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The circle and the cross: womanhood, manhood, and cultural destruction in prophetic African literature.

MUCH AFRICAN LITERATURE CHRONICLES CULTURAL DISINTEGRATION caused by the imposition of European economic and socio-legal domination beginning with colonization. But the literature also shows the more insidious interpersonal erosions caused by cultural oppression and resultant evidences of African self-hatred. Aime Cesaire describes "millions of men in whom have been skillfully inculcated fear, an inferiority complex, trembling, genuflection, despair, flunkey-ism" (qtd. in Fanon 5). (1) Frantz Fanon's Peau noire, masques blancs (Black Skin, White Masks) explains in detail the psycho-emotional orientation of the victim of colonization as a learned destructive inability to perceive himself positively and work toward his own best interests. But a number of texts offer an alternative to this destructive tendency within traditional magical, mythical, and prophetic traditions. The fantastic elements within these texts often work to counteract the colonial perspective represented in their more realistic depictions of modern African life.

In such diverse works as Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God, Camara Laye's L'enfant noir (The Black Child), Flora Nwapa's Efuru, Ngugi wa Thiong'o's The River Between, Buchi Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood, Okot p'Bitek's Song of Lawino, Bessie Head's The Collector of Treasures, Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions, and Ben Okri's The Famished Road, African writers throughout the continent chronicle how centuries-old, if not millennia-old, pre-Christian and pre-Islamic traditions of gender-defined morality and the ethics of character-building were obliterated by brainwashing European colonialist regimes. In order to dismantle these fully functional traditional or so-called "pagan" African societies, the men must be crippled by social and economic castration, rendered impotent and self-despising, driven to turn against their own loved ones, and silence and subjugate traditionally outspoken African women. Conversely, and contrary to popular European and American feminist discourses, many African women newly subjugated in nineteenth- and twentieth-century European colonialist regimes come from micro-nations (Wangari Maathai's suggested updating for the disparaged term "tribes") that long ago protected women's social and economic independence. Some of these millennia-old African traditions safeguarded against financial dependence, wife-beating, and other forms of domestic tyranny that have flourished among African and Diaspora communities in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, following economic and socio-legal domination by Europe and the Americas.

As examples of this deterioration, the heroine of Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood sees in her lifetime the fall of African men from the prestigious work of hunting and hard labor in the community's yam fields, with these activities' resulting sense of self-possession and vigor, to begging domestic employment in European homes. Concurrently, these socially and economically castrated men's sexual tastes rapidly degenerate from taking pride in being able to win over a proud, independent, outspoken lover such as Ona, heroine Nnu Ego's rebellious mother, "a very beautiful young woman who managed to combine stubbornness with arrogance" (11), to a desire for a woman who will sell herself to any man who can provide for her, epitomized by Nnu Ego's competitive co-wife, "Adaku and her whines and ambitions" (159). As women's roles degenerate from pre-Christian, pre-Islamic traditional Igbo egalitarian roles to those of sexual and servile helpmeets, the women preferred by dominated men are no longer the assertive, bare-breasted women who resist seduction and defy domination, but women who willingly barter sex of the most humiliating kind for enough coins to buy their children food.
   In his young days, a woman who gave in to a man without first
   fighting for her honour was never respected. To regard a woman who
   is quiet and timid as desirable was something that came after
   Christianity and other changes. Most of the women Nwokocha Agbadi
   chose as his wives and even slaves were those who could match his
   arrogance, his biting sarcasm, his painful jokes, and also, when
   the mood called, his human tenderness.

      He married a few women in the traditional sense, but as he watched
   each of them sink into domesticity and motherhood he was soon bored
   and would go further afield for some other exciting, tall and proud
   female. (10)

Tellingly enough, when this chief who wanted his women feisty--even the enslaved ones--must choose a husband for his daughter, he does not want an arrogant man for her but is looking for "a man who would be patient with her, who would value his daughter enough to understand her. A man who would take the trouble to make her happy" (36). Chief Agbadi believes that a traditional Igbo husband is patient and loving, qualities he thinks are no longer easily found in African men under European rule in the 1930s.
   The art of loving, he knew, required deeper men. Men who did not
   have to spend every moment of their time working and worrying about
   food and the farm. Men who could spare the time to think. This
   quality was becoming rarer and rarer, Agbadi found, and sometimes
   he thought it was actually dying out with his own generation. He
   would rather give his daughter to an old chief with a sense of the
   tried, traditional values than to some modern young man [...]. (36)

Chief Agbadi is beginning to understand how difficult it will be to find a functionally colonized young man who also has been taught to be tender with and respectful of an African woman.

In The River Between, Ngugi wa Thiong'o describes this Christianizing of the African husband as training in fear of, submission to, and worship of European-ness, and the instituting of hierarchy, violence, and cruelty in African marriages. "The new faith worked in him till it came to possess him wholly. He renounced his tribe's magic, power and ritual. He turned to and felt the deep presence of the one God. Had he not given the white man power over all?" (29). Significantly, the oppression of women is linked with the renunciation of "magic, power and ritual." Believing that "The unerring white man had called the Gikuyu god the prince of darkness" (29), the African convert to Christianity "would never refrain from punishing a sin, even if this meant beating his wife. He did not mind as long as he was executing God's justice" (31). The properly Christianized African wife, Miriamu, is so beaten down by her husband's Europeanized domestic tyranny that she will not even speak up to keep her daughter from dying alone, exiled from home and village.

In Song of Lawino, Okot p'Bitek immerses the reader in Lawino's heart and mind as the traditional pre-Christian Acoli wife attempts to fulfill her role as spiritual voice of her Europeanized husband's social conscience. Resisting her Sophia-like efforts to counsel and guide him, Lawino's English-educated husband batters her verbally, emotionally, and psychologically, desperate to force her into a semblance of Europeanized wifely subservience. The result of this rapid domino-effect obliteration of traditional "pagan" African interactive roles, dictated neither by Christianity nor Islam but by millennia of social development, is social chaos at every interdependent level: family, community, nation, and continent.

This article addresses the literary and mythical social and political castration of African men in colonized African countries, the silencing subjugation of African women who love and marry these men, the myths that foretold such widespread cultural devastation, and these myths' recuperation in modern African literature, pointing the way toward healing, cultural resurrection, and social reconstruction.

