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Internalism Vs. Externalism

Essay by review  •  October 31, 2010  •  Essay  •  2,663 Words (11 Pages)  •  2,168 Views

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Colonialism versus Origin

Within Wole Soyinka's and Tsitsi Dangarembga's intricately weaved novels, both pieces of literature successfully intertwine to portray the estrangement and hardships dealt with through the main characters in settling within a separate environment apart from their origins; culture and adopting the colonial mentality which is imposed upon them. There is a negative portrayal of the colonial mentality that manifests onto the African society. There are three major categories within these two texts displaying the characters that forget that they play these roles within society as puppets of colonialism, those who rebel against the invading culture that seems to threaten their sense of identity and lastly those who choose these roles and carry them out. These categories bring emphasis upon the very distinctions and gaps that are created because of colonialism and the immense impact that two cultures can bring upon individuals. The main characters within both novels compose of Nyasha, Tambudza, Maiguru, Babamukuru, Olunde, Elesin, Joseph and Amusa. Nervous Conditions and Death and the King's Horseman brilliantly convey the immense differences between the English and the African culture and the negative impact that adopting these differences can have on the human conscious. This assimilation towards colonialism can also consume the characters and drive them to the brinks of insanity, as they cannot escape this tragic fate when they are aware of their circumstances and their surroundings. The intensity of the agitation felt from the characters to the readers ascends to a point where the inner and outer conflicts of the characters struggles are made clear. Both these writer's works are complimentary to one another as they cleverly articulate and demolish the idealism that was created that the colonialists were good for the country and there are other perspectives presented through the protagonists. It is critical for some of these characters to cling onto their culture as a means to get in touch with their past and a sense of fixed identity that they can call their own.

It is easy to forget the circumstances of a situation when an individual's life revolves and becomes assimilated into a new lifestyle and adopts a new culture. These are the tragic characters that have fallen deep into the colonial mentality that is constantly imposed upon the Africans and thus have become the products of the process of assimilating and integrating one culture into another (English). This brings the characters to lose grasp of their origins, which in turn are also losing a large part of their identities as well. As time progresses, the characters forget that they are playing roles according to the Colonists whims. This is clearly portrayed through Wole Soyinka's novel. As clearly displayed within the first act, There is a distinctive culture apart from the British introduced which portrays the different values and customs that the Africans perform. Amusa whom is an African sergeant in the native administration police working for the white British colonialists is an example of a puppet of colonialism turning against the Africans systematic way of life through the adoption of British customs and values. Though Amusa has converted towards the British Empire, he is still seen as inferior in Pilking's eyes thus this shows that due to his origin, he will never be valued in the eyes of a colonist. Amusa fears the Engungun costume yet aids the British in stopping the African rituals, which deprive the African people of their beliefs. They don't seem to realize that they are harming their own culture but rather see it as an alien culture once they have fully adopted other methods of practice through the English culture. Joseph is also a prime example of a character that has taken up a role within the colonialist society through his acceptance of the catholic religion. Joseph is a convert influenced by the British and believes that even his origin of culture cannot harm Pilkin through a curse because he is Christian British, which implies a certain sense of superiority over the African culture. Evidently, there is a large gap between the two cultures due to language barriers as well as the Africans have a fancy way of talking whereas the British favor the straightforward English, thus they often become frustrated with each other and ironically look down on each other because of these differences. The lack of self-will against colonists within these two characters excellently contrast with Tsitsi Dangarembga's novella and the characters that fade into the new culture without any opposition of some sort. Nhamo willingly let the transformation within his character take place instead of clinging onto his African heritage. Nhamo, when he returns from schooling at the mission there is an immense transformation in his behavior towards physical labour and he also tries to rid himself of the rural conditions that his homestead is under though it is part of his origin yet he feels ashamed of this rural life that is undeniably his own. Nhamo has become a stranger within the African society and has also willingly deserted his own Shona culture, which distances him from communicating with his family. As illustrated as , "The rest oif us spoke to Nhamo in Shona , to which, when he did answer, he answered in English, making a point of speaking slowly, deliberately, enunciating each syllable clearly so that we could understand. This restricted our communication to mundane insignificant matters." (Dangarembga, pp 53). Though Chido is a somewhat different case as he has never truly been taught or had a grasp on the African culture to have anything to recall upon, yet he seems quite content in this ordeal and chooses to accept his fate with the English society instead of seeking his past. There is a system introduced of leader versus follower where the leaders are the agency of where the colonists bringing westernized views come from and the followers who are the Africans that mimic the ways of the Ð''white' people. Due to this split and the acceptance of integrating into an English life, there are splits made between the characters themselves and the African community. Evidently, there is a clash as Amusa tries to stop the Elesin's ritual as the villagers who value the African system/government no longer trust him because he works with the British to enforce Ð''Ð''the laws of strangers.'' There is also a gap in terms of association and communication formed as Chido often avoids going to the homestead and often vacates to his friend's houses. The dramatic change is seen as Nhamo returns from missionary school, which represents a westernized culture and atmosphere and he does not know how to speak Shona anymore thus his inability

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