsurpassable horizon, but as a period and superstructure whose heritage must be assumed, without absolution, but without obsession.