The religious symbol of the Kongo Cosmogram is an equilateral cross inscribed in a circle. The cross's center is equidistant from all points on the circle. Like the Chinese yin-yang circle, this balance of the angular and the rounded stands not only for male and female, the coming together of opposites that makes existence possible but also for wholeness. It represents all that exists, united while divided: the worlds of the living from the realms of the dead, the ancestors from the yet-to-be-born, humans from spirits and gods, and past and present from future. This conceptual framework adapts to encompass any set of abstracts. Even good touches and swirls past the boundaries into evil, creating an osmotic system of exchange and relativity. For, in this philosophical perspective, the Kongo Cosmogram posits that whatever has been pushed through the cosmic flow to a point furthest from its representative opposite has been, conversely, brought closer to the perimeter of the circle that flows directly back to that opposite way of being, that other, resistant state of existence. Whatever presses against the internal borders that are the arms of the cross simultaneously draws closest to its own mirrored obverse (see Wahlman 80-81). The Kongo Cosmogram, shared with several other African traditional religious and philosophical traditions, such as the Yoruba religious system of Ifa (see Fatunmbi 19), speaks for worldviews as ancient as the prayerful invocations from the Egyptian Book of the Dead: "At the ends of the universe is a blood-red cord that ties life to death, man to woman, will to destiny [...]. I am water and dust walking" (Ellis 106), amplified in the Nag Hammadi Library's "The Thunder: Perfect Mind":
   For I am knowledge and ignorance.
   I am shame and boldness.
   I am shameless; I am ashamed.
   I am strength and I am fear.
   I am war and peace.
   Give heed to me.
   I am the one who is disgraced and the great one.
   Give heed to my poverty and my wealth.
   Do not be arrogant to me when I am cast out upon the earth[...]

Thus, the present and the physical world of the visible is shown to be a tenuous and unstable conceptual construct whose reality is neither reliable nor trustworthy. Potential is always found in its opposite condition, in its obstacle, in what denies it. At best, "reality" and physicality provide transient opportunities for human beings to be immersed in the experience of learning what the gods have learned before us and inscribed into existence with us.

In such an alembic of creative potential, any holistic analysis of canonical African literature must rely on an assumed leniency toward this concept of the supernatural interacting with and continually influencing events in the material world. Interplay between the spiritual world and the physical as represented by African literature opens, among many questions, a perpetual self-querying about the continent's twentieth-century history, its colonization, de-colonization, and re-colonization through globalization. From Thomas Mofolo's Chaka's prophetic, spirit-driven vision of a snake god who rises and prophesies that Chaka will be a mighty king, and the African emperor's subsequent seemingly demonic mission to build a nation of warriors, to Achebe's abused, self-blinded visionary priest in Arrow of God, the urgency to understand why European colonization descended upon and shattered traditional African civilizations with gunpowder-powered frenzy escalates. Was the exploitation of the Dark Cradle--dark as in fertile, soil rich with Lucy, diamonds, and gold--driven by European competition to appropriate the world's wealth? Or was Africa's crippling called into being by ancient spiritual rivalries, maddened African gods disintegrating and transmogrifying, seeking allies in their millennia-old competitions for the dread-filled loyalty of their worshippers? More urgently, where is this swirl of spirit to body and back to the ethereal leading the Continent?

In Daniel Kunene's introduction to his translation of Mofolo's seminal treatment of Chaka, Kunene summarizes questions about why Mofolo adapted his tale of Chaka's rather mundane historical life to introduce legendary hypothetical bastard origins, Chaka's king/father's attendant fear of discovery and execution, the following manslaughter of Chaka's rival

prince half-brothers, Chaka's subsequent exile, and the whole magical world of curses, demons, and demigods. Providing necessary clues to the solution of the mystery Kunene has introduced--why would Mofolo choose to sully what little is known of Chaka's unexceptional background with all this illegitimacy, exile, and intrigue?--Kunene relates that French priests commissioned Mofolo's work for a book to teach children to read their native Sesotho. Mofolo's earlier submission to the French priests, L'Ange dechu (The Fallen Angel), drew parallels between the demonized mission of Chaka to crush the scattered pastoral tribes of southern Africa into one warrior nation, to the rebellion and fiery destruction of God's shining angel, Lucifer. To Mofolo's probable chagrin and our own literary loss, L'Ange dechu was rejected by the turn-of-the-twentieth-century priests on the cusp of Continent-wide colonization; no copies of it can be found today. Even the Chaka that now exists was stripped, before it was printed and passed on to the Sesotho children, of two chapters that explained in detail Zulu culture.

In what remains today of Mofolo's original work, Chaka's father is freed of a curse on his wives that makes them incapable of conceiving sons when he seduces the woman who will be Chaka's mother. Strategically, he impregnates her with Chaka before he marries her and makes her one of his wives. His kingdom is thus saved from being overrun by neighboring kings thanks to the birth of his first--though illegitimate--princely heir. At first, the senior wives celebrate Chaka's removal of their stain of dishonor, as women jointly incapable of conceiving a son to inherit the kingdom. (This traditionalist thinking will be explored further in this article in analysis of Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood.) Soon, however, after the curse on Chaka's father has been broken by Chaka's birth, all the king's wives become pregnant with sons. Now that there are several princes who could inherit the kingdom, their mothers all begin to clamor that Chaka and his shameless mother must be executed for the sin of his conception outside wedlock.

Thus facing the threat of execution, himself, as a fornicator, the king who is Chaka's father capitulates to the point that he exiles Chaka and his mother to her own village in disgrace. The "fatherless" Chaka grows up bullied and beaten by the village's men and boys, scapegoated as a symbol of the incipient chaos that threatens social order. In desperate fear for her son's life, Chaka's mother seeks the assistance of a traditional spiritual doctor, who treats Chaka with magical herbs to make him brave and strong. Intended only to help him survive boyhood, this magical empowerment actually prepares Chaka to stand fearlessly and hear prophecies about his great destiny when a giant spirit serpent, the Lord of the Deep Pool, comes to him down a sacred river, the road to the spiritual world.

