Posts tagged ‘colonialism’

April 1, 2009

A Small Place

by Aurelea

By ChrisWilcox

“Do I look out of place? Are those people disgusted at me? Am I unwanted here?” These are questions very few people ask themselves every day and even less so when it comes to being a tourist. Yet this is something that is a common theme within Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place. “Every tourist is a native somewhere and every native is a potential tourist” These words speak profoundly in the book as it reflects how Kincaid sincerely feels about the world as she takes us on a tour of her home, Antigua.

In the beginning of the book, Kincaid starts us off in the back seat of a taxi cab where we first start off our relationship with Antigua. As the book progresses our view as a tourist is intentionally warped in order to show how beautiful things can have dark stains. Slowly the reader starts to realize the lack of beauty in Antigua and then questions how we ought to view people and places every day. Despite the sarcastic tone, this seems to be one of the main themes throughout the book.

One of the author’s goals it seems is to be more humble about our surroundings. What Kincaid really asks is for us to keep in mind where we are at all times. In A Small Place, we the reader are in Antigua but what Kincaid would like us to consider is that we are also in someone else’s home. We are visitors, Antiguans are hosts, but regardless we are all humans. The way the book ends shows us that the British nobles who colonized Antigua and their slaves are all the same. Kincaid invites us to reconsider how we see skin colour, language, political values, religion, and wants us to focus on things that make us human together.

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April 1, 2009

A Small Place

by tasharennie

In Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, the author takes her reader on an unexpected and thought-provoking journey to the place where she grew up. Antigua is a small island in the Caribbean, formerly of British rule, that is now a popular tourist destination. The book is split into four untitled sections. The first section uses the second person point-of-view, and starts out, “if you go to Antigua as a tourist, this is what you will see” (3). It goes on to describe the experiences a tourist might have upon arriving in Antigua. Presumptuous and provocative, Kincaid’s narrative intertwines the typical sights and feelings a tourist might experience with facts that only an Antiguan native could know, she states, “you must not wonder what exactly happened to the contents of you lavatory when you flush it…it might end in the water you are thinking of taking a swim in” (13-14). Kincaid paints a fairly unattractive image of tourists in general that leaves the reader feeling uncomfortable and defensive. In the second section, Kincaid uses her personal experiences in the colonial Antigua to examine the impact slavery and British colonialism have had on her nation and her childhood. She highlights the blatant racism, discrimination and enforced cultural conformity that she experienced growing up in a small country that belonged to a huge empire. Thirdly, Kincaid reports on the corruption and crime that blatantly exist within the post-independence government and the resulting neglect to the public, such as the public library for which repairs had been pending for many years. Kincaid’s final chapter is a curious contrast to the rest of the book. It describes the unreal physical beauty of the island as seeming, “as if it were stage sets for a play” (77). She finds the beauty that attracts so many Americans and Europeans to Antigua to be a mixed blessing for the Antiguans themselves because it also serves as, “a prison” that traps in its residents in a world of inescapable poverty while trapping out all the developments of the outside world (79).

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April 1, 2009

Information for tourists!

by justineb89

Jamaica Kincaid, a native Antiguan, acts as a reader’s tour guide through the picturesque sights and fascinating history of A Small Place, Antigua.  Kincaid is a very passionate tour guide, who is an enormous wealth of information on Antiguan past, both as a colony of the British Empire and after its independence as a post-colonial state struggling to find stability. She demonstrates no inhabitations and is quite brutally honest, almost to the point of offence, regarding the treatment of Antigua, and Antiguans by the British colonists.

However then goes on to explain the backwardness of Antigua seen presently, Kincaid does this most effectively through the description of the library. As the library was built during colonial times and up kept nicely until and earthquake in 1974 caused great damage to the structure, which has never been repaired. Kincaid uses this example to illustrate the “corruption, of things gone bad” (42).

Furthermore, an author can easily take every time Kincaid says “Antigua” or “Antiguan” and place any other British or European colony in its place. As Kincaid’s take on colonialism is similar to the stories of many other post-colonial society’s struggling with poverty and government corruption.

Moreover I do not suggest readers to take this book, on vacation if they plan on staying in all-inclusive resort in Mexico, Cuba or the Caribbean, as it may ruin your trip. As within the first pages she describes a “North American (or worse) European” tourist as “ an ugly human being”, this is not a description I would want to give myself if I were sipping Mai Tai’s at the Sandals resort in Jamaica. It is, however a book, I would definitely suggest reading before making arrangements for an upcoming vacation, as it will give information about Antigua or any other post-colonial state, that no travel agency will dare tell their clients.

February 19, 2009

Nervous Conditions

by angelakm

Angela Matthews

On the surface Tsitsi Dangarembga’s bildungroman, Nervous Conditions, presents the compelling coming of age story of a young Zimbabwean girl, Tambu. Once the surface is scratched Tambu’s story becomes a powerful tool in comprehending the realities, effects and legacies of colonialism. Dangarembga, once a young Zimbabwean girl herself succeeds in giving an outsider a genuine insiders perspective into what has been coined colonialism. She understands that to many it may seem so distant, abstract and broad. She challenges this by providing a medium, Tambu, whom we can see and walk through her village and life with.

