Le Temps Reprend Son Cours [1]

Walter Rodney’s well researched and trenchant historical, sociological, and socio-economic account, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, was published in 1972 which made the year 2022 its 50th anniversary. The seminal book takes us through the institutionalisation of colonialism, the partitioning of peoples, the imposition of languages and destruction of knowledge and cultures, and how they had repercussions in the moment of 1971/72, and continue to have in the present, 50 years on. Rodney also takes us through the era of decolonial movements and does not fail to call out the generation of African leaders who became complicit to the former colonial rulers and their policies of continuous exploitation of their citizens. It is the dependencies on and constraints imposed by global economic and political structures that frames and guides the myths and constructs of “development” and “underdevelopment.” Half a decade post independence, these dependencies continue to destabilize and create political upheavals in the so called post-colonial nation states. 

In the context of Côte d'Ivoire, similar entanglements could be witnessed that have resulted in a coup d’etat, a rebellion, and a post election war that have robbed precious years from a newly independent nation to rebuild and reclaim an independent identity. Meanwhile, turmoil and unrest also served as an excuse for the ex-colonial powers to intervene and claim legitimacy. When asking the question – How can we imagine a Post-(Under) development world? – we are searching for the knowledge systems and tools that have been inherited and emerge from the land and its people, agricultural, culture, religion, language, and architecture that offer options and possibilities to fracture these formations. In this vein, the emergence of Nouchi and the musical genres of Zouglou leading to the origin of  Coupé-decalé in the midst of the political and military crisis became the voice of a generation navigating these precarious grounds. Coupé-decalé, not only as a dance or movement but  in an expansive way also as a mindset in its discursive potential. Channeling their concerns, and subverting the system towards their needs and aspirations in a medium that promptly gained popularity across political divisions within the state and beyond in the continent. From the sociopolitical breaks in the region and their chain reaction effect, to a Nouchi re-appropriation charging with new meanings and logics the imposed containers of colonialism. Coupé-decalé as a mindset represents the opportunity of a collective envisioning and crafting of bonne ambience, to tackle the colonial hangover and move away and delink to paths of wealth and joy. 

The research, exhibition, performance and discourse project UNRAVELING THE (UNDER-)DEVELOPMENT COMPLEX takes its cue from, and celebrates Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, while asking the question: How can we imagine a Post-(Under) development world? By relating Rodney’s seminal work to the dependency theorists, as much as to the post-development advocates like Ivan Illich, Gustavo Esteva, Wolfgang Sachs, Arturo Escobar or Majid Rahnema, to the struggles of ecofeminists of degrowth like Maria Mies, Amaia Pérez Orozco, Chandra Talpade Mohanty among many others, this project is a daring effort to analyse the status quo and imagine a world that doesn’t exist in the binary of “development” and “underdevelopment”.

The post in Post-(Under)development is not meant as a negation of development in the sense of “an event constituting a new stage in a changing situation,” but a breaking free from an ideology of development that is framed around a gradient of colonial power and ingrained in colonial capitalist structures of dependency. Post-(Under)development is the negation of the subordination and denigration that is connoted in and with “under”, it is the emancipation from the imperialist logic of extortion and profit of one at the detriment of the other. It is an imaginary that embraces inter- and intra-dependencies as modes of being together in a world in which our well-being, our breath is contingent on the well-being and breath of the other, and the plethora of knowledges, arts, sciences, technologies, philosophies that facilitate our situated being in the world with and in relation to others. With this project we aim at shaping a pluriverse of interdependent imaginations, visions, and strategies, away from capitalist and industrial productivity and toward transformative conviviality.

The envisioning of such a world does not only require a theoretical thinking and framing but also the performativity of various notions of what some call progress. With these invocations, we invite academics, poets, artists, scholars, musicians,  creative and cultural practitioners to share an imaginary of interdependent subjectivities that have been inherited and have emerged in language, poetry, music, art, theory, and aesthetics.


From the poem "Black Star" by Bernard Dadié