It is from this point on that Mofolo's reasons for retelling the story of Chaka with such creative license become increasingly clear. With L'Ange dechu, the African Paradise Lost, rejected, Mofolo's new project adopts an African legend rather than a European one. Mofolo's second tale, which became today's Chaka, does not reflect the myth of God's favorite shining angel fallen, but now likens Chaka to the eternally rejuvenated spirit of African kingship that perpetually arises to unite disparate kingdoms under one just and protective ruler. Mofolo's final Chaka recalls the traditional legend now recorded as Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali. But if rendering accessible and current to African children the realm of the Judeo-Christian God's downfallen angel, Lucifer, as Chaka was taboo, perhaps due to segregationist bias rather than concerns about potential blasphemy, then recasting Chaka's story in the resonant, distant image of Sundiata is an even bolder move, on Mofolo's part. For the griots (living historical depositories) who recount the tale of Sundiata warn:

But never try, wretch, to pierce the mystery which Mali hides from you. Do not go and disturb the spirits in their eternal rest. Do not ever go into the dead cities to question the past, for the spirits never forgive. Do not seek to know what is not to be known [...]. I took an oath to teach only what is to be taught and to conceal what is to be kept concealed. (Niane 84)

In Mofolo's treatment, like Sundiata, Chaka will be cursed from birth to inherit a contested throne only against great odds. Mofolo's Chaka, like Sundiata of legend, must pass tests of strength and courage that prove him to be blessed with special powers in both the spiritual and material worlds. Sundiata was blessed by the spirit of the lion and the rampaging white buffalo, representing the spiritual ancestral powers of his male and female parents. Chaka, in exile, rescues his mother's people from a lion that ravages the village by day and, returned in honor to his father's people, from a witch's hyena that carries off victims in the night. Bold lion of the midday and spirit hyena of the midnight both fall to Chaka's spear and knife; thus, he proves himself master of the powers of daylight and darkness, hero of male and female, conqueror of the natural and supernatural realms, destined to accomplish extraordinary things in all spheres of the Kongo Cosmogram. "Chaka, saviour of those in the grip of death, where all hope is lost! [...] how far were Chaka's deeds going to go in their beauty, their nobility and their praise-worthiness" (Mofolo 30, 31). But like the prophet-leader of the enslaved Jews, Moses, the youthful, hopeful Chaka is surprised into committing manslaughter. "He [Moses] saw two men engaged in fighting. One of them asked the help of Moses against his opponent. Whereupon, Moses intervened and slew him [...]. The report of this incident spread throughout the city, and Moses was full of fear"(Baha'u'llah 54). After he kills the hyena meant to kill him and thereby rescues his brother's fiance, Chaka must defend his own life when his jealous half-brothers ambush him. Surprised into full use of his strength, Chaka kills the aggressors and "heard from his own father's mouth that he was to be killed" (Mofolo 33).

Chaka is driven by fear for his life, like Moses before him, into exile: "He ran in earnest now, not simply running away from the sharpness of the spear, but determined to flee, to throw himself away, to give himself to the plains, and go to a place where he would never again be seen, from where he would never return" (Mofolo 34). Alone and frightened, like Moses, his legendary Judeo-Christian predecessor, in exile fearing death, Chaka encounters the spiritual power that will usher him into his destined rule as Africa's visionary military genius: Isanusi, the traditional doctor who befriends the ousted Chaka. Isanusi is Chaka's father-substitute, an evil sorcerer who, like Sundiata's nemesis enemy, the sorcerer king Saumaoro Kante, seems to have transformed into spirit without ever dying from his human body.

While Saumaoro Kante's opposition pushes Sundiata to choose courage, steadfastness, and good deeds in the face of evil, Isanusi's comfort and support of Chaka whittle away his innate goodness and lead him to choose betrayal, bloodlust, and terror. Thus, the moral behind the uplifting tale of Sundiata, Africa's unsurpassed good king who crushed adversaries to unite Mali and give it dominance over the Cisses of Ghana, "descended from Alexander the Great" (Niane 32), also conversely explains the tragic error of Chaka's bloody leadership choices:

There are some kings who are powerful through their military strength. Everybody trembles before them, but when they die nothing but ill is spoken of them. Others do neither good nor ill and when they die they are forgotten. Others are feared because they have power, but they know how to use it and they are loved because they love justice. Sundiata belonged to this group. (Niane 82)

As chronicled by Mofolo, Chaka's repeated free will choices, to be a demon king unlike any ruler ever seen in the human world, bent his great destiny and placed him in the griots' first category of feared, reviled kings of military might. "With the armies of his great empire he invaded the south, and he laid everything to waste without pity or compunction, yet those who fled from him far surpassed him in the numbers they killed. And so it was too with his invasion of the north and in all the wars that he fought" (153). For all his might, Mofolo uses Chaka's position at the pinnacle of legendary, pre-colonialist African power as a cautionary tale to the twentieth century's coming African leaders:
   The number of his warriors was equal to the stars in the sky, and
   no king before him had ever had so many; but even more important,
   they were invincible [...]. And yet, in the midst of all that
   wealth and all that glory he began to suffer pain and a gnawing
   sense of discontent in his soul.

   What, we may ask, was his heart yearning for now? (154)

Murdered by his surviving brothers, Chaka dies both cursing and foretelling to those who would rule the warrior nation he has created, "You are killing me in the hope that you will be kings when I am dead, whereas you are wrong, that is not the way it will be because umlungu, the white man, is coming, and it is he who will rule you, and you will be his servants" (167).

In the wake of Chaka's prophecy, Chinua Achebe, called the father of African literature, creates the god who capitalizes on the coming wave of European invaders and enslavers. Arrow of God's Ulu was once called from the chthonic depths to protect his Igbo community of six villages in their pact to help each other resist the slave traders fueling African bodies into the ships on West Africa's shores. Achebe picks up the tale when the Atlantic slave trade is over. The English have penetrated the interior of the West Coast, formerly known as the White Man's Grave, and set up command posts in the English-manufactured colony of Nigeria. The villagers Ulu saved from chattel slavery are now faced with quite a different danger in this creeping colonization that they neither understand nor can plan how to resist. But Ulu now has issues and needs of his own. The three-hundred-year-old god has developed a paranoid and vindictive hypersensitivity about the villagers' lack of appreciation for what he has already done for them. When the book opens, Ulu is tired of saving these thankless people. Ulu, the vengeful god, now seeks a conscienceless ally to help him defeat, once and for all, the African continent's tenacious millennia-long worship of that overweening snake god who perpetually shows up everywhere, all over the Continent, with so many different names.

Not until the end of Arrow, Achebe's favorite of his own novels, do we finally realize that it was not opportunistic greed that drew the Europeans to the Dark Continent. Rather, the proletarian god Ulu, the powerful and silent, called to the shores of West Africa a militarily driven colonizing power that would join him in hating, denouncing, and instituting a religious fervor against the pre-Christian, pre-Islamic, traditionalistic African reverence for the snake. No matter what they thought their goals and incentives were, Arrow of God posits that these Europeans have come to the Gold Coast of West Africa because Ulu drew them there.

