SELF AND IDENTITY IN AFRICAN AND CARIBBEAN LITERATURES

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ABSTRACT


The brutality of the transatlantic slave trade and colonization left one intransigent problem in its wake – the absence of authentic self-knowledge in the continental Africans and Africans in diaspora. The slave masters and colonialists portray African culture as negative and irrelevant to make Africans and the Caribbean people have no alternative but to assimilate and conform to the colonial paradigm. The European slave and colonial masters employ the technique of imposing their culture on Africans and African diasporans so that they would brainwash black men, erase their culture from their memory as well as restrain the people from attacking the imposing of imperial dominance over the blacks. They know that knowledge is power and in subtle ways, they want the African voice to be kept in perpetual silence so that Africans would be in perpetual slavery. Africa and Africans throughout the world fight to regain their individual and native selves. This self and identity spread across the span of human history, both oral and written literature and the discourse appear to speak to a desire for a fully realized identity/personality. In this research we examine through some African and Caribbean literary texts how the continental/diasporan Africans’ lives and literatures, both past and present, have been frequently defined by the people’s desire to create and recreate themselves. In this research exploration into African and Caribbean literature we also expose the identification and assertion of the individual and native self of the black people by delving into the social mechanisms, traditional and modern, that have contributed to their survival. We also have a result that victims of lavishly resourced and sophisticated abuse can rebound with energy, humour and even as readiness to forgive. We have a result that improves the lives of the black people by rehabilitation of African culture and also help in the decolonization of the African mind. Africans are made to see the need to avoid all perspectives that make African interest subordinate to non-African interest. The information about the survival strategies deployed by the blacks to the evil effect of slavery, colonialism, racism, apartheid and marginalization in the past can help predict what activities the blacks would use to fight for their rights in future. It would help in preserving the best in the intellectual resources of the human mind for future living.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page
Abstract
Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction
1.1       Background of the Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Scope of the Study
1.4       Purpose of the Study
1.6       Significance of the Study

Chapter Two: Review of Literature
2.1       Conceptual Framework
2.2       Related Literature
2.3       Summary of Literature

Chapter Three: Research Methodology
3.1       Literature and Source
3.2       Theoretical Framework
3.3       Methodology

Chapter Four: Signifiers of Self and Identity in the Selected Literary Works
4.1       Signifiers of Self and Identity in African Literary Works
4.2       Signifiers of Self and Identity in Caribbean Literary Works
4.3       Racism and Racial Discrimination and the Fight for Political Freedom as
            Represented in South African Literature
4.4       Exile, Racial Discrimination and the Fight for Freedom as Represented in
            Caribbean Literature
4.5       Fragmentation and Quest for the Primordial Self in African Literature
4.6       Fragmentation and the Search for the Primordial Self in Caribbean Literature

Chapter Five: Feminism/Womanism and Identity in African and Caribbean Literatures
5.1       Feminism and Self-Assertion in African Literature
5.2       Female Voice, Subjectivity in Caribbean Literature
5.2       Womanism and Identity in Caribbean Literature

Chapter Six: Point of Convergence in African and Caribbean Authors’ Expression of Self and Identity
6.1.      African and Caribbean Authors’ Application of the Literary Tools in Expressing Self and Identity
6.2       Some Common Motifs that Inspired and Aided African and Caribbean
            Authors’ Expression of Self and Identity
6.2.1    Nature, Landscape Established by the British Colonial Masters
6.2.2    Rehabilitation of Culture through Language
6.2.3    Native Names and Self Assertion
6.2.4    Clash of Culture and the Bid to Seek for Individual and National Identity
6.2.5    Different Black Movements or Groups and their Influence in the Black Man’s
            Self Assertion and Identity
6.2.6    Exile, Physical and Psychological Oppression and Exploitation
6.2.7    N├ęgritude and the Connection to Africanness
6.2.8    Primordial Self and the Reconnection to the Ancestors through Culture
6.2.9    Journey Back to the Past through Memory
6.2.10  Redefining Feminism and Womanism
6.3       Conclusion and Recommendation
Works Cited


CHAPTER ONE


INTRODUCTION


1.1       Background of the Study

‘African’ as a word connotes a person from Africa, especially a black person, while the ‘Caribbean’ is the region consisting of the Caribbean Sea and its Islands, including the West Indies and the coasts which surround it. Its inhabitants are mostly of the black African descent and extraction. African descents are those who directly came from Africa or their parents came from Africa. The extracts are those who are born through the intermarriages between the blacks and the whites.

From the 16th to 19th centuries the Europeans came down to Africa to capture and purchase slaves. These slaves were taken to Europe to work in the plantations because the Europeans needed the strong breed (Africans) to work in their plantations. Some of these slaves ended up in the Caribbean Islands. In order to justify slavery and keep the blacks in perpetual slavery, the whites told these slaves that they were cursed because of the colour of their skin and they were created to serve the whites. These blacks were discriminated against and subjected to racist attitudes. The whites did everything possible to make the blacks seem inferior. The blacks were oppressed and tortured to make them really believe their inferiority. These slaves therefore developed the plantation mentality.


Colonization is another factor that put Africans and African descents into another form of slavery because they were taken as inferior human beings. European nations colonized many of the African societies and the Caribbean islands, and as a result had political and economic power and control over these nations. The colonizers introduced hegemonic educational system to these Africans in which they were taught the European ethos without their studying African culture. Due to this hegemony, the European colonial masters imposed their culture on Africans and the Caribbean people and it succeeded in reshaping their cultural and political lives. Chike Aniakor in his ‘Global Changes in Africa and Indigenous Knowledge: Towards Its Integration and Contestations’ (2011) calls it the ‘subtle practices of racial and hegemonic discourse of western imperial dominance over the people by sustaining and displacing the epistemological voices of African people’ (56). Aniakor further stresses that Africans are made to embrace westernization, to uphold it, without addressing its uncertainties for development options when not anchored on the African dream and indigenous knowledge. This makes Africans to study Europe, without actually studying themselves. The erasure of indigenous knowledge made the history of Africa to be seen as greatly coloured by the history of colonial rule and experience. The colonial masters painted the picture of Africa and its people as they liked and circulated the postscript to the world. The Europeans employed this technique so that they would brainwash the blacks, erase every bit of their culture from their memory as well as restrain the people from attacking the imposition of imperial dominance over them. They knew that knowledge is power and in subtle ways, they wanted the African voice to be kept in perpetual silence. Their intention was to hold on African lands for ever therefore they suppressed the people so that they would not fight for their independence. Some of these blacks were turned into fake ‘white men’ and Aniakor points out that they are the kind of people who accept the white man’s pronouncement on them and see themselves as inferior.

As the colonial masters privileged European culture to the detriment of African indigenous cultures both in continental Africa and in diaspora, the cultural life of the indigenous society was destroyed and African interests were made subordinate to the European interests. This destruction led to inferiority complex and identity crisis among other negative effects. This acculturation due to lack of self knowledge turned most of the blacks into white look-alike. They thought that turning into ‘white men’ would make them be taken as real human beings by the whites. The blacks were forced to imitate or.....


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