1. What is it?
Post-colonial literature is writing by people whose countries or homelands were colonised. It attempts to give a voice to those colonisers tended to ignore.
The writing also looks at changes colonisation caused to religion, laws, traditions, language, social status, and other aspects of the indigenous society.
It also considers the attitudes of the next generation growing up after colonisation.
2. How is it made?
|The writer represents an authentic voice. This voice is generally native, rather than the colonial voice.||Questioning of identity, and role of tradition and colonialism in identity.|
|Time frame is during or after colonialism.||Examine areas of society affected by colonialism, both positive and negative.|
|Discrepancy between new and old generations’ attitudes caused by post-colonial lifestyle.|
3. Examples in literature
Things Fall Apart
Know Your Book
by Chinua Achebe
Title: Things Fall Apart
Author: Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)
Genre: Fiction; novel; post-colonialism
Plot: Okonkwo is a hyper-masculine wrestler in his village, determined to not repeat the weaknesses of his father. When Okonkwo is made guardian to a child, but then told the child must die, Okonkwo decides to do the killing himself. However, afterwards his luck starts to go wrong, leading to an incident for which he is exiled. At the same time, white Christian missionaries are arriving in African villages, threatening all local traditions.
Setting: Umuofia, Nigeria; 1890s
Characters: Okonkwo; Nwoye; Ekwefi; Ikemefuna
Excerpt from Chapter 18:
The young church in Mbanta had a few crises early in its life. At first the clan had assumed that it would not survive. But it had gone on living and gradually become stronger. The clan was worried, but not overmuch. If a gang of efulefu decided to live in the Evil Forest it was their own affair. When one came to think of it, the Evil Forest was a fit home for such undesirable people. It was true they were rescuing twins from the bush, but they never brought them into the village. As far as the villagers were concerned, the twins still remained where they had been thrown away. Surely the earth goddess would not visit the sins of the missionaries on the innocent villagers?
But on one occasion the missionaries had tried to overstep the bounds. Three converts had gone into the village and boasted openly that all the gods were dead and impotent and that they were prepared to defy them by burning all their shrines.
‘Go and burn your mothers’ genitals’ said one of the priests. The men were seized and beaten until they streamed with blood. After that nothing happened for a long time between the church and the clan.
|Skimming, Scanning and Basic Comprehension|
1. Why was the clan not worried about the church at first?
2. Were the three people who insulted the gods foreigners or locals?
3. What brought an end of interaction between the clan and the church ‘for a long time’?
4. Where does a rhetorical question appear in the passage?
5. What derogatory epithet, or nickname, is given to the members of the church?
6. What does the phrase ‘overstep the bounds’ mean in this case? What does it imply about the previous relationship between the clan and the church?
7. Compare the attitude of the established villagers and the new church. Although they are in conflict, in what ways are they similar?
8. How does the writer show, within this passage, that the local clan is not a completely innocent victim?
9. How is religion portrayed in this passage? Is it positive or negative?
10. What common post-colonial literary concepts appear in this passage from Things Fall Apart?
11. An incident of violence is mentioned at the end of the passage. Is violence against a colonial group/force merited? What is the best method for dealing with an arriving colonial power?
12. While Things Fall Apart laments the idea of colonialism, it also highlights the cultural failings in the colonised. Is it the responsibility of outside cultures to end practices they deem inhumane when seen in another culture?
13. God and religion plays an important part in Things Fall Apart, especially when two different sets of beliefs meet. Do you think religion is helpful or a hindrance in conflict situations?
14. What do you think are the biggest losses a local culture potentially faces when a new group arrives? Is co-existence possible?
A Bend in the River
Know Your Book
by V.S. Naipaul
Title: A Bend in the River
Author: V.S. Naipaul (1932-2018)
Genre: Fiction; novel; post-colonial
Plot: Salim, an Indian Muslim, moves to central Africa to become a trader. His town is enjoying freedom after European colonialism, but failing financially and eventually a rebellion breaks out. With Europeans traders moving back in, ex-students and friends profiteering, and a corrupt new president installed, a disastrous ‘New Africa’ vision begins. A push for a return to traditional values grows, while Salim begins an affair and considers whether he should abandon the country.
Setting: Unnamed African country; mid-20th century
Characters: Salim (narrator); Metty; Ferdinand; Raymond; Yvette
Excerpt from Part 2, Chapter 7:
Our ideas of men were simple; Africa was a place where we had to survive. But in the Domain it was different. There they could scoff at trade and gold, because in the magical atmosphere of the Domain, among the avenues and new houses, another Africa had been created. In the Domain Africans – the young men at the polytechnic – were romantic. They were not always present at the parties or gatherings; but the whole life of the Domain was built around them. In the town ‘African’ could be a word of abuse or disregard; in the Domain it was a bigger word. An ‘African’ there was a new man whom everybody was busy making, a man about to inherit – the important man that years before, at the lycée, Ferdinand had seen himself as.
In the town, when they were at the lycée, Ferdinand and his friends – certainly his friends – were still close to village ways. When they were off duty, not at the lycée or with people like myself, they had merged into the African life of the town. Ferdinand and Metty – or Ferdinand and any African boy – could become friends because they had so much in common. But in the Domain there was no question of confusing Ferdinand and his friends with the white-uniformed servants.
Ferdinand and his friends had a clear idea of who they were and what was expected of them. They were young men on government scholarships; they would soon become administrative cadets in the capital, serving the President. The Domain was the President’s creation; and in the Domain they were in the presence of foreigners who had a high idea of the new Africa. Even I, in the Domain, began to feel a little of the romance of that idea.
|1. Which of the following does not describe how people in the Domain view being African?|
a) An opportunity
b) A source of pride
e) Historically meaningful
|2. Compared to those in the Domain, the town’s people view the term ‘African’ as|
|3. The passage notes that Ferdinand’s behaviour|
a) switches depending on his surroundings
b) is arrogant towards those with whom he was once friends
c) is shallowly mimicking the wealthy
d) is absurd
e) deteriorates when in the company of the powerful
|4. Which of the following is not said or implied about the concept of the Domain?|
a) It is manufactured
b) It is supported by foreigners
c) The promises it offers for the future can be intoxicating
d) It is rooted in traditional culture
e) It alters the way people act socially
|5. Both the passages from Things Fall Apart and A Bend in the River hint at|
a) a naïvety within pre-colonial lifestyles
b) shallowness born from abandoning old practices
c) conflict between the traditional and new local culture
d) the need to revolt against oppression
e) susceptibility due to a mistrust of local leaders