Anti-African-traditionalist interpretation of Europeanized Christianity demands, once and forever, that African converts prove their conversion from paganism by killing and thereby desecrating the now demonized snake god, ignorantly equated with Satan. This West African denunciation of the python, the local version of the god Chaka calls Lord of the Deep Pool, thereby cuts the micro-nation of the Igbo off from all the rebirth of tradition and rebalancing of power that the Continent's snake spirits both symbolize and help to make manifest in the physical world. The reader needs only multiply this microcosmic study of spiritual self-destruction by the hundreds of micro-nations Christianized into attacking their harbinger of renewal and glad tidings, the snake, throughout the Continent, to begin to grasp the ramifications of such culturally violent religious conversion.

Arrow of God presents a traditional Igbo Chief Priest who has sent one of his youngest sons to the local Christian missionary school as a gesture of goodwill and as a spy for his father. But even this trusted emissary son becomes infected by the African convert's frenzy for snake-killing and takes the lead among his colleagues by entrapping a sacred python at home in a box, hoping it will die of suffocation if not directly by his own hand. This act of desecration drives the Chief Priest Ezeulu into a frenzy in which he threatens to kill his own son for so disrespecting the symbol of the region's most ancient god.

Yet, in contrast, in his early autobiographical L'enfant noir, Camara Laye relates growing up in a Muslim home in Guinea where killing an infestation of snakes, ironically driven into the compound by the constant passing of the European train, is commonplace. But even in such an environment of snake intolerance, Laye's father forbids the killing of one particular little black snake that is his personal spirit and harbinger of good fortune, "le genie de notre race [the spirit of our race]" (17). The snake assures Laye's father's tremendous good fortune as the most sought-after and well-respected of the smiths in the region, his praises sung and favor curried by all. The day Laye's father explains the snake's special nature to his adolescent son is the day the boy understands that he, like Ezeulu's sons, will have to choose between European education and the spiritual knowledge and gifts of his own father and his own culture. His father counsels that if Laye wishes to inherit the gifts and powers that the snake gives, he must be around his father and learn to live as his father does:
   I told you all that, little one, because you are my son, the eldest
   of my sons, and there is nothing I will hide from you. There is a
   standard to uphold and certain ways of acting, so that one day the
   spirit of the race will come to you. I myself am in the line of
   descent that the spirit of our race comes to; oh! unconsciously,
   perhaps, but if you want the spirit of our race to visit you one
   day, if you want to inherit it in your turn, you will have to adopt
   these same behaviors; you will have to be around me more, from now
   on. (2) (20) This choice would drive Laye from school; the pressure
   to decide between his African inheritance and the European education
   is terrible for son, father, and mother alike.

   "I am afraid, I'm very afraid, little one, that you will never be
   with me enough. You go to school, and, one day, you will leave that
   school for an even bigger one. You will leave me, little one..."

      And again he sighed. I saw that his heart was heavy. [...]
   Suddenly, he seemed old. [... ] "Father! Father!" I repeated to
   myself. "Father, what must I do, to do the right thing?" And I
   cried silently, I cried myself to sleep. (3) (20-22)

Throughout the course of Arrow of God, Achebe likewise leads the reader through a labyrinth of family dramas, seemingly petty though intense village intrigues, and Ulu's Chief Priest's clashes with local English authorities, as the novel races toward the cataclysmic death of the Chief Priest's most perfect son, Obika, the preferred heir to the priesthood, as he performs his whispering run around the villages. Laye's father's choice is minimized for Ezeulu, Ulu's Chief Priest, in that he has already chosen a younger son to sacrifice to the mission school. Though this son's defection and his commission of a snake-endangering blasphemy is bitter, Ulu has an older son finding his way to the priesthood and the people's salvation. Rising from his humiliation as the son of the high priest beaten like an enslaved man for showing up late to work on the English invaders' road (constructed to carry pillaged spoils out of Nigeria, just as Mofolo's Chaka warned), Obika emerges from his alcohol-induced numbness to become the ideal young man to lead his people back to their healing traditions. The whispering run that he performs at Arrow of God's end is a traditional act that commemorates the creation of Ulu, the god invoked to protect the united villages from invasion by slave traders. The honored ceremonial runner carries his whispered warning throughout the six villages, its traditional words forgotten in the villagers' three centuries of safety.

In Yoruba Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka's words, the runner as "protagonist for the community," an "actor in ritual drama," undergoes "disintegration and re-assembly within the universal womb of origin" as he "experiences the transitional yet inchoate matrix of death and being. Such an actor in the role of protagonist becomes the unresisting mouthpiece of the god, uttering sounds which he barely comprehends but which are reflections of the awesome glimpse of that transitional gulf, the seething cauldron of the dark world-will and psyche" (30). When Obika collapses, already dead, at the end of the hauntingly whispered run, the novel's theme finally becomes clear. "Obika's death shook Umuaro to the roots; a man like him did not come into the world too often" (Achebe 228). Obika's sudden, unforeseen death as he performs the ritualistic warning run, inaugurating the mask that establishes his age-group's achievement of authority and identity in his micro-nation, parallels the Christian concept of sacrificing the sacred son. Ezeulu, Obika's bereaved father, cannot comprehend why his god has responded to his longsuffering loyalty with such apparent betrayal. Why has Ulu, who can take anything, taken the Chief Priest's--the people's--most perfect son, the guarantee of another generation of villagers who would venerate Ulu?
   At any other time Ezeulu would have been more than a match to his
   grief. He would have been equal to any pain not compounded with
   humiliation. But why, he asked himself again and again, why had Ulu
   chosen to deal thus with him, to strike him down and then cover him
   with mud? What was his offence? Had he not divined the god's will
   and obeyed it? (229)

What Ezeulu cannot understand is the genius of Achebe's conception as enacted by Ulu's apparent betrayal of his high priest's trust; Ulu's self-destructive annihilation of his own religion uncovers a deeper possibility of traditionalist theology. Not only does the Cosmogram represent the intermingling of those aspects of the universe known to Africans before the violent return of their European cousins to the Continent; now that Europe's settlers have returned to their motherland with violence, to ravage and dominate, the Cosmogram encircles them and redefines their upheaval. In Arrow of God, Achebe helps us posit the unsuspected and the unthinkable, exactly what the French Roman Catholic fathers denied Mofolo the opportunity to explore with his recasting of the history of Chaka. Was it such besieged, resentful, emotionally exhausted and maddened spiritual powers as Ulu who called to the furthest corners of the unknown world, to bring to Africa's shores a ravaging ally against the universally worshipped snake god and the entrenched traditions that made up his worship? Did Europeans come to ravage Africa not out of their own greed but because African powers, spiritual powers, brought them?

