My journey as a historian, writer, consultant and Pan-Africanist activist in detail.
Personal awareness and interdisciplinary training
Amzat Boukari-Yabara was born in Cotonou on July 16, 1981, to a Martinican mother from Rivière-Pilote and a Beninese father from Aledjo. It was in 1997 that he discovered the Pan-Africanism of Kwame Nkrumah during a family stay in Accra, Ghana. Influenced by the Martinican poet, writer and politician Aimé Césaire, he completed a literary baccalaureate and then a first cycle in preparatory classes (Khâgne) in Paris. In 2005, he obtained a master’s degree in modern Brazilian history from Sorbonne University with a research thesis devoted to the indigenous policy of the Brazilian government in the twentieth century.
Subsequently, Amzat Boukari-Yabara enrolled at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) for a Master in Social Sciences, specializing in Religious and Social Sciences. He is interested in the philosophy and socio-anthropology of African and Afro-American religions. During his training, he was influenced by classic authors and dissidents of black critical thought such as Zora Neale Hurston, Claudia Jones, WEB DuBois, Cedric Robinson, Harold Cruse or Jean-Marc Éla.
After a stay in London where he worked on therapeutic approaches to the sacred in the daily life of members of the Rastafari community, he decided to devote his research to the figure of the historian Walter Rodney, author of Groundings with my Brothers. This work allows him to discover the Marxist analysis of the Caribbean historian CLR James, the political philosophy of the Ujamaa of the Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, the revolutionary praxis of Amilcar Cabral, the anti-colonialist criticism of Frantz Fanon and the vision of the strategist. Zanzibari politician Abdulrahman Babu.
"I did not do a thesis, it was my thesis that made me"
In 2007, then graduated with a master’s degree in social sciences, Amzat Boukari-Yabara began a doctoral thesis in African history and civilizations at EHESS. In order to deepen his research into the work and life of Walter Rodney, he travels regularly to Tanzania, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, United States; and became one of the first researchers to explore the Walter Rodney archive at the Robert W. Woodruff Library at the University Center of Atlanta.
During his trips to the United States (Atlanta, Chicago, New York), he trained with several personalities in the fight against colonialism and apartheid who had known Rodney, these stays also allowed him to acquire a mastery of African-American political history in the militant tradition of figures such as Ella Baker, John Henrik Clarke, Fred Hampton or even Modibo Kadalie and Assata Shakur.
On December 15, 2010, Amzat Boukari-Yabara defended a 707-page thesis combining history, anthropology, economics, geopolitics and political philosophy based on Rodney’s work on the impact of the slave trade , capitalism and development. The thesis addresses current historiographical and political controversies (colonization, dependence, debt and reparations) and Rodney’s contribution to the service of revolutionary Pan-Africanism.
In June 2011, the young doctor also obtained a Diploma of Latin American Studies (DELA) at the Institute of Higher Studies of Latin America (IHEAL) where he was able to train for a year on the political history of Haiti and Venezuela, on political science and gender and development approaches in order to build a critical reading of decoloniality inspired by the works of Enrique Dussel and Walter Mignolo.
In July 2011, Amzat Boukari-Yabara moved to Canada where he worked at the University of Montreal as the first postdoctoral researcher of the Interuniversity Study and Research Group on African Societies (GIERSA). Devoting himself to writing a popular and visual history of West African independence, he is also a member of the organizing committee of the congress of the Canadian Association for African Studies (ACÉA) at Laval University. of Quebec in May 2012.
An activist with multiple lives
Since 2010, Amzat Boukari-Yabara has participated in numerous colloquiums, conferences and academic seminars in his capacity as a researcher. However, the Beninese historian devotes himself to contemporary pan-Africanist and anti-imperialist struggles by making himself available to many militant groups. Thus, in 2011, he collaborated with the Research and Initiatives Group for the Liberation of Africa (GRILA) of Aziz Salmone Fall, in Montreal. This experience allows him to train in the analysis of African and international political news by contributing to the weekly radio program of GRILA Amandla! on CKUT 90.3 and by writing the daily column We ask for Africa! on the CKIN 106.3 FM radio.
Passionate about the visual, musical and cinematographic arts that accompany popular resistance, he has also been engaged since 2011 as a scientific advisor with the Protéa association which organizes the history documentary film festivals of Martinique and Reunion whose themes touch to the history of resistance and abolition, to colonial history and to contemporary struggles. He has also contributed to the projects of hip hop artists Elom 20ce (Arctivism) and Rocé (compilation Par les Damné.e.s de la terre, des Voices de Lutte 1969-1988).
At the end of 2012, considering that knowledge is the first form of power and nourished by the example and the association of organic intellectuals who accelerated the fall of colonialism and apartheid, Amzat Boukari-Yabara decided to join the League Pan-African – UMOJA. In 2016, he became its Federal Secretary General and participated in the development of this organization in Africa and in the Diaspora.
A supporter of participatory popular education, Professor Boukari-Yabara has been supporting the HIDAYA association, which is a training center on African worlds, since its launch in 2015, for the development of an alternative pedagogy promoting social cohesion and an afropositive vision of the world. Engaged among the writers for the General History of Africa by UNESCO, the Professor also played a driving role in the launch of the African Political School (EPA) in 2018. He teaches there in particular political history and African international relations.
Since September 2020, Dr Amzat Boukari-Yabara has also been supporting the training of the Pan-African Unitary Dynamics (DUP) which aims to bring together and unify the African organizations of the continent and the diaspora around an ideological base. It also collaborates with the Bandung Spirit network which updates the issues of non-alignment and the Tricontinental.
Independent researcher and political activist, combining theory and practice, prolific speaker, he is also a writer, author notably of Nigeria (2013), Mali (2014), Africa Unite! A History of Pan-Africanism (2014), Kwame Nkrumah (2016), Walter Rodney. A committed historian (1942-1980) (2018) and co-edited The Empire That Doesn’t Want to Die. A history of Françafrique (2021).
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Publication of "The Empire that does not want to die, a history of Françafrique", Seuil
In collective with three other co-directors, the book is a benchmark study of 1000 pages on French neocolonialism.
Accompany the Dynamique Unitaire Panafricaine (DUP)
Takes part in the launch of the Ecole Politique Africaine (EPA) where he teaches
Teaches political history and African international relations
Publication of "Walter Rodney, a committed historian (1942-1980) by Présence Africaine
Becomes Federal Secretary General of the Pan-African League - Umoja (LP-U)
Preface and coordinate the book "Kwame Nkrumah" at CETIM Editions
Start of collaboration with the Bandung network
Start of collaboration with the Tricontinentale network
Support for the launch of the Hidaya association, a Ujamaa experience
Publication of "Africa Unite, a history of pan-Africanism" by Editions La Découverte
Reissued in 2017, 2019 and 2021
Publication of "Mali" by Editions De Boek
Publication of "Nigeria" by Editions de Boek
Membership of the Pan-African League- Umoja (LP-U)
Diploma in Latin American Studies
IHEAL Paris III Sorbonne
Join the Protéa association
Scientific advisor and speaker in schools, colleges and high schools during screenings-debates (more than a hundred)
Doctoral thesis defense in African history and civilization
Thesis dedicated to Walter Rodney with the congratulations of the jury