The colonist/colonizer is the European who has settled in and taken control over an African country. Fanon will often talk about the group of colonizers as “the colonist,” referring to the entire force of the group or to the identity of the group as a whole. In Fanon’s argument, the colonist creates both his own identity and the identity of the colonized. He does so by dividing the world into two and saying the colonized are evil or subhuman. In the French-Algerian context Fanon discusses, the French are the colonists.
The indigenous African people whose land is settled and controlled by European colonists. As with “the colonist,” Fanon will often refer to the colonized as both an individual and as a group of all those subjected to colonial authority. In the French-Algerian context Fanon discusses, the Algerians are the colonized.
The colonized intellectual is a colonized person who has been educated, usually by the colonists, and often resides in the urban areas within a colony, usually along the coasts. The colonized intellectual has a precarious position between colonist and colonized, sometimes wanting to align with or imitate the colonist and sometimes wanting to empower or stand alongside the colonized. Fanon describes a multi-stage process in which the intellectual must unlearn the European values he has been taught—foremost among them the value that says Europe is superior to Africa—and come to a national consciousness alongside the other colonized, joining the anticolonial fight.
The national bourgeoisie are the native Africans who, after independence, often assume the authority of the colonists. They are a “coastal elite,” meaning they have the wealth and run the industries associated with the big cities along the African coast. Fanon calls the “national bourgeoisie” both “immature” and “unnecessary.” They are immature because, unlike the colonial bourgeoisie, they have neither the resources nor the experience to properly rule the national economy. They are unnecessary because, simply replicating the colonial exploitation of power, they do not advance a nation into a phase of liberation. They must be opposed in order for a new, genuine national consciousness to emerge.
The popular leader is a charismatic man, usually a patriot of the anticolonial fight, whom the national bourgeoisie rely upon to inspire the confidence of the rural parts of a country after independence. By investing in a popular leader, the national bourgeoisie exhibits a totalitarian tendency, aiming for a sort of dictatorship in which, like under colonialism, the rural masses comply with authority because of violence or the threat of violence.
The Wretched of the Earth Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Wretched of the Earth is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.