Has Ulu destroyed his own religion, his own high priest, and the son who is the heir to his own priesthood, in order to transform all of them into the image of the ascendant religion of the European conquerors? For now, every man in Ulu's six villages brings a yam from his harvest not to the shrine of Ulu but to the Christian church in fear of Ulu's wrath. In this way, at last, Ulu's circuitous tangle of events has resulted in the people's dismissing of the snake god in their fear of the admittedly greater power of Ulu. "In his extremity, many a man sent his son with a yam or two to offer to the new religion and to bring back the promised immunity. Thereafter any yam harvested in his fields was harvested in the name of the son" (Achebe 230). Which son? Not Jesus, the Son of the Christian God, but Obika, the Son of Ezeulu and all of Umuaro. All the six villages' men now harvest in obeisance to the sacrificed Obika, the idealized young man cut down from earthly ascension to the priesthood to ascend to the apex of the hierarchy in the spiritual world, where he will beg to intercede for the people to the all-powerful god: Ulu.

Obika, the heir to the priesthood of Ulu, stands in place of the unknown and popularly rejected concept of Christ. Only outcasts and opportunists accept Christianity until Ulu himself drives his people en masse, in fear of starvation and sudden, relentless death, to the new religion, where not love of Christ but fear of Ulu is the motive for membership. Ulu is, following this turn of events, at last, the only god feared and appeased by his people, who neither worship nor have any concept of the distant, foreign Christian god. Ulu has used and destroyed his priest, the nurturing, loyal father, when he sacrificed the perfect son, Obika, to inaugurate a transforming change of religion that leaves Ulu alone and supreme in the hearts of the people, at the head of the new, invading church.

But, whether called by the spirits of the Continent entangled in timeless internecine strife, or autonomously propelled by the avaricious Western European traditions of pillage and appropriation, European colonization nevertheless serves to manifest in the physical world a spiritual reality that is distorted and grotesque. From the physical resemblance to a castrato of Nnu Ego's domestic servant husband in Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood to Ocol's death-mask girlfriend in Okot p'Bitek's Song of Lawino, the African manifestations of the values and education of the colonized world seek out and destroy what is healthy and vibrant about traditional African cultures. These literary Europeanized Africans degrade what was high and noble to the level of self-denigrating, self-destructive, or even zombie-like servitude to European colonizers. In The Joys of Motherhood, Nnu Ego, doubly a princess by descent, finds herself married to a man who has been not only figuratively but physically distorted so that he resembles a castrated eunuch. Nnu Ego's husband, Nnaife, is proud of his servitude to an English colonizing couple, for whom he washes by hand the wife's undergarments, including her menstrual cloths. Here is not only the nightmare of servitude Chaka foretold to the warriors who murdered him and who feared the rebirth of his legacy; here is also the meaning of that servitude. For these former warriors have been castrated into roles analogous to those of battle-captured, enslaved widows. When the throneless twentieth-century princess Nnu Ego arrives in the city of Lagos to meet her second husband, Nnaife, "in walked a man with a belly like a pregnant cow":
   The belly, coupled with the fact that he was short, made him look
   like a barrel. His hair, unlike that of men at home in Ibuza, was
   not closely shaved; he left a lot of it on his head, like that of a
   woman mourning for her husband. His skin was pale, the skin of
   someone who had for a long time worked in the shade and not in the
   open air. His cheeks were puffy and looked as if he had pieces of
   hot yam inside them, and they seemed to have pushed his mouth into
   a smaller size above his weak jaw [...]. Why, marrying such a jelly
   of a man would be like living with a middle-aged woman! (42)

The only time Nnaife asserts manliness is in his immediate, precipitate rape of the fallen princess, Nnu Ego. The act is intended to claim her, enforce upon her body and her mind her new state of degraded subjugation: "She was used to her long wiry Amatokwu who would glide inside her when she was ready, not this short, fat, stocky man, whose body almost crushed hers" (44). Nnu Ego's new husband, castrated by his servitude to the Europeans who have overrun his homeland, means to teach his contemptuous wife that, no matter how low her husband has sunk, she is still further below him on the sociofamilial scale; he may thereby keep her from exercising her contempt for him by leaving him. "After that experience, Nnu Ego knew why horrible-looking men raped women, because they are aware of their inadequacy" (44). The sexual savagery of colonized men likewise fuels the title story of Bessie Head's The Collector of Treasures and Other Botswana Village Tales: "It was as though he was hideous to himself and in an effort to flee his own inner emptiness, he spun away from himself in a dizzy kind of death dance of wild destruction and dissipation [...]. 'Our men do not think that we need tenderness and care'" (92, 89). Gone are the Igbo traditions of expecting a wife to protect her own dignity by leaving her husband if he is unfaithful, as in Flora Nwapa's Efuru, or if he is violent, as in Achebe's Arrow of God.

The issue of carefully regulated marital accord degenerating into hierarchical abuse with colonization crosses the Continent from south to north, from west to east. When Uganda's visionary epic poet, Okot p'Bitek, has his fictional Acoli wife address her brainwashed English-educated husband, trying to re-establish his respect for traditional values and love for his African people, the internally embattled husband lashes out with verbal and emotional abuse. Like Nwapa's Efuru from the micro-nation of the Igbo, p'Bitek's Lawino from the micro-nation of the Acoli is willing to accept another woman in her husband's life, if relations between all parties, the husband and both wives, remain respectful. But Lawino is appalled by her husband's tradition-breaking orgy of verbal and emotional abuse and by the death-like girlfriend that her husband has embraced in his destructive zombie-state, returned to her and to Uganda from English education as though from an evil enchantment. The metaphors are explicitly magical: "She resembles the wild cat / That has dipped its mouth in blood" (37), a vampire, and a witch. "Tina dusts powder on her face / And it looks so pale; / She resembles the wizard / Getting ready for the midnight dance" (37), a walking skeleton, risen from the dead: "And when she walks / You hear her bones rattling" (40). The traditional life-bringing African female mythatypical images of bee and tree degenerate, in reference to Ocol's new lover, into the pain-bringing "hornet" who is "dead dry / Like a stump" and animated by the bloody power of animal sacrifice (40).
   But the woman
   With whom I share my husband
   Does not wash her head;
   The head of the beautiful one
   Smells like rats
   That have fallen into the fireplace.
   And she uses
   Powerful perfumes
   To overcome the strange smells,
   As they treat a pregnant coffin! (55)

