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On Mazrui's 'Black Orientalism': A Cautionary Critique

Biodun Jeyifo


This is a preliminary comment which will later be followed by a more substantial commentary on Skip Gates' "Wonders of the African World". In this initial comment, I wish to take issue with the morality of Professor Ali Mazrui's hatchet job on the series. I am very reasonably assured that the series WILL get the serious, tough-minded but objective criticism which it - and any object or text of cultural production - deserves from scholars in the fields of African and African-American Studies. My assurance on this score comes from my intimate knowledge of the caliber of minds and intellects at work in these fields - for at least the last thirty years. Professor Mazrui seems unaware of, or indifferent to this fact, otherwise he couldn't have so easily and breezily substituted what he himself calls "cheap rhetoric and denunciations" for rigorous, informed criticism in his two commentaries on "Wonders of the African World." In this piece I show how Mazrui does this and I ask for critical debate that combines passion with integrity. In a later piece, I shall offer my own commentary on "Wonders of the African World."

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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