Colonialism and Beyond Things Fall Apart and Heart
of Darkness comparison compare contrast essaysColonialism and Beyond Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness
My entire education has taken place in the United States of America. It has consisted of public school, college, and graduate school. I only had one teacher during my public school career who wasn’t white. I had a female African-American English teacher when I was in Junior High School. The student body of my junior high school was over ninety-percent black, yet our faculty was entirely white with the exception of two black teachers. So, during my entire elementary and high school careers I never saw a person of color in the front of the class.
I vividly remember that the only time black people (or non-whites) were discussed was in history class, moreover, when we got to the chapter that dealt with slavery. I had to make a big adjustment in high school because my high school was well over ninety-percent white (just the opposite of my jr. high school.) Fredrick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and the Nat Turner rebellion was pretty much the extent of people of color within the curriculum.
I grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts and during my junior year of high school something unexpected happened. College students from Smith College, Amherst College, and the University of Massachusetts did an academic intervention by providing tutoring and actually sitting in on our (“minority student’s) classes. This tutorial program became the Smith-Amherst Tutorial Project which enabled me to spend two summers following my junior and senior years of high school at Smith College, taking college-level classes. These classes were taught by professors from Umass and Smith College who were kind enough to give up part of their summer for us. College students from all three colleges served as both mentors and tutors.
We were immersed and exposed in Black Literature for the first time in our lives. This immersion gave us a sense of who we were (an identity) while allowing us to see our true potential.
Graduate school has allowed me to recognize and identify the role that the canon and world view play in who is read and from what perspective. Clearly Eurocentrism dominates our institutions of higher learning and what is considered or understood to be American. Overridingly American Poetry means Whitman, Eliot, Pound , Crane etc. While a course on the American Novel usually translates into Twain, Dreiser, Faulkner, Howell etc.
A course on colonial and post-colonial literature satisfies my cravings for thought and literature that falls outside of the mainstream of the Eurocentric view of things. Achebe, Walcott, Arundhati, and Kincaid etc. the so-called marginalized- third-world writers provide another perspective, another glimpse of reality as they see and experience it. Hopefully this journal will juxtapose colonial and post-colonial perspectives. I’m also interested in the struggle between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ (tradition vs. modernity) and how this represents itself in African culture and African literature.
One of the most well known post-colonial writers is Chinua Achebe. He was born in Ogidi in eastern Nigeria on November 16, 1930, to Isaiah Okafor Achebe and Janet Achebe. Even though his parents were devout evangelical Protestants, they still managed to instill in him many values of their traditional Igbo culture. “He attended mission schools, but remained emotionally close to many of his relatives who were not Christians. These early negotiations of cultural duality would later enable him to develop a necessary distance from the competing and conflicting forces that shaped his sense of self and formed his worldview” (Parekh 19)- a distance that he now affirms as a prerequisite to see the totality of life “steadily and fully” (Morning Yet on Creation Day, 68).
In 1944 Achebe enrolled in the Government College in Umuahia and four years later, he entered the London-affiliated University College at Ibadan. He graduated from Ibadan in 1953 and published his first novel, Things Fall Apart, 1958. It was published reluctantly, because Heinemann editors were uncertain if the West would purchase a novel by an African. But the novel was a stunning success and remains Achebe’s most widely read work. Achebe has