Lawino's description of the woman who rivals her for influence over her husband gives the reader the chilling impression that Englishness has exercised witchcraft over Ocol similar to the blinding, suffocating influence that Isanusi and his fiendish minions wielded over Chaka. Isanusi and his demonic assistants isolated their powerful victim, and in that mental and emotional solitude induced Chaka to view those who loved him with paranoid suspicion. This inculcated mistrust warped the destined leader's good-natured bravery into blood frenzy. Similarly, the English seem to have isolated Ocol, fallen and self-hating "Son of the Chief (34), while he studied in England. English racism against Africans has ensorcelled Ocol's mind: "He says we are all Kaffirs" (35), sending him back to his homeland self-hating and destructive of the very people he was raised to protect and guide:
   My husband pours scorn
   On Black People,
   He behaves like a hen
   That eats its own eggs
   A hen that should be imprisoned under a basket. (25)

The minion who accompanies Ocol to make sure he remains enchanted by the English is his Europeanized African girlfriend, Tina, the skeletal, burned-hairwearing, bloody-lipped, face-powdered caricature of an African woman that Lawino describes as a wizard, accompanying her perception of English dancers as a group of lewd, frightening wizards.

P'Bitek posits that it is men such as Ocol, internally destroyed by his ingestion of the concepts that are a poisonous residue of colonialism's heyday, who will become the leaders of the pillaged African nations to which they bring home their anti-traditional Europeanized values and pro-colonialist methods of restructuring Africa's annihilated societies. Here, p'Bitek exposes the tragedy revealed by African writers such as Ngugi wa Thiong'o in A Grain of Wheat: it was Africans educated by and loyal to European administrative and economically colonizing powers who, by and large, wrested control of the governments of the fabricated nations that ousted European powers left behind on the Continent.

Ocol's leadership is not Chaka's consistently bloody and increasingly evil reversal of Sundiata's empire-forming, good choices. Chaka represents Sundiata's evil series of alternatives that nevertheless result in a united--and greater--micro-nation or empire. Chaka's and Sundiata's differences highlight the importance of freewill in the formation of destiny. Both their destinies as emperors are fated, irrevocable. Ocol, on the other hand, represents African leadership so bastardized as to have fallen into the hands of someone visionless and self-loathing, bent on the further splintering and shattering of his people, not their unification and empowerment, however bloody. Lawino fruitlessly counsels Ocol:
   Listen Ocol, my old friend,
   The ways of your ancestors
   Are good,
   Their customs are solid
   And not hollow
   They are not thin, not easily breakable
   They cannot be blown away
   By the winds
   Because their roots reach deep into the soil. (41)

In her autobiographical analysis of issues confronting the Continent in the twenty-first century, Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai explains that "the first generation of postindependence leaders were all born subjects of European powers. [...] One might argue that, when they looted the treasury and the natural resources at the expense of their own people and country, or made it easy for others to do the same, they were only doing what their former masters had taught them to do" (45). Thus, it becomes clear that p'Bitek's vision is not of Lawino's self-loathing husband Ocol as a singular phenomenon but as a Continent-wide plague among the African nations artificially forged by opportunistic and abandoning European colonialist powers.

And what of the self-sacrificing curative strength of long-suffering traditional women such as Lawino, trying to return their brainwashed men, the sole people in a position of power to lead African nations during the second half of the twentieth century, to cultural and personal health? From Emecheta's disintegration of the proud African woman from an Efuru-like Ona to a beatendown Nnu Ego in The Joys of Motherhood, to the miserable mother Miriamu in Ngugi's The River Between, to Tsitsi Dangarembga's miserable, highly educated Maiguru in Nervous Conditions, increasingly educated African women find themselves incapable of settling for the degraded subservience expected of them in their doubly hierarchized societies and homes.

As highly educated as her violent husband, Babamukuru, Maiguru finds herself dispossessed of every cent she earns as a teacher, incapable of directing the use of her money or the treatment of her children. In her daughter Nyasha's suicidal life and the hard-won stoicism of her niece Tambu's dogged determination to survive, the limited roles prescribed for African women in the wake of European colonization play out the limits of women's alternatives. Men, subjected to cultural stripping and alienation from community and self, inflict a sterilizing destructiveness on their societies that results in a denatured female half of the African continent, whose only hope for survival may perhaps lie in eschewing marriage and reproduction, the lesson earlier hinted at in the misery of The Joys of Motherhood. Thus, the self-hatred engendered in European-educated African men's vying for leadership of the artificially constructed nations European colonizers left behind, trickles from macrogovernment into the most intimate relations within each African family. Babamukuru drives his daughter Nyasha to her death as steadily and brutishly as Ngugi' s Joshua drives his tradition-loving daughter, Muthoni, to her death in exile in The River Between.

Nyasha, raised in England, is incapable of seeing Europeans as a superior race or Africans as an inferior one; she knows all too well the explosively divisive tactics of divide-and-conquer. Chronically thrust outside the paradigms of privilege, studying them as a lonely scholar, she is equally incapable of believing that African men should have more freedoms and prerogatives than African women. Therefore, she foresees and cannot look forward to living underneath the suffocating layers of oppressive hierarchies that she knows she will be expected to accept and conform to, as an African woman in colonized Rhodesia.

Nyasha understands but has no internalized emotional tools to help her resist or recover from colonialist denaturalization. Nyasha, self-starving, hungers for her traditional Shona culture that she is now too Europeanized to even begin to internalize, other than her affection for the tiny clay pots she made from river mud back in her father's village, a symbolic grasping at her spiritual and genealogical roots, which she destroys when she suffers her violent mental and emotional breakdown.

Nyasha was beside herself with fury. She rampaged, shredding her history book between her teeth ("Their history. Fucking liars. Their bloody lies."), breaking mirrors, her clay pots, anything she could lay her hands on and jabbing the fragments viciously into her flesh, stripping the bedclothes, tearing the clothes from the wardrobe and trampling them underfoot. "They've trapped us. They've trapped us. But I won't be trapped. I'm not a good girl. I won't be trapped." Then as suddenly as it came, the rage passed. "I don't hate you, Daddy," she said softly. "They want me to, but I won't." (Dangarembga 201)

This sensation of self-estrangement suffered by the colonialist-educated African--what Nyasha describes as "They've deprived you of you, him of him, ourselves of each other" (200)--Wangari Maathai recounts as "this dislocation between who I was and what I was educated to be" (163). Dangarembga shows European-educated African women learning within two generations that personal survival is antithetic to the imprisoning double binds left between the rock of European hierarchical family structures and the hard place of distorted and misapplied African traditions.

