Analysis Of “An Image Of Africa” Written By Chinua Achebe

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Although it was a beautifully written piece of literary art, yet highly controversial. The literary work tries to assert Achebe’s belief in Joseph Conrad as “a bloody racist “and his certainty that Conrad’s novel “Heart of Darkness” only serves to stir detrimental stereotypes of black race. In the “image of Africa by Chinua Achebe,” the author begins by giving out a couple of views mainly regarding the apparent western societal opinion on African societies, culture, and the continent in general. Based on these anecdotes, Achebe draws a finale and utilizes a piece of literature, termed as Heart of Darkness” written by Conrad, to substantiate his claims. He essentially presents several arguments that Africa as a continent is viewed by the Europeans as somewhat of an old continent in general. This view in any way doesn’t hold any water at all. Africa as a continent has proven beyond the benefit of doubt to have the capacity to progress. While reading the story, it’s clear that the focal point of the story is how Europeans view Africans and how different they are. Having Conrad viewing Africans as if they were not human or of the same species with those from the west, therefore remains to be an aspect of concern to be explored.

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Several arguments are put forward by Achebe to invalidate the validity of the stereotype that Europeans have held for a long period. According to him, he argues that the perception that Westerners and Europeans have on Africa’s society and culture at large is that of superiority in which Africa’s society and culture are being viewed as lesser than that of their own. This, therefore, leaves us with one fundamental point in mind which literature work ought to perform in modern society as being; cautioning, criticizing, exposing the ills in the society and correcting the stereotypes that have been held by humankind for a long time in history.

The author goes further in his literacy work to provide another argument on the racism ideology being portrayed by the Europeans through a literary piece of work “Heart of Darkness by Conrad.” All these, are in an attempt to invalidate the key points raised by Conrad about an African race at large. It’s critical to note that,” Heart of Darkness “by Joseph Conrad has been depicted by many as among the almost a half dozen supreme Novels ever written in the English language. However According to Chinua Achebe, his stand on the same is different, in his work “An image of Africa; Racism is Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” he elaborated and affirmed that Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist. The author argues that the racist observed mainly in the” Heart of Darkness is expressed as a result of what can be termed as the desire or the western psychology which is meant to portray Africa to the rest of the world as an antithesis to Europe.

Achebe at the beginning showered so many praises to Conrad as an individual who has a command of literary and a great stylist of our modern fiction. Additionally, he gives many praises to Joseph’s outstanding talents in literary work but still affirms that Joseph’s obvious racism to a greater extent has not been fully addressed. With this in mind, Chinua Achebe gives more description of on how Joseph’s approaches result to no more than a steady, unwieldy, and untrue-ritualistic repetition of two negating statements.

Another argument raised by Chinua Achebe in his literary work “An Image of Africa” is that Heart of Darkness to some extent ought not to be considered at any case as a great piece of work due to its dehumanizing of an entire African race as ugly and savagery in nature. This according to him ought not to be accepted in the modern society where civilization is taking its position. This makes his challenging of Joseph’s novel to some extent more acceptable by many who have more liberal minds. However, despite the fact that Chinua’s rooted claim isn’t based off particularly an idea that in one way or another the whites think savagery of the African society is disgusting, but rather the direct fallacy of the whites simply dismissing the potential that the African continent possess which as just another perceived setting for their progress instead of the sacred home that it is for its mankind.

In a further analysis of his literary work” An image of Africa” Chinua argues that the relationship between Africans and European stands to be very detrimental in nature, According to him, most Europeans hold and outdated belief that Africa to a great extent is an uncivilized wilderness of its own of which they strongly believe to possess what it takes to modernize Africa and offer an appropriate cure to Africa mainly with that superior culture which they tend to possess. The fundamental question has been, how best can the European cultural superiority be aligned to the current increasing rate of civilization and is it worth to judge an individual based on his general outlook or by the content of mind.

In a further exploration of Chinua’s ” an image of Africa,” Achebe further argues that Conrad to some extent intentionally became reluctant to bestow mainly human expression on Africans and even goes ahead to deprive them of their language at large.

