Colonialism is the acquisition of the colonialist, by brute force, of extra markets, extra resources of raw material and manpower from the colonies. The colonialist, while committing these atrocities against the natives and territories of the colonies, convinces himself that he stands on high moral grounds. His basic assumptions in defense of his actions are:
The colonized are savages in need of education and rehabilitation The culture of the colonized is not up to the standard of the colonizer, and it’s the moral duty of the colonizer to do something about polishing it. The colonized nation is unable to manage and run itself properly, and thus it needs the wisdom and expertise of the colonizer. The colonized nation embraces a set of religious beliefs incongruent and incompatible with those of the colonizer, and consequently, it is God’s given duty of the colonizer to bring those stray people to the right path. The colonized people pose dangerous threat to themselves and to the civilized world if left alone; and thus it is in the interest of the civilized world to bring those people under control. As a result of this the white Europeans ventured adventurously into the so called underdeveloped countries in Africa and Asia and dominated a lot of geographical spaces there. They subjugated the natives, imposed their will at large on them. They eroded the natives’ cultures and languages, plundered the natives’ wealth and established their orders based on settlers’ supremacy.
The Effect of Colonialism
Oppression is a basic ingredient of colonialism. There is no denying it that oppression dehumanizes both the oppressor and the oppressed. Thus in the thickness of colonialism, national movements, and most of them were radical and violent in their approaches, emerged to encounter the aggression of colonialism.The natives after some period of submission, and due to the changes in world ideologies and political climate realized that the settlers are mere drones living off the blood and labor of the native without awarding him his dues. The native realized that his hopes and aspirations would remain stifled under the rule of the colonizer. Thus the native resorted to violence to shake