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Colonialism and African Culture in 19-20th Centuries - Essay Example

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This paper "Colonialism and African Culture in 19-20th Centuries" focuses on the outline of a comparative cultural studies approach in the nineteenth and part of the twentieth century. This is evident in the major texts of world literature outlined in the book. …
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Colonialism and African Culture in 19-20th Centuries
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Colonialism and African Culture in 19-20th Centuries
Colonialism and African culture outline a comparative cultural studies approach in the nineteenth and part of the twentieth century. This is evident in the major texts of world literature outlined in the book, Bedford Anthology of World Literature by Paul Davis, Gary Harrison, David M. Johnson and John F. Crawford. Conrad, outlines A European perspective on African colonialism through his story in the Heart of Darkness. On the other hand, Achebe outlines African culture and responses through the story Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This paper outlines different perspectives of Conrad and Chinua Achebe through their story Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart respectively.
Conrad outlines a European perspective on African colonialism in the story Heart of Darkness contained in the book Bedford Anthology of World Literature. The story of Heart of Darkness is based on Charles Marlowe, who spends his life as an ivory transporter in along the Congo River. He is a captain and is saddened when he passes the land areas and from afar, he could see black men working hard while under watch by armed men. He comes to hear of Kutz and thinks he is an icon. Latter he realizes that Mr. Kutz is a hoax; he is engaged in human treaties as opposed to Marlow’s ivory transporter job. Contrary to Marlow’s expectation, he obtains one of Kutz letters written “exterminate the brutes.” Kutz was an agent who was gathering information for Europe. Every time Marlow would come near the shore, the pilgrim would open fire, but with the sound of his steamer and this would make them stop opening fire. (Davis et al, 18). Marlow finds Kutz letters when he dies. He takes it upon himself to deliver them while still hiding some of the information back to his family and friends. To his fiancée, there was a note written “to my intended” but he tells her that Kutz last words were her name. The company that employed both Kutz and Marlow had its interest focused on the whereabouts of ivory (Davis et al, 14).
On the other hand, African culture and responses is evident in Africa through the story of things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe in the book Bedford Anthology of World Literature. The story stars a leader known as Okwonko. He was well-bodied leader who was the local wrestling champion in the village. The book concentrates on the influence of British colonialism and comparison against the African culture. The text also covers Christianity and the effects it brought to the people of Igbo community. Okwonko is a leader who tries to cover his weaknesses and at all cost tries to avoid succumbing to his father’s fate. Contrary to Okwonkos character, his father was cheap and ended up in debts and lived in fear. Due to his leadership and property, Okwonko is given a son, Ikemefuna as a peace offering between communities. Things start falling apart when Okwonko takes part in the murder of Ikemefuna, despite being warned not taking part in the death execution. Okwonko fails in the end and commits suicide. He proves to be of less value than his father was. Suicide was an abomination to the Igbo society. This paper illustrates the African culture and organization before the settler’s influence (Davis et al, 16).
According to Davis et al (18), a body of elders made decisions in the society. Also, the religious leaders such as the oracle of the community offered advice to the chiefs. Spiritual leaders settled any accusations in the society. The Europeans conclude that the African culture unbecoming and conclude their gods are unrealistic. The community lacked a king, and immediately the British arrive and find no leader, they establish their own leadership protocol. The British establish district commissioners to whom they communicate and dominate through the Africans. Mixed reactions are aroused as to whether to adapt to the new ways of doing things or resistance towards the same. In Achebe’s view, things in Nigeria ran smoothly until the settlers’ influence came into being. The Nigerian community feels no loyalty to the Igbo culture and thus quickly adapt to the British system that has loopholes in its management. The African culture allowed sons to seek refuge from their mothers. Okwonko commits a murder and is forced out of the society for seven years. The norm in the community was the children were the fathers, but when they were things go haywire, they turn back to their mothers. Uchendu upholds this fact and attributes it to why mothers are supreme (Davis et al, 26).
In both cases, the African culture is deemed as uncouth and not realistic. A council of men among other leaders easy and well runs the natives’ way of life. The settlers either have ulterior motives to possess the land and that which comes from it or are after precious items such as ivory. Infiltration into the African way of life has been faced with a lot of resistance and has led to the loss of many lives. It is evident that before the settler communities came to Africa, the people lived in harmony but after their intrusion, disturbances ensued.
Works Cited
Davis, Paul., Harrison, C., Johnson, D. M & Crawford, J.F. The Bedford Anthology of World Literature: Modern World : 1650-the present. USA: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. Print. Read More
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