Reading for Independence: The Figure of Ethiopia and the New Africa

Roy Kay

in The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780813037325
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813041582 | DOI:
Reading for Independence: The Figure of Ethiopia and the New Africa

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This chapter focuses on the role figural readings of Psalm 68:31 play in articulating discourses of African nationalism, Pan-Africanism, Afro-Asiatic mythologies, and African independence. It maps two different trajectories. One is from Delany to Garvey and the development of the theo-political, national, and racial romantic idea of “Africa for Africans.” Advocates of missionary emigrationism, Delany purchased land in Africa anticipating black emigration and Garvey planned a mass migration of black people to Africa to remake it into a modern black Christian empire. The other trajectory, represented by Du Bois and Hansberry, situates African independence within the twentieth-century struggles of the color line, the oppressed and the oppressor, and the colonized and the colonizer. Whereas Delany and Garvey stay within the grammar of missionary emigrationism and its conceit of African dependency, Du Bois and Hansberry see Africans as the agents of their own liberation and as possible agents of human freedom in general.

Keywords: Africa for Africans; African independence; color line; Delany; Du Bois; figural reading; Garvey; Hansberry; Psalm 68:31; racial romanticism

Chapter.  13201 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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