“There’s your truth, there’s my truth and there’s the truth.” This statement of Wole Soyinka – and at a later stage he added an important forth part – hits the crucial point when it comes to discussing a historical concept such as Négritude: There is simply not the one truth, there are many. Négritude – a 1930s Paris-bred philosophical movement of Black Pride professed by Léopold Senghor and Aimé Césaire, instigators of the African Liberation movement – fell into exactly that trap itself. By universalizing a romantic approach to being Black, and by narrowing it down to being Black and African, it sought the one truth by excluding others.

Against this reductionist approach Manthia Diawara posited the thinking of Caribbean philosopher Édouard Glissant, who claimed that truth rests in a poetics of relations. Difference is crucial to humans, but the question is: how do we find solidarities of and between theses differences?

Bernd Scherer introduced the topic of the Truth Commissions, whose prime mover Wole Soyinka put into a nutshell: there is no outcast to humanity, not even child soldiers, whose brainwashed, monstrous deeds were abhorred by everyone. They, too, can be regained by society, if the will is there. However, seeking truth alone is not enough, one must go further: the aim is restitution – mind you, not reparation. The economic aspect, as Soyinka said in answer to a question from the audience, is incalculable anyway. And here he brought the 4th part of his introductory statement to the fore: perhaps, at least sometimes, there simply is no truth.

Finally, coming back to Négritude, in times of religious indoctrination as with Boko Haram in Soyinka’s home Nigeria, resurrecting a common identity such as Négritude might be the only valid remedy.