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
While today Congo operates within a Democratic Republic framework, till as recently as 2005 the concept of nationhood is not familiar to the population. The region of Congo had for most part of the twentieth century been ruled by Belgium. And after the withdrawal of Belgian imperial rule in 1960, the region was torn apart by internal civil conflict. A major part of the five decades of sovereignty has been accompanied by political instability, coup-de-tats, party vendetta and lack of economic growth. Hence, the conditions prevailing in Congo’s recent history did not allow the establishment of the idea of a peaceful, stable and functioning nation. When the international community, under the guidance of the United Nations finally brought Congo into the democratic fold, the event was seen as marking a turning point in the country’s tragic history. With the successful completion of its first two general elections in 2006 and 2011, the people of Congo can look forward to . . . Read More
The film Nanook of the North is a pioneering effort by film-maker Robert Flaherty. Released in 1922 and filmed in the immediately preceding years, the film was a tentative experimentation in two genres – ethnography and documentary. At a time when the written word was the primary mode of information dissemination, Nanook of the North attempted to achieve what an ethnographic book on the Eskimo would have done. When motion picture as we know it today was taking its early steps as a medium of popular culture, Flaherty, who called it a non-fiction film, can be credited to have made the first documentary. Looking back at the ninety years since the release of Nanook of the North, one can see vast improvisations in film-making technique and technology. The addition of synchronized sound would be another cornerstone in the history of films. (Ellis & McLane, 2005)
As can be expected in this early example/experimentation with narrative film, there are a few obvious . . . Read More