Throughout Tambu’s journey through life we are constantly left wondering whether Tambu’s life is truly a success story or all too good to be true. Growing up in Zimbabwe is already difficult enough but for Tambu things couldn’t get much worse. She is dealt with the hand of young, black, poor and female, just about the most unlucky hand anyone could be dealt. Despite all odds, Tambu is determined, questionable to being a blessing or curse, and makes the most of it.

To say that her determination ridded herself of fear is an underestimation, like the title of the book, almost every character is living under the influence nervous conditions. Tambu’s determination, though she des not like to admit it t can be seen as growing out of her fear of being less, missing out, especially when the possibility to be more exists, “ I could not accept responsibility for my weakness.”

Family and cooperation was key to growing up on the homestead, it was not impossible but hard especially for a young girl. Tambu knew and could see that her brothers education was taking him else where, like her uncle, a headmaster living comfortably in town. By an unlikely event that most would consider a tragedy, Tambu is graciously lifted out of her reality with a get out of jail free card. Though Tambu is living her dream, getting an education she is constantly battling with the angel and devil on her shoulders and at most times not even sure which is which. Though her education is her emancipation, it comes at a cost. “ That boy Chido can hardly speak a word of his won mothers tongue” one of those costs her cousin was paying and soon she might too. Was the cost really worth it becomes the question, “Look at him he may look all right, but there’s no telling what price he’s paying.”

The story puts colonialism into a real scenario where its’ effects are played out daily in the lives of Tambu and her family. Tambu narrating the story describes it as “a long and painful process” but fortunately for her “something in my mind began to assert itself, to question things and refuse to be brainwashed.”

February 18, 2009

Nervous Conditions

by valdesjoha

Images of Colonialism

By Johannes Valdes

Born in 1959 at the Colony of Rhodesia in Zimbabwe, Tsitsi Dangarembga wrote Nervous Conditions during her mid-twenties.  Her novel takes us through the complex portrayal of the challenges a young Rhodesian girl must face as she leaves her impoverished background to gain an education.  Tambu, the protagonist, realizes that the only way for her family to escape the cycle of poverty lies in education, and with the unfortunate passing of her older brother, she gains the opportunity to be educated.  Guided through imagery,  readers will be brought into the mind of Tambu as she undergoes her journey towards progress while concurrently retaining her traditions.

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February 18, 2009

Nervous Conditions

by ashleywestenberg

Ashley Westenberg

Eng Lit 213

The Results of Colonialism

Tsitsi Dangarembga’s novel Nervous Conditions is a story narrated by Tambu a girl who lives in Rhodesia a colony of England. Tambu’s journey of coming of age allows the reader a chance to step into the life of a young African woman and witness her desire to rise above poverty and ignorance. Tambu comes from a large extended family living with her father, mother, brother and two sisters. Tambu learns from early on that her (lazy) father and extended family depend heavily on her educated uncle Babamukuru. In this story Babamukuru, a school master for a missionary school, symbolizes the epitome of an assimilated African man; he is also the God-like figure in Tambu’s family. Unfortunately, due to the sexist reality that woman are of lesser stance, Tambu is denied education until her brother Nhamo unexpectedly dies. Nervous Conditions opens with the powerful statement, “I was not sorry when my brother died. Nor am I apologizing for my callousness, as you may define it, or lack of feeling”, it takes the reader the entirety of the book to fully understand the depth of why this statement is true, and just.

Dangarembga reveals to us, through the educating of Tambu, how colonialism affects this one particular family and highlights the variety of struggles that result from it especially within the female characters. Assimilation, depression, hatred, alienation, racism, discrimination, victimization, uncertainty of self, are some of the realities of mixing the two races and the result of the white hierarchy over African tradition. Sadly, with subjective innocent young minds, Tambu, her brother Nhamo and her cousin Nyasha all reject their African culture and struggle to fit when they cannot relate to being either African or English. Nyasha adequately explains in this passage, “now they’re stuck with hybrids of children. And they don’t like it. They don’t like it at all. It offends them. They think we do it on purpose, so it offends them. And I don’t know what to do about it Tambu, I really don’t. I can’t help having been there and grown into me that has been there. But it offends them – I offend them. Really it’s difficult.”

Dangarembga also reveals, in Nervous Conditions, a stark similarity of family dynamics between the two cultures and indirectly proves that both races are equal, that one is no better than the other, only different. That women (and men alike) strive to be educated, to have purpose, to be apart of family, and society, and to be accepted. Nervous Conditions is a must read for those who want to be enlightened and humbled and to understand the effects of colonialism, what it does to cultures, to families to women.

January 21, 2009

Jean Rhys

by chantalstrand

By Chantal Strand

Derek Walcott’s Jean Rhys examines a snapshot of British colonial life, focusing on a family in which there are several generations of women, each struggling with the conventions and expectations of the times. Through the application of sensory images, Walcott uses Jean Rhys to illustrate the effects of repression on women of all ages, and succeeds in expressing a fear as to the stillness and silence surrounding the past, present and future of a woman’s place within a man’s world. In choosing to name his poem after Jean Rhys, a Dominican novelist whose writing centered around wayward women and their struggles within structured societies, Walcott makes his purpose clear from the start.

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