- This is a collection of observations and meditations by Ghanaian Professor Emeritus (York University, Toronto) and philosopher Ato Sekyi-Otu on events, issues, people and ideas culled from recent history and the world, from the US and Canada to Ghana. If there is a persistent thread in these entries, it is this: Virtually all of them testify to the ironic truth of the saying that there is no place like home, no place, that is to say, which looks like the lodestar called home or comes close to approximating its promise of being a just space of human flourishing. Most of the entries are, therefore, harsh, particularly those on the USA. That is because that nation, in his view, has, in recent history, made a major contribution to rendering the world and every homestead we inhabit unhomely and sabotaging attempts to better it. But no one or place is spared, certainly not the author’s native land, Ghana. Canada appears intermittently in these pages in rather fragmentary and contrastive observations. That paucity of comments may be taken to be the complement the author pays to Canada as a place of relative civility and glimmers of decency in a mad and cruel world. It is a short work of predominantly gloomy pictures. But there are a few countervailing images and invocations of hope here and there. There are 166 entries of unequal lengths arranged around 14 headings. These epigrams are contrapuntal variations on the philosopher’s searing imprecation and visionary invocation: unfinished ode, resounding with intermittent fury, to the dawn of human existence set free from all tyrannizing enclosures.
This is the work of an unusually awesome intellect and flawless scholarship. As Ato himself may agree, if our scholars and writers have to do their work using the English language, then we of the neo-colonies are doing that language a whole lot of good. If the book was about nothing else than Professor Sekyi-Otu’s merciless dissection of the wretched story of the life and career of Kwasi Kwarteng, an arch-conservative member of the British Conservative Party, that alone makes the book a compelling read.
— The late, Ama Ata Aidoo,
author, poet, playwright and academic, author of
Changes: A Love Story and Dilemma of a Ghost
More precious, untimely observations from the most important black political philosopher writing in English. Read, learn, savor, be provoked, read again, repeat.
— Paul Gilroy,
author The Black Atlantic
The echoes of Fanon pervade this incisive analysis that spares no one, refuses any postulation of idyllic longings, and interrogates our responsibilities in every aspect of the histories that live within us. This work offers a powerful and incisive reflection on human freedom and responsibility in an affirmation of dignity that can only fully emerge upon recognition of the cruelty of the inhumanities that pervades our histories and their geographies. It is an existential call to lay bare so that we might understand the biting complexity of indignity and reach through its morass to discover the depths of our humanity no matter how deeply that humanity is assaulted. Homestead, Homeland, Home charts this journey with biting clarity and takes irony as a “vital organ of truth and justice” to the apogee of its power.
—Jacqueline M Martinez, Professor of Communication, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts
Arizona State University,
Vice-President, Caribbean Philosophical Association
I lost count of the number of times I laughed out loud reading this book and the number of times I had to put it down in chest-tightening anguish. Ato Sekyi-Otu long ago demonstrated that he was a first-rate scholar. With these meditations, though, these ‘peeves’ as he hilariously describes them, he reveals himself a member of an even more remarkable group – those who dare attempt to rouse a world lost in shadow gazing. Homestead, Homeland, Home dissects global society and reveals a malignant inhumanity. It is a challenge and resource for those who can be shaken and a damning indictment on those who will not. It is bracing, severe, funny, heartbreaking, brilliant and very, very cool.’
—Bryan Mukandi, Senior Research Fellow,
School of Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia
This is a book of peeves well worth peeving about. It is testimony from a great elder of political thought whose heartfelt commitments to dignity, freedom, justice, and humane existence irritate his soul as a witness to the continued cruelty, degradation, and double standards unleashed against the Damned of the Earth; it is erudite outrage at so many ignored opportunities to make good on political responsibility to build a better world, a world otherwise. Every sentence, every paragraph, every page, every chapter is a Sankofic demand against historic amnesia and an encomium to re-member and, in doing so, courageously embrace our shared responsibility to build institutions for the urgent repair of nothing short of humanity’s homestead in which we are, in Sekyi-Otu’s words, “compelled to recognize that only we can save ourselves.”
—Lewis R. Gordon, author of
Freedom, Justice, and Decolonization and
Fear of Black Consciousness
Homestead Homeland Home: Critical Reflections is political-philosophic tour de force by Ghana’s leading public intellectual Ato Sekyi-Otu. Each chapter brims with insight, irony (humorous and often indecent, like the George W. Bush highway in Accra), and analytical precision as he subjects the homesteads, Canada and the USA and the homeland, Ghana, to his partisan universalist critique. Ee weaves his reflections with the thoughts of philosophers, thinkers, and sages of the human condition and the poets, songwriters, and dreamers of human liberation.
— Nigel Gibson, author of
Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination
Raging against the solitary confinement of despair into compartmentalized finitudes and possessive particularisms, Ato Sekyi-Otu continues in these epigrammatic reflections to put his unmistakable mixture of resentment and fury at the service of a new principle of hope. In search of a place to call home, untethered to any exclusionary metaphysics of difference, he makes short shrift of the willful amnesia surrounding the criminal junction of capitalism, slavery, colonialism, and anti-black racism, with their interlocking systems of subjugation; refuses the preaching of collective guilt and abject misanthropy alike; and instills in the reader a concrete utopian belief in freedom from the dominion of race, egalitarian self-determination, and partisan universalism as common sense. These fragments of a vision of humanity unbound will leave no one untouched by their relentless tarrying with the world’s prose and intermittent poetry.
—Bruno Bosteels, author of The Actuality of Communism
For those familiar with Sekyi-Otu’s work, Homestead, Homeland, Home is another instalment of what are gift offerings of his extraordinary mind and intellect. And for those not familiar, they better start reading these reflections right now, and don’t stop until you are fully done with them. Here is something to arouse the consciousness with beauty, poise, and quiet brilliance.
— Ato Quayson, Jean G. and Morris M. Doyle Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Stanford University
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