Headline, August 16 2022/ IMPERIALISM : ''' '' AFTER LIVES AFORE '' '''


 ''' '' AFTER LIVES AFORE '' '''

IMPERIALISM ILLUMINATED BY THE PEN OF A NOBELIST. In his 1961 book, ''The Wretched of the Earth,'' the French psychiatrist and political philosopher Frantz Fanon wrote that :

''The settler only ends his work of breaking in the native when the latter admits loudly and intelligibly the supremacy of the white man's values.''

Abdulrazak Gurnah's superb 10th novel, ''Afterlives'' - his first to be published in America since his work went out of print - decades ago - proves this theory true, through the interwoven stories of three protagonists in an unnamed coastal town in German East Africa in the early 1900s, a period when virtually all of the continent ''belonged to Europeans, at least on a map : British East Africa, Deutch Ostafrika, Africa Oriental Portguesa, Congo Belge.''

At the center of the novel is Afiya, an orphan who is rescued from her abusive caretakers by her long-lost brother, Ilyas, who has himself endured kidnapping by German colonial troops before receiving his education in a German mission school.

Through Ilyas's best friend, a half-Indian merchant named Khalifa, Afiya's story intersects with that of Hamza, a taciturn ex-soldier who arrives in town still scarred from his time in the colonial army.

In this story as in history, the German empire is a living, breathing organism with a desire to grow and reproduce and, if threatened, fight for its survival at all costs. Gurnah depicts the White man's racism plainly : ''I was born into a military tradition and this is my duty,'' a German officer says to Hamza.

''That's why I am here - to take possession of what rightfully belongs to us .... We are dealing with backward and savage people and the only way to rule them is to strike terror into them.''

To do their bidding, the Germans dispatch a band of African recruits called the Askari to torture villagers and slaughter local chiefs who dare to resist. The askari are so merciless in pursuing their white master's cause that they '' Left the land devastated, its people starving and dying in the hundreds of thousands.''

Regardless of whether these young men joined the army willingly or by coercion, they fight for the imperialists with a ''with a blind and murderous embrace of a cause whose origins they did not know and whose ambitions were vain and ultimately intended for their domination.''

Early in the story, the kind and sympathetic Ilyas - who has spent a taking care of his little sister, teaching her to read and write and showering her with affection - decides to volunteer in the German effort against the British in World War 1.

The reader is as disturbed and shocked as Afiya, for whom the last year has ''felt like the happiest time of her life.'' Gurnah reveals the ensuing sequence of events slowly and expertly, his tone abounding in empathy and devoid of judgment, even as the ramifications of Ilyas's choice grow in magnitude over the years and decades.

Of course, Ilyas is unaware of both the damage he is causing and the damage that nine years in German captivity caused to his own heart and mind.

Like Fanon, Gurnah knows what the European imperialists did to African bodies in many ways pales by comparison with what they did to African minds. When Ilyas defends the Germans, calling them ''honorable and civilized people'' who have done much good since they have been here,'' another local says bluntly :

''My friend, they have eaten you.'' Similarly, when Ilyas announces to Khalifa that he will be volunteering in the army, Khalifa gives the response every sane 21st century African would give :

'' Are you mad? What has this to do with you? This is between two violent and vicious invaders, one among us and the other to the north. They are fighting over who should swallow us whole.''

Three interwoven stories are set in an unnamed coastal town in German East Africa in the early 1900s.

''Afterlives'' may be an exploration of Imperialism and war and the minor, oft-repeated ones, but it is equally a love story.

The Honour and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Great Books and Writings and History, continues. The World Students Society thanks review author Imbolo Mbue, the author of ''Behold the Dreamers'' and ''How Beautiful We Were.''

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of  the African continent and then the world. See Ya ll prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society - for every subject in the world : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!