Joseph Conrad’s novella is an encapsulation of the experience of colonialism from the point of view of Europeans. Based on his own seafaring voyages across the colonies, Conrad attempts to picture the dichotomy of civility and barbarity. Through the characters of Kurtz, Marlow, the Russian and the natives, a composite picture of colonial Africa is presented.
Chinua Achebe’s controversial critique of Heart of Darkness condemns Conrad as a blatant racist. This is most evident in the fact that the steamboat’s crew is comprised of a native helmsman and twenty ‘cannibals’. There are also sightings of disembodied heads of natives intended to scare trouble-makers. Further depictions of barbarism come in the form of sudden attacks with arrows and spears that the sailors on the boat encounter. Achebe takes particular objection to the manner in which Conrad compares river Thames with river Congo. He remarks sardonically in his essay, “But if it [Thames] were to visit its . . . Read More
The major cultural challenges facing a global enterprise is understanding and adapting to local business customs and norms. In the Real World Case we saw how business in Africa tends to go on at a leisurely pace – a practice that undermines the principles of efficiency and expediency that multi-national enterprises thrive on. Understanding cultural sensibilities and adapting to them requires an open-mind and a flexible management approach. This can prove quite challenging if the top management is too engrained in their B-school trained approach. Often government bureaucracy or red tape can hinder expedient project execution. Red-tape can thus be considered both a cultural and political issue. Another political issue is the state of development. As emerging economies are mostly from the Third World, the available infrastructure can be quite rudimentary. This is a geo-economic challenge, for a majority of the population might be IT illiterate, as reflected in minimal usage of . . . Read More
The novel was originally written in French and later translated to numerous other languages including English. Mostly autobiographical, the novel paints a colourful picture of life in Africa. There are the typical ingredients of African wildlife, traditional tribal culture, belief in hoodoo or black magic, etc. But each of these facets to the novel presented through the personal experience of one individual, abstractly referred in the title as the ‘African Child’. Since the story starts from Laye’s childhood and continues into his maturation and adulthood, the work can be classified as a bildungsroman – the story of growing up. But the focus is not solely on one individual, as Laye fleshes out in detail the dynamics of several key relationships through his life. One of the recurrent themes is Laye’s search for intimacy, which starts in his teenage years and continues to adulthood. Though these relationships are not always successful, they do help . . . Read More
Tony D’Souza is one of the fresh young writers to have emerged in the American literary scene in the last decade. Born to an Indian father and an American Caucasian mother, his mixed racial identity makes a subtle appearance in his works. In his much acclaimed novel Whiteman, for example, the protagonist Jack Diaz, who is an American, leaves to Africa on a humanitarian mission. Ivory Coast is the place of his deputation and the constant Islamic sectarian conflicts of the country provides the backdrop for his stay there. He is part of a team of American volunteers, who take up this difficult challenge so as to help Ivory Coast lift itself out of poverty and backwardness. Not only has he to contend with the mindset of primitive people steeped in orthodoxy, but also survive regular outbreaks of epidemic diseases in the region. For example, some of his colleagues are set back by malarial infections. But much to his frustration and surprise, it is he who ends up a changed . . . Read More
In the readings, different perspectives were given regarding ‘the scramble for Africa’. Colonial scholars of the period propagated the idea that native Africans were somewhat barbaric and backward, and that they need guidance from a more civilized people. This assessment is not totally untrue, for Africa (then and now) remains technologically backward, although cultural backwardness is a subjective call. But colonial scholarship will have to be viewed with skepticism, for often it tends to be propagandistic. The internal dynamics of Europe during the period lends credence to the theory that Africa was just another theatre for European power politics. The ‘scramble for Africa’ happened at a time when advances in Naval technology enabled Britain, Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Portugal, etc to set imperial sights on far off lands. Hence the view that ‘benevolence’ was the basis of European motivations with respect to Africa is factually and logically feeble. To the . . . Read More
The article by Colleen Burke titled Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: A Metaphor of Jungian Psychology is well written, insightful and instructive. The author draws on parallels between the works of two great intellectuals in the form of Joseph Conrad and Carl Gustav Jung. Although Conrad and Jung were not contemporaries, one could see striking resemblances between the theories proposed by them. Indeed, Conrad preceded Jung by a generation, yet there are strong analogues to Jungian Psychology to be witnessed in the works of Conrad, most accessible in the novella The Heart of Darkness. The rest of this essay will delve further into this assertion, by way of underscoring the valid rationale presented by Colleen Burke in her article.
