African discourse has been dominated for almost a century by three politico-intellectual paradigms: anticolonial nationalism, various reinterpretations of Marxism, and a Pan-African sphere of influence that gave special place to two types of solidarity—a racial and transnational solidarity, and an international and anti-imperialist solidarity. In addressing the question, “Who is African and who is not?,” the author reminds readers that traces of Africa cover the face of the capitalist and Islamic worlds. The precolonial history of African societies is a history of colliding cultures and can hardly be understood outside the paradigm of itinerancy, mobility, and displacement. In addition to the forced migrations of the previous centuries, there have also been migrations driven by colonization. Today, millions of people of African origin are citizens of various countries of the world—a historical phenomenon he calls worlds in movement. Awareness of the interweaving of the here and there; embracing, with full knowledge of the facts, strangeness, foreignness, and remoteness; the ability to recognize one’s face in that of a foreigner and to make the most of the traces of remoteness in closeness; to domesticate the unfamiliar; to work with what seem to be opposites—it is this cultural, historical, and aesthetic sensitivity that underlies the term Afropolitanism—a political and cultural stance in relation to the nation, to race, and to the issue of difference in general. Today, many Africans live outside Africa or live on the continent but not necessarily in their countries of birth. They have had the opportunity to experience several worlds. They are developing a transnational culture the author calls “Afropolitan.”

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