Much can be understood from the arguments presented by Achebe in his work “an African image.” It ought to be understood that this isn’t in any way a direct attack on Conrad’s work “, Heart of Darkness “but the actually stereotypes that have been stirred up by the whites for an extended period .with increased civilization its, therefore, becoming evident that the perception held by the Europeans on African race doesn’t contain any water in a modern society. “An image of Africa” in summary is a piece of work that is meant to challenge various opinions being held by the Europeans against the African race. First, the African race is being viewed as inferior and has a primitive culture that can only be civilized by the already perceived modern culture that Europeans believe to possess. The novel explores more aspects of racism with extreme use of words like black and niggers, and the attitude held by a character like Kurtz mainly towards Africa as a continent and its inhabitants. Being European according to the author of the Heart of Darkness is synonymous mainly with success, possessing wealth and a very comfortable well –being. In this regard, many therefore believe that there is nothing good that can come out of an African continent as the blacks are associated with poverty, lower intellectual capacity and an inferior culture that’s much uncivilized. Achebe’s piece of literary work aims therefore to correct this stereotype that has been in existence for long as Achebe’s analysis of the racism that is present in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness consists of a series of anecdotes, use of quotes, and then subsequent analysis to further his argument. The anecdotes given present the author’s previous experience with various attitudes towards Heart of Darkness as well as issues of the “otherness” of Africa and African culture in general. He presents the idea that Joseph Conrad held many racist ideas, and vividly portrayed these ideas in his book. It is noted that Conrad asserted this through the contrast between Europe and Africa. He presents Europe as being orderly, and the home of civilization and Africa as being base, disorderly, and even the grounds for losing one’s mind.

I think that this whole critical piece of literary work “An image of Africa” has a defined structure to it that cannot be mistaken. After giving the anecdote or the portion of Conrad’s work that he will attempt to analyze, the analysis is given and then followed up by a clear opinion about the previously cited writing. There is a strong analysis being given because it is a topic that as stated in the first paragraph was of clear importance to him. Although it was not explicitly stated, it is clear throughout the critical essay that he doesn’t think it is ignorance anymore and that he thinks it’s more of a choice to be that uninformed on a subject and later goes on to develop deeper and more concise perceptions of the work Heart of Darkness. I believe that his central point is about the racism that can be found in the working heart of Darkness. This can be very informative considering the novel Heart of Darkness was published in 1899 which is clearly before racism was politically disbanded. The point was made in a very descriptive way and analytical way rather than just spewed emotions. This allows the argument to be taken seriously and with more attention given by the reader. Although in some occasions there is a disconnect between his main point and the point of view that is written, there are a lot of good points made on Europeans and Africans and their countries and how they both had a similar point of origin.

Identity markers are all present in the essay but, their importance is more of a side note or a parallel meaning. What I mean is that since the essay is trying to point out that there was a level of racism and differentiation between races and racial identities, there is a common ground between them that roots back to what was mentioned in the Heart of Darkness. The essay seems to be very straightforward and the implications being made are very clear. Although this was well written and in a very polite and scholarly fashion, there is a degree of extremism that could be felt which could make others lean away from the facts being given. During the colonization era, it’s very clear that, most of the European nations greatly benefited from an African continent through slaves, raw materials and even market, terming Africans as poor and having an uncivilized culture to great extent can’t be justified as the gains that the west had made from Afric ais actually so much.

The very important and worthwhile aspect that can, therefore, be understood in the critical analysis of “An African image.” As stated by Achebe from his privileged position in which he firmly believes that, there is much that the West can derive from the African cultures, if only the west is more willing to get rid of their minds mainly of outdated prejudices, and opt to view Africa not through the famous haze of misrepresentation of the truth and cheap mystifications, but as contiguous landmass that has individuals with worth; not angels per say but not what can be termed as rudimentary souls either but they should view them as people who in one way or another are more gifted and are striking success in their business endeavor mainly with life and the society at large.

In summary, the arguments raised by Achebe are valid and ought to be taken into consideration. An African image has been severely tainted through different literary works. To a greater extent, the dehumanization aspect of Africans through their culture has been at stake for so many years. The worth of Africans seems to be neglected. However, the association of the black with poverty and inferiority doesn’t hold water. Africans for a long time have proven to deliver the best in almost all fields. Africa as a continent has offered much to the rest of the world is it through the provision of raw materials, vibrant and diverse culture or even labor supply. The west can, therefore, continue benefiting from these precious items that their origin is in Africa through abandoning their stereotypes about Africa as a continent. There still other literary pieces of art that have deeply examined the worth of Africa as continent at large and they can as well be utilized to get a clear view and the worth that an African continent holds at large.

03 December 2019

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