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Post Colonialism: An Image of Africa, Essay Example

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In an “Image of Africa”, Achebe made a condemnatory remark about the author Joseph Conrad and his book “The Heart of darkness”. He called him a bloody racist; Achebe made this accusation on the grounds that Conrad paints a picture of Africa that is the very antithesis of Europe and condemning African civilisation.  Achebe went on to say that the “Heart of Darkness”, was a book that was flawed in its interpretation of Africa and its people; the book calls into question the very humanity of the black people in Africa. He believes that Conrad depicts the very worst of European imperialism and typical of British colonial thinking.

Despite the comments and assertions put forward by Achebe, nevertheless, critics have acclaimed the work from Joseph Conrad as being of important literary significance and as such an important critique of imperialism at that point in history.  The societal prejudices that Conrad portrays are an accurate reflection of people’s views and opinions at that time.  Achebe accuses Conrad of a lack of empathy and respect towards black people; however puts no real evidence forward in order to support that claim. He fails to recognise that Conrad is merely providing a reflection of the people and attitudes of the people in that imperialistic era.

Achebe did not really acknowledge that Conrad reported the plight of the subjugated African people and he dismissed Conrad’s analysis as being merely “bleeding heart sentiments”.  In this regard Achebe does not present a balanced criticism of Conrad’s work. Conrad did depict the unsavoury elements of imperialism in Africa and the novel made a number of critiques upon these.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart, the center cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

– W.B Yeats, “The Second Coming”

Quoting From Yeats Poem

Achebe uses an epigraph which is phrase borrowed from a Yeats poem.  These are often used as tasters or enticers in order to provide a flavour of the story which is to follow.  Achebe uses these lines in his novel “the second coming” in order to illustrate the parallels between that of European History and the colonization of Africa by the Europeans.  He is enlightening the reader towards an apocalyptic vision of the Europeans desecrating the African world where things fall apart for the African people.

The notation describing “the things that fall apart” illustrates how the Europeans presided over a sense of chaos, from a previous state of order, with the African people. In Yeats poem depicting the second coming of Christ he describes a state of chaos and destruction. Similar to what is being unleashed on Africa with a world marred by corruption and greed.  It was the decline of western morals. He depicted the Europeans as being a brutal people that coerced the African people into destroying themselves – Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

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