Women's resultant rejection of these constricting, subservient roles assures the self-sterilizing of the African continent and its people's dreams of cultural resurrection under the newest incarnation of powers such as Sundiata's. For it was mothers who birthed and nurtured in exile such predestined emperors as Sundiata and Chaka, leaders who could construct powerful empires out of cowardice, fragmentation, waste, and devastation. If women flee the colonialist imprisonment of Christianized African marriage and motherhood, then where is hope for the Continent?

Perhaps the new hope is found in such visions as those expressed by the young voice steeped in the bizarre double-world of the spirit and the worst excesses of the material in Ben Okri's The Famished Road. The voice of Okri's spirit-child promises a return to the flow of the river that nourishes, for which the road of progress hungers and seeks. Winner of the Booker Prize for Fiction, Okri's otherworldly exploration of the material world through the eyes of a spirit-child begins with a fable: "In the beginning there was a river. The river became a road and the road branched out to the whole world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry. In that land of beginnings spirits mingled with the unborn" (3). Okri's opening folktale gives the reader a glimpse of the genius of ages that returns again and again to the world as "the love of transformation, and the transformation of love into higher realities" (3-4). But that badly needed genius will only be glimpsed in snatches for the remainder of the book. The central tale will chronicle the travails of a spirit-child determined to stay with his beleaguered, impoverished Nigerian mother, despite the rigors of life in a nation fabricated by an ousted European power and bloody with the civil strife of its African leaders' contending for power. The spirit-child, Azaro, will even learn to resist the violent efforts of his fellow spirits to kill him and bring him home: "It was a face that made me want to stay. I wanted to make happy the bruised face of the woman who would become my mother" (5). Azaro, the spirit-child, opens the novel lost from his mother and his home during a riot after their slum tenement burns in the night. In finding his way home to his loving, lamenting mother and coming to understand and love his violent, frustrated father, Azaro learns that the cycles and sufferings of his colonized, broken world parallel the tumultuous existence of the individual spirit-child, pulled in and out of conflicting realities.
   The spirit-child is an unwilling adventurer into chaos and
   sunlight, into the dreams of the living and the dead. Things that
   are not ready, not willing to be born or to become, things for
   which adequate preparations have not been made to sustain their
   momentous births, things that are not resolved, things bound up
   with failure and with fear of being, they all keep recurring, keep
   coming back, and in themselves partake of the spirit-child's
   condition. They keep coming and going until their time is right.
   History itself fully demonstrates how things of the world partake
   of the condition of the spirit-child. (487)

Watching his mother, representative of the loving Ifa goddess of the river, Osun, Azaro has come to understand self-sacrifice while learning to have compassion for his father, representative of Ogun, the god who forges metals and the violent progress represented by civilization's road, the god who, Soyinka writes, "came to represent the creative-destructive principle" (28). Having learned, by the novel's end, to love his unlovable father and resist escapism, Azaro calls the reader, too, to resist the escapism of "this road of our refusal to be" and throw himself into the self-sacrifice of transformative change. "They all yearn to make of themselves a beautiful sacrifice, a difficult sacrifice, to bring transformation, and to die shedding light within this life, setting the matter ready for their true beginnings to cry into being, scorched by the strange ecstasy of the will ascending to say yes to destiny and illumination" (Okri 488). Azaro's tale brings the lesson that, like Achebe's Ulu, the force of the god of the road, Ogun the blacksmith, is a force that attracts what is similar to it, regardless of race, and cannot help but propel that likeness toward itself.

If Ogun's nature, to slash away wilderness and catalyze change in the form of violent civilization, could not help but draw Europeans to the African continent, much as Ulu drew them to his competition against the snake god, then the next call must be to take that dynamic, volatile energy and redirect it toward positive, unifying, and peace-inducing goals. The story of Ogun, wildly destroying the forest until the calming advent of Osun, teaches that the destructive urgency of the God of the Road maddens him without the balancing love and tenderness of the Goddess of the River. This curbing of a tendency toward violence and redirecting this energy toward positive transformation is what Azaro's father, Black Tiger--a name that hints at his affinity with the spirit-king's cat-like genius for transformation--struggles to learn to do. Black Tiger, and by extrapolation, every man of the Continent and the Diaspora disempowered by economic slavery, can only channel his angry violence toward self-transformation when he is guided, and, when necessary, resisted by the selfless love of Azaro's mother and the sin-covering empathy of Azaro, his son. This forgiveness of and allegiance to father and family is relearned only through great suffering at the end of The Famished Road, just as it has been learned by the dying Nyasha and Muthoni. Now the reader understands the dogged analytical arguments Lawino's epic poem aims at her husband, to bring him to his right mind, to rescue him from colonialist brainwashing, which she correctly perceives as an enchantment in the sinister sense of losing one's soul to a maleficent other's possession, such as Mofolo's Isanusi perpetrated on Chaka, and Ngugi's missionaries perpetrated on the abusive Joshua.

If Black Tiger as Africa's twenty-first century Everyone is symbolic of the new leader, rather than the predestined kings of legend, then Ogun is a fitting role model for the tasks that confront the individual desirous of transforming violent drive into positive self-realization. For, as Soyinka writes, "Ogun is the embodiment of challenge [...] constantly at the service of society for its full self-realisation" (30). Maathai summarizes this epiphany of self-understanding and the return of cultural pride--if not knowledge--when she explains:
   Recalling what my grandparents told me of the history of our
   community, I began to realize that, unlike what I had been taught,
   much of what occurred in Africa before colonialism was good. [...]
   [T]he leaders were accountable to their people, who were able to
   feed, clothe, and house themselves. People carried their cultural
   practices, stories, and sense of the world around them in their
   oral traditions, which were rich and meaningful. They lived in
   harmony with the other species and the natural environment, and
   they protected that world.

      [...] They lived within a community full of rituals, ceremonies,
   and expressions of their connection to the land and their culture;
   they didn't feel alienated or adrift in a meaningless, highly
   materialistic world that assigns value only in dollars and cents,
   because their world was animated by the spirit of God. They took
   what they needed for their own quality of life, but didn't
   accumulate and destroy in the process--and they did all this so
   that future generations would survive and thrive. (161-62)

The Famished Road's challenge is to each individual who, like Black Tiger, in this rapidly changing age, is constantly effecting a tremendous impact on his environment, like Ogun, who "experienced the process of being literally torn asunder in cosmic winds, of rescuing himself from the precarious edge of total dissolution by harnessing the untouched part of himself, the will" (Soyinka 30). Can the reader willingly take on the vulnerability of Black Tiger's spirit-child, Azaro, embracing the pain of giving oneself over to "the challenge to grow and learn and love, to master one's self; the possibilities of a new pact with one's spirit; the probability that no injustice lasts for ever, no love ever dies, that no light is ever really extinguished, that no true road is ever complete, that no way is ever definitive, no truth ever final, and that there are never really any beginnings or endings?" (Okri 488). These canonical African texts, in dynamic exchange with each other and their readers, demonstrate the enormous responsibility of each individual faced each day and at every crossroad with the weight of taking responsibility for the state of all that exists in every world: the worlds of spirits and humans, of the past and present, of the ancestors and our progeny.

Fanon's litany against his famous "nervous condition" of the colonized is the assertive proclamation that "I am not a prisoner of History. [... ] In the world where I make my way, I ceaselessly create myself. [...] I am not enslaved by the Slavery that dehumanized my forefathers. [...] The density of History determines none of my actions" (186, 187). (4) Fanon, instead, philosophically restates his historically inherited burden of pain and tortured self-concept as the gaining of the asset of wisdom, hard-earned: "The misfortune of the man of color is to have been enslaved. [...] I, a man of color, want only one thing: [...] That the servitude of man by man shall cease forever" (187). (5) The multi-layered messages of African literature offer us the lesson that we are all charged, like both the insightful narrative voice of Fanon and of p'Bitek's educationally brainwashed Ocol, with responsibility for restoring what was best about traditional perspectives and values to a world inescapably changed by the centuries-old genocidal pillaging and plundering of humanity's birthplace.

Over a millennium before the European colonialist onslaught--whichever powers brought them to Africa's shores: Ulu, Ogun, the irascible and jealous Jehovah of missionary Christianity, or whatever spirit animates conscienceless and rapacious greed--we were all beseeched by the messages of the Gnostic Gospels hidden in the sands of Nag Hammadi:
   In my weakness, do not forsake me,
   and do not be afraid of my power.
   Give heed then, you hearers
   and you also, the angels and those who have been sent,
   and you spirits who have arisen from the dead.
   For I am the one who alone exists,
   and I have no one who will judge me. (Robinson 299, 303)

Africa's literary canon proves to be a conversation between cultures, epochs, and worlds about the self-sacrificial restoring of order in the wake of devastation's chaos, a healthy reintegration of empowering, gender-balancing traditional African roles, morals, and values into the shattered fabric of twenty-first-century, truly post-colonialist societies.

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Arrow of God. New York: Anchor, 1974. Print.

Baha'u'llah. The Kitab-i-Iqan: The Book of Certitude. Trans. Shoghi Effendi. Wilmette: Baha'I, 1974. Print.

Dangarembga, Tsitsi. Nervous Conditions. Seattle: Seal, 1989. Print.

Ellis, Normandi, trans. Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Book of the Dead. Grand Rapids: Phanes, 1988. Print.

Emecheta, Buchi. The Joys of Motherhood. New York: George Braziller, 1979. Print.

Fanon, Frantz. Peau noire, masques blancs [Black Skin, White Masks]. Paris: Seuil, 1952. Print.

Fatunmbi, Awo Fa'lokun. Esu-Elegba: Ifa and the Divine Messenger. Plainview: Original, 1992. Print.

Head, Bessie. The Collector of Treasures and Other Botswana Village Tales. Oxford: Heinemann, 1992. Print. African Writers Ser.

Laye, Camara. L'enfant noir [The Black Child]. Paris: Plon, 1976. Print.

Maathai, Wangari. The Challenge for Africa. New York: Pantheon, 2009. Print.

Mofolo, Thomas. Chaka. Trans. Daniel P. Kunene. Oxford: Heinemann, 1981. Print.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o. The River Between. London: Heinemann, 1980. Print.

Niane, D. T. Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali [Soundjata, ou l 'Epopee Mandingue]. Trans. G. D. Pickett. Essex: Longman, 1994. Print.

Nwapa, Flora. Efuru. Oxford: Heinemann, 1978. Print.

Okri, Ben. The Famished Road. New York: Anchor, 1993. Print.

P'Bitek, Okot. Song of Lawino & Song of Ocol. Oxford: Heinemann, 1984. Print.

Robinson, James M., ed. The Nag Hammadi Library in English. San Francisco: Harper, 1990. Print.

Soyinka, Wole. Myth, Literature and the African World. Cambridge: Canto, 2005. Print.

Wahlman, Maude Southwell. Signs and Symbols: African Images in African-American Quilts. New York: Penguin, 1993. Print.


The translations are mine with the original quotations provided.

(1.) "Millions d'hommes a qui on a inculque savamment la peur, le complexe d'inferiorite, le tremblement, l'agenouillement, le desespoir, le larbinisme."

(2.) "Je t'ai dit tout cela, petit, parce que tu es mon fils, l'aine de mes fils, et que je n'ai rien a te cacher. Il y a une maniere de conduite a tenir et certaines facons d'agir, pour qu'un jour le genie de notre race se dirige vers toi aussi. J'etais, moi, dans cette ligne de conduite qui determine notre genie a nous visiter; oh! inconsciemment peutetre, mais toujours est-il que si tu veux que le genie de notre race te visite un jour, si tu veux en heriter a ton tour, il faudra que tu adoptes ce meme comportement; il faudra desormais que tu me frequentes d'avantage."

(3.) "J'ai peur, j'ai bien peur, petit, que tu ne me frequentes jamais assez. Tu vas a l'ecole et, un jour, tu quitteras cette ecole pour une plus grande. Tu me quitteras, petit...

Et de nouveau il soupira. Je voyais qu'il avait le coeur lourd. [...] Il me parut soudain comme vielli. [...] <<Pere! ... Pere! ... me repetais-je. Pere, que dois-je faire pour bien faire? ....>> Et je pleurais silencieusement, je m'endormis en pleurant."

(4.) "Je ne suis pas prisonnier de l'Histoire. [...] Dans le monde ou je m'achemine, je me cree interminablement. [... ] Je ne suis pas esclave de l'Esclavage qui deshumanisa mes peres. [...] La densite de l'Histoire ne determine aucun de mes actes."

(5.) "Le malheur de l'homme de couleur est d'avoir ete esclavagise. [...] Moi, l'homme de couleur, je ne veux qu'une chose: [...] Que cesse a jamais l'asservissement de l'homme par l'homme."
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Author:de Vita, Alexis Brooks
Publication:Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Sep 22, 2010
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