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The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters$
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Roy Kay

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813037325

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813037325.001.0001

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

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

(p.137) 6 Reading for Independence: The Figure of Ethiopia and the New Africa
The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters

Roy Kay

University Press of Florida

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

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