Access to Jung’s views on Africa is to be found in his personal memoirs of his travels within the continent. In his classic memoir Memories, Dreams and Reflections, Jung expounds on the mysteries of African wilderness to that of its . . . Read More
Malaria is one of the most deadly pandemics to threaten human health. It consumes tens of thousands of lives each year in sub-Saharan Africa, most of who are young children. For example, each year close to 400 million people are infected with the disease, of which a million succumb to it. Hence all efforts must be channeled to find a robust vaccine for preventing it. Hence, research in this area is going at an intense pace in recent years. But unfortunately, there are no foolproof vaccines that have been formulated yet. A vaccine by name RTS S/AS01, which was put to trial during 2009, is specifically addressed to vulnerable children in the Third World. One of the reasons why formulating vaccines have proved challenging is due to the constantly adapting nature of malaria parasites. The latter either evolve drug-resistance or the mosquitoes themselves constantly change and become insecticide resistant. It is in this context that the thrust of new research should be based.
The . . . Read More
The granting of foreign aid/ development assistance to developing and underdeveloped countries can often is a challenging task. While these countries definitely need assistance from the developed world, charitable intentions doesn’t necessarily translate into desired outcomes. That is why the decision makers in government and other international financial institutions will have to weigh the pros and cons of each grant and come to a conclusion based on individual cases. The rest of this essay will elaborate the positive and negative factors that facilitate or thwart foreign aid issuance.
Firstly, citizens in donor nations often think of their aid to developing countries as a humanitarian cause. Their intention is to do the morally correct thing and to demonstrate goodwill toward disadvantaged people of the world. Whether this intention is manifest as private philanthrophic aid or government sanctioned aid, it is often regarded as a “gift or a way of acting on . . . Read More
One of the misconceptions in the Occidental discourse on Islam is that the latter is a monolithic entity. Islam has spread far and wide across the planet. It has a significant presence from China in the East to Spain and Northern Africa toward the West. And through this broad range, there is considerable diversity and variety in the expression of the religion. While maintaining the core principles of Islamic law and jurisprudence, each region has assimilated its own local flavor into Islamic practice. Islam not only moves along the cultural scale but also along the temporal one. In the 13 centuries of its existence, the religion has accommodated itself reasonably well with changing Zeitgeist (with a few exceptions). Author Umar Faruq Abd-Allah and Tariq Ramadan state this truth in their respective articles. In a way, they are reiterating Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism, whereby the East is seen as the eternal ‘other’ to the more progressive and liberal . . . Read More
There are several reasons for the protracted and continuing conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, two countries that are situated in the horn of Africa. While Eritrea had been formerly part of the larger Ethiopia, it won its independence in 1993 after thirty years of struggle. Ever since, there have been contentions over territory, trade rules and the usage of common currency. Lack of whole-hearted diplomatic efforts to resolve these issues led to a major war in 1998 which raged on for another two years. As is the norm with international disputes, the International Court in Hague took up the case and conducted a trial. It emerged that Eritrea was the primary culprit in acting aggressively against their neighbor; not only did it break international law but was also the chief provocateur in the conflict. But in subsequent court proceedings, Eritrea had managed successfully to argue its claims for the disputed Badme region. But despite the UN Boundary Commission’s verdict granting . . . Read More