Cultural Clash: Achebian and Ngugian Perspectives
In the British colonies of Africa, the natives were forced to give up their traditional ways of life and attend European schools, study European history and adopt Christian beliefs. Thus the coloniser has set up targets of hidden exploitations by infusing the feeling of inferiority into the mind of the native. These exploitations are the outstanding features of postcolonial writings which emerged in different colonies and found expressions through writings of Wole Soyinka, Sembene Ousmane, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Peter Abrahams. However, the European literature dealing with colonial themes has limitations as it portrays only one side of the coin. They portray only the view of the coloniser. The eminent writer, Yahya asserts that the impact of literature on the human mind is stronger than the power of colonisation. “While British soldiers and empire builders were busy making conquests over 4.5 million square miles, an army of metaphors was busy making conquests on the mental landscape of 66 million inhabitants of the colonies”. The inferiority complex which arises from the feeling that West is the best also alienates man from his culture. Some people belittle their own culture and identify themselves more with the coloniser’s culture. Ngugi states that the biggest weapon wielded and actually unleashed daily by imperialism against that collective defiance is the cultural bomb. The paper explores the impact of colonial education in the colonies as reflected in the writings of Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Chinua Achebe. The works chosen for study are Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature and The River Between by Ngugi wa Thionga and The Education of a British Protected Child and Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe. In both Arrow of God and The River Between, as a result of the encroachment of white man, the moral value of the indigenous tribe is disintegrated. Both Ezeulu of Arrow of God and Chege of The River Between send their sons to the white man’s school. The purpose of these two is to enable their sons to fight with white man with their own weapons. The African English which Achebe uses in his own style reflects the African culture in the postcolonial world. Waiyaki of The River Between and Ezeulu of Arrow of God represent two different versions of the colonised. The conflict in Ezeulu’s mind is between his own duty as a priest and the emergence of Christianity as a much accepted religion. Ezeulu is attracted and impressed by the white man, Winterbottom. This admiration to white man is the major reason for sending his third son Oduche to the church school to grasp the secrets of the white man’s cleverness. He plans to use that wisdom to enrich his people’s condition and to amalgamate his position of power. Homi K.Bhabha elucidates that the relationship between the coloniser and the colonised is ambivalent as it describes the complex mix of attraction and repulsion that characterises their relationship. The colonised subject is never completely opposed to the coloniser. In Bhabha’s theory ambivalence disrupts the authority of the colonial administration even without any resistance or rebellion. The coloniser asks the colonised to mimic them but they never want the colonised to be their replica.
Key words - Coloniser, colonised, colonial education, inferiority complex, culture