African writers can reconstruct Africa’s image

The African continent is synonymous with conflict, poverty, hunger and calamities. More often than not, African solutions to the problems that rock the continent cannot be The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) crisis, for instance, has been fanned by the interests and influences of the developed powers.

The African continent is synonymous with conflict, poverty, hunger and calamities. More often than not, African solutions to the problems that rock the continent cannot be

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) crisis, for instance, has been fanned by the interests and influences of the developed powers.

Nonetheless, an educational approach is necessary in resolving the African crisis. African writers can aid this perfectly well. The belittling attitude towards Africa can be conspicuously observed in the literature by racist writers like Joseph Conrad.

In his novel, Heart of Darkness, he paints a dull and sickly picture of Africa. In his imagery, he likens the black colour with dirt and sickness.

According to him, black skin is as a result of not taking a shower for too long and sickness. In Conrad’s novel, Africans are savages and emaciated figures. They are so dark that you cannot see them.

A sail on an African river is terrifying as the rivers are full of meanders and rocks. In short; there is no life in Africa.

Contrary to the Western portrayal of Africa, African literature has tried to reconstruct the Western ideology on Africa. The conflict that rocks the continent is traced to colonialism and Western religions.

In Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s novel, The River Between, the two ridges, Makuyu and Kameno lie as sleeping lions quite ignorant about what is going on in the outside world.

Rivalry, that is characteristic of what is happening in the Arab world creeps in when the missionaries come with their religion that divides Africans down the middle.

Divided in the lines of tribes and religion, the once coexisting African society gets up in arms against itself. In the middle of confusion and chaos, the colonialist ruled had exploited the Africans.

The divisions that arose along the lines of religion and tribe still live. We no longer think about ourselves as African. We look at ourselves as us and others.

Reversing this trend is as difficult as it looks. However, education can be a powerful tool that liberates Africans from the jaws of conflict and destruction.

Western support and involvement in the African affairs should be taken with a pinch of salt and not with gospel truth at all times.

This popular question about why the UN and the West are doing so little about the conflict in Somalia should be answered.

The author is the Director of Studies at Nu Vision High School.

znyamosi@yahoo.com

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