Societal Perception and Individual Indetermination in Tanure Ojaide’s the Activist: a Postcolonial Examination of Reality in Contemporary African Society

Topics: Africa, Atlantic slave trade, African people Pages: 9 (3114 words) Published: October 30, 2012
The problem of disillusionment is still affecting Africans, no thanks to the effect of imperialism. This makes them believe that the only way to attain their physical and mental essences is by seeking greener pastures. This paper attempts to juxtapose various perceptions and individual indetermination, and what is the reality as Tanure Ojaide captures in The Activist taking cognizance of Lacan’s view that ‘that chapter of my history that is marked by a blank or occupied by a falsehood: it is the censored chapter’ (Goring et al: 435).

The goal of the African literature has been to reposition the African continent from its negative portrayal by the colonial masters. The imperialists showcased African people as naïve. It is this battle that prompted the likes of Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Wole Soyinka to write in defence of the continent through literature. The effort to defend ushered in some confrontations between Western critics and their African counterparts. Nnolim in Issues in African Literature writes,

…the West African novel was born in response to colonial invasion and its abuses which threatened our collective security as a people; it has since then been sustained by reaction to our collective disenchantment with political independence (62).

The success of this battle is far from realization despite that the colonial masters have granted political independence to their various colonies. A postcolonial analysis of independent African nations indicates that although the flag independence has been won, the impact of colonialism is still prevalent both in the psyche and the endevours of Africans. This is shown in the ways that Africans wrongly perceive issues, embrace foreign cultures and discard their own. Shija in Post-Coloniality And The Poetry Of Tanure Ojaide asserts that despite that African nations have got ‘flag-independence’, a majority of the critics are of the opinion that ‘the stigma of colonialism and its attendant conflicts were still in force’ (2). The attendant ‘crisis arising after the coming together of two or more cultures and languages’ (Shija: 4) has had negative effects on societal perception of anything Western on the African continent. Some Africans feel that anything West is superior to black. The efforts of African novelists in tackling this ugly phenomenon are aimed at deconstructing the mentality of Africans. The same goal, according to Darah, informs Achebe’s task on African elite ‘to construct the ideological vehicle that can ferry their nations across the divide that separates neo-colonial Africa from regions of the world that have achieved capitalist modernization’ (xv). This work examines the Societal Perception and Individual Indetermination in Tanure Ojaide’s The Activist: A Post-Colonialist Examination of Reality in Contemporary African Society. Post-colonial literature, according to Oxford Concise Companion to English Literature, …consist of a body of writing emanating from Europe’s former colonies which addresses questions of history, identity, ethnicity, gender, and language….Post-colonial literature, in seeking to awaken political and cultural nationalism, has dwelt on popular revolts against colonial rule, exposing the lie of the fore neglected black heroes…(567)

Bill Aschroft in Shija adds that the term ‘post-colonialism’ embraces ‘all cultures affected by the imperial process from the moment of colonialism to the present day’ because ‘there is continuity of pre-occupation throughout the historical process initiated by the European imperial aggression’ (3). The Activist is a masterpiece of what a typical African society perceives about life and what it is in reality. The character the Activist epitomizes reality and stands in opposition to what the Niger-Deltans think about life, especially how life is overseas. In the novel, he is also able to prove that the making of a successful man is...

Cited: Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. Great Britain: Penguin Books. 1980
Goring, Paul et al
Ojaide, Tanure. The Activist. Lagos: Farafina. 2006
Shija, Terhemba
Aboki Publishers. 2006
Silberman, Charles
Sofola, Zulu. Wedlock of the Gods. Ibadan: Evans Brothers Limited. 1972
Walter, Rodney
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