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Lwati: A Journal of Contemporary Research

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Towards a Remediation of Africa’s Image: the Colonial Novel and African Reaction

J Aigbe-Agho

Abstract


Colonialist literature and history are replete with lots of misrepresentation about Africa as a continent and Africans as a people. Understandably, the African experience of slavery during the era of the obnoxious trade in human trafficking as well as the later experience of colonialism gave reins to sentiments and beliefs held in the western world bordering on the cultural and racial superiority of the Caucasian race over the black race. This has been reflected in such disparaging expressions as: The black man is racially inferior to his white counterpart; Africa has no history, culture and civilizations and has therefore not contributed anything worthwhile to humanity; and finally Africans are heathens who indulge in fetishes and worship of dead gods etc. Many white writers who wrote on Africa and the black man even before and after Charles Darwin’s monumental book on human evolution, The Origins of Species was published reflected these opinions. More contextually, in the realm of imaginative literature, white writers as Graham Greene, Joyce Cary, Joseph Conrad and others too numerous to list have reflected this attitude. This paper, therefore, examines the image of Africa presented in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as well as the bold and courageous countering of these misrepresentations in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, published in 1958.



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