In literature, Colonialism is defined as a practice of dominance, involving the subjugation one person or a group of people to another person or group of persons. Since literature addresses the various issues that are prevalent in the society and colonialism has been one of the historic occurrences in the existence of the world, various authors of literal books have addressed colonialism. Various writers have addressed the issue using different approaches and styles but they all address it as something that is detrimental and brutal issue that have ever existed in history. Colonialism in its existence is not a modern phenomenon. The wider groups of states are typical examples of a society gradual expansion with an aim of incorporating into its political or leadership adjacent territories and arranging to get its people to the newly surmounted territories. Depending on the terms of engagement between the colonizer and the colony, various colonies advanced the practice differently. The approaches that were used by the various colonies affected differently on people and thus various communities responded differently to the tyranny of their colonies. Some communities responded by engaging into war and others used democracy to fight for their freedom.
Africa was the rampant center of colonies and Europeans were the most common colonizers. In the play The Tempest, Shakespeare addresses colonialism, which was at its climax during his periods as European seafarers continued to advanced their discoveries and conquer of new territories. The aimless conquer of territories by Europeans can be confirmed by the plays lack of specific source for the plot. The colonizers were never specific in their acts of colonization; they colonized the adjacent territories in respect to their weaknesses. “There would this monster make a man. Any strange beast there makes a man. When they will not give a do it to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian”. (Shakespeare, II.ii.28–31).
Settler colonialism involves religious, political or economically motivated large-scale immigration. This is what is demonstrated in the Sudanese novel Seasons of Migration to the North. The second type of colonialism involves the exploitation colonialism, which is more the same or less the same means the explorers colonizing the groups they encounter in their movements. It involves the small number of colonists who had focus on access of resources and exports to the metropolis. It is through the engagement that the explorers colonize their subject by dictating in every aspect of their engagement. This type of colonialism consists of trading posts, larger colonies, and the colonists contributing to the larger part of administration for both political and economic arena. The colonies in this category are more reliant on the colonized economic materials and labor. Prior to the widespread abolition and the end slave trade, and indigenous labor was not available, slaves were transferred by the Portuguese Empire to America then later the Spanish, Dutch, French and finally the British. The example of exploitation colonialism is the plantation colonies. Internal colonialism is another type of colonialism that is unique in its cause and source of exploitation as it originates from the periphery of the State and is expressed through a notion of citizen thinking that their nation structurally uneven in respect to power sharing. The final type of colonialism is the surrogate colonialism in this type of colonialism, most of the mainstream of the ruling crew and it usually represent a settlement-supported project the colonial powers “The cruelties visited upon the Indians in the 19th and early 20th century by the colonial rubber industry were extreme. This terror was blood thirstier by far than could be explained by rational, economic motives: in fact, the terror went against business interests as it destroyed scarce labor power” (Taussig 69).
Impacts of colonialism
Colonialism is the main contributor of social and Cultural Revolution in the world. Colonialism is the key player in development of hybrid ethnic populations. In every state today that colonialism too deep roots, there is significant number of ethnically and culturally hybrid groups (Taussig 120).
Tyranny and torture are the most significant and detrimental effects of colonialism. The play Tempest is a typical description of the tyranny that the colonizers who seem to be luring their colonist. The play bases its plot in an African country Algeria that the author Shakespeare presents as an uninhibited island presenting the sense of infinite possibility to every foreigner to the land. The European similarly occupied the colonies land as if no one occupied them before. For instance in the play, Prospero finds the colonies land to be an ideal place to school her daughter and thus causes the ejection of Caliban’s mother, Sycorax from her home land Algeria. The pain that the colonizers affected the colonist is detrimental since some of them were misused as slaves and were given very tough duties whereas the king and his compatriots enjoyed simple duties. ” a divided country, has also been the object of imperialist aggression of every kind. The conventions concluded at Geneva have been violated, its peoples have been massacred from the air, and part of its territory is in constant danger from cowardly attacks by imperialist forces” (Guevara 80). In the Tempest for instance, Caliban who is a slave at the peripheries of Prospero’s say regrets that he is not a king in his own land. The various characters in the play refer the island as unrealized potential are for freedom (Shakespeare, (III.ii.101–103)). In every scene of the play there is a representation of implicitly or explicitly relationship between a figure in possession of power and the subject to the power.
The relationship between a master and servant are never successful in that either of the two will always work against the relationship, which is usually detrimental on the side of the servant. The up rises that led nations to independence were mainly caused by the weakening relationship between colonies and colonists, which is represented in various literal works as the relationship between the master and slave “At present the type of peaceful coexistence to which we aspire does not exist in many cases” (Guevara 78). Mainly the possible reasons lie on ineptitude of the master towards the slave or the rebellion of the slave due to the tyranny of the master. In Shakespeare’s work the exhibited servant-master relationships are like that of the main character Prospero and Caliban, Gonzalo and the nobles, and finally that of Ariel and Prospero in addition to many other since the whole play is an exploration of the social and psychological dynamics of power relationships between the servants and their masters. In cases where harmony of the relationship is disrupted masters who are represented by the colonies, usually show high harsh dynamics as for the servant’s reasonable rebellion or the master’s ineptitude. An example of this is in the first scene of the play where by the Boatswain is angry and dismissive towards the nobles his masters “Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs, which give delight and hurt not”. (Shakespeare, III.ii.130–138).
The rift between the colonies and colonizers contributed to the current ethnic or racial rivalry that is experienced in the ethnically hybrid societies or countries. The rivalry that existed between the master and the servants has been extended to the current world. The general engagement between the colonies and the colonist encouraged ethnic rivalry. Every society that has ever gone through a period of colonialism in history has it’s the boundaries of ethnicity being created by the colonies. An example is the darkest history of South Africa, which is renown because of the ever long lasted detrimental ethnic separation. The Europeans were fond of upgrading one group in the society. They usually based their favor on either religious issues or ethnicity. There are current civil conflicts that can be traced to the colonial periods (Taussig 204).
Unequal distribution of resources is another effect that came with colonialism. Those in power were the ultimate and final deciders of who will actually get what in terms of national resources. The practice of distributing natural resources never had any better criterion other than favors based on race, religion, ethnicity and other prevalent culturally based qualification. Resources are commonly considered very much important in the society and every individual will always aspire to have more than enough. “These girls were killed not by Mustafa Sa’eed but by the germ of a deadly disease that assailed them a thousand years ago.”(Salih 29). Those in power usually grab the national resource as per their needs and distribute the rest based on social cultural lines. Resources are the common cause of conflicts in the world today. The colonies unfair distribution of resources is detrimental to the relationship of between communities mostly the group in power and the subjects. The tyrants are usually privileged on basis of race and other social cultural characteristics and therefore allowed to get access to significant resources at expense of the other groups outside the ruling race or cultural community.
The tyranny that was extended by the colonies to their colonist is a significant source of racial and ethnic rivalry that characterized the colonialism period. The narrator in the story Season of Migration to the North represents his truth concerning his feelings towards his colony at the foreign land that he went for study. The narrator makes it clear that his experience there was never good and thus he considered returning home “Now I'm making a decision. I choose life. I shall live because there are few people I want to stay with for the longest possible time and because I have duties to discharge. It is not my concern whether or not life has meaning. If I am unable to forgive, then I shall try to forget. I shall live by force and cunning." (Salih 168). The key contributor of his bad experience was the fact that he married a British and more importantly his racial identity. The story is a true exhibit of what exactly took place in the colonialism and after colonialism. The British are never at ease with a Sudanese marrying or associating with whites. The Sudanese at the village are never in good terms with foreign language of the British and when the narrator communicates in English, the villagers feel betrayed. The rivalry is an exhibit of the ethnic rivalry that is in existence between the colonizers and the colonized even after colonization.
Colonialism mainly caused displacement of people in terms of their cultural, social and economic aspects of life. The socio-cultural and economic activities changed gradually due to the influence from their colonies. The colonies mostly forced their colonist to take up their philosophical doctrines, their foods and totally discouraged from continuing practicing their way of life. In the Salih story, the narrator explains the village as if to have changed and he is changed. Colonialism served to change people’s life. However, the colonist at last recognized them as being not different.
The European exploration and expansion has played a major and essential role in the establishment of modernity of nations, cultures and civilizations. Its impact can be seen even to the present day since diverse and multiethnic communities are because of colonialism. The European started the whole process of colonialism as conquers but ended up creating new cultures and people. The European entered the territories of their colonies for the sake of power and wealth but left them with a different identity. Colonialism forged new cultures and brought several people together. However, the massive number of people who suffered on the process is unimaginable.
Guevara, Che. Colonialism is doomed. Ministry of External Relations, Information Department, 2005.
Salih, Tayeb. Season of Migration to the North. Click here to buy this book, 2009.
Shakespeare, Willliam, Barbara A. Mowat, and Paul Werstine. "The Tempest: Folger Shakespeare Library." Washington Square (1994).
Taussig, Michael T. Shamanism, colonialism, and the wild man: A study in terror and healing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.