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262  vernacularization of forms and styles is in progress, and it is well on the way to transforming the great African cities into global capitals of an imagination at once baroque, creolized and hybridized. But it is necessary to go even further. Boundaries inherited from the colonial era must be abolished. We must move further towards the transnationalization of society, of intellectual, cultural and artistic life. It is necessary to commit ourselves to ambitious spatial and infrastructural projects that cross national boundaries. It is necessary to promote the mobility of goods and brains and encourage the formation of an Afropolitan public sphere. In short we must open up to the world if we really want to give the Africa- World that is being born a chance. In the meantime much of the strength of African contemporary art lies in its power of dematerialization, its ability to occupy the sensible world with the aim of transforming it into an idea and an event. Art in Africa has been, by force of circumstances, a high-risk zone. It rests on the assumption that it is worth making the attempt, but the infinite can be captured neither in a form nor in the finite. At the core of African contemporary art is the very African idea of art itself as an attempt to capture the energies of the infinite, a kind of trapping of the infinite in sensible form, but a form that consists of an endless doing, undoing and re-doing. Under current conditions, it is as if there are no longer any images one can isolate and closely as possible follow the propensities of things. Always being on the alert to detect the potential or the resources inherent in a situation, is considerably more important than the question of ‘being’ as such. What one is and what one becomes is a result of our ability to exploit the potentials of a situation. Any action is momentary and provisional. The measure of the efficacy of an action lies in its capacity to participate in the silent, almost metamorphic and compositional transformation of things and of life. In short a rather remarkable element of plasticity is involved, which has nothing to do with passivity, and which gives rise to paradoxical situations of transformation without rupture, transformation in continuity. To bring to light the enormous possibilities that the current age offers the African continent, we must make an important change in our historical hypothesis. The continent is well on its way to becoming the centre of gravity for a new cycle of global migration. Chinese newcomers are settling not only in the great metropolises of the continent, but also in more isolated towns, while at the same time African trading colonies are being established in many of the Asiatic megalopolises: Dubai, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Guangdong and Shanghai are taking over old European and American cities as the preferred destinations of new African migrants. Tens of thousands of students are going to China, while other new powerful nations like Brazil, India and Turkey follow closely behind. An extraordinary The West has in the past developed a kind of world-thinking, beginning with the so-called age of discoveries, when it broke down its boundaries and travelled to America, Africa, the South China Seas, India. But the West has not been willing to face the fact that there are several other, parallel histories, narratives of the world that did not necessarily begin with Adam and Eve, continue with the ancient Greeks and so on. Even when Europe has been confronted with this reality, it has not been willing to acknowledge it, but has preferred to close its eyes in a kind of metaphysical denial that is Europe’s specialty. And then Europe invented anthropology – an explanatory model based on the assumption that people without history exist; people who do not distinguish between nature and culture, nor even between nature and society; people who live in a ‘state of nature’. After decolonization Europe has closed in upon itself and has gradually lost the ability to develop a type of thinking commensurate with the planet at large. Today this type of thinking comes to a very great extent from the global South. PLANETARY THINKING AS THINKING ABOUT BEING IN MOTION To develop this planetary thinking, we cannot not inhabit Europe’s historical legacy, which after all also includes a part of ourselves. Moreover, we are in several respects co-authors of that history. We must take this tradition upon us – at all events it is not alien to us, and we are not aliens in it. We must in other words inhabit more than one world at a time, and we must do so in a constant alternation that enables us to formulate a thinking about being in motion. The question of being forms the basis of European philosophy. When it is said that “the Word was made flesh”, is this not also about the verb ‘to be’? The question of being and identity is first and foremost – at any rate among the Greeks – an ontological question. In ancient African tradition the starting point for philosophical inquiry is not the question of being, but that of relationality, of motion, of continuous, endless transformation. Continuous transformation requires the person concerned constantly to be on the alert and aware of circumstances which are themselves constantly changing. And in this flow of constant changes the human must as


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