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Afropessimism is an important issue for all Africans as well as for anyone interested in African development and socio-cultural analysis. Although there are bits and pieces and research works on Afropessimism, none has as yet brought it all together in a coherent way. When we decided to undertake this examination of Afropessimism, however, we discovered that it is more complex than first meets the eye, because there is more than one perspective on this phenomenon. In fact, there seem to be at least five different views on Afropessimism, which can be represented as in Table 1. Views 1 and 2 reject the very existence of Afropessimism, seeing it as an unjustified 'Western construct'. In contradistinction to this, Views 3, 4 and 5 see Afropessimism as justified. However, Views 3, 4 and 5 do not see Africa or Afropessimism in the same way; nor do they conceptualise the 'solution' to Afropessimism in the same way. For all of these reasons, it becomes important that the phenomenon of Afropessimism be examined. This Critical Arts issue on Afropessimism should be seen as a small step on the road to an intellectual conversation around this phenomenon. Undeniably, Africans have inherited socio-political institutions from other cultures, mostly unrelated to the African past and framework of knowledge production; as have African intellectuals eager to articulate alternative, contextual insider knowledge about the continent. Now, more than ever, Africa is in need of a new contextual development for the days ahead. This is so important today, because the African nations as we now know them have inherited patterns of thought and models of knowledge production that are not only foreign to the continent's historical experience, but that have also shown their limitations in their own milieu of emergence. Because it is at these crossroads of socio-political, economic and theological ideologies that both the discourses and practices of representation of Afropessimism have emerged, we are certain that it is also on that same field that potential optimism about Africa will surface. Though we have no consensus today about Afropessimism, this volume of Critical Arts raises many key questions which, for Africa's sake, demand answers. Generally, we admit that the naturalised low ranking of the continent or the validity of the measurement criteria by which it is judged should be re-evaluated in taking into account some of the values specific to Africa. Therefore, the articles of this special issue of Critical Arts can be seen as a small intervention in trying to denaturalise the measurement-standards used, and to begin unpacking the genealogy of a discourse that is so undermining of Africa's future in a world where image and impression management means so much.

September 1
Critical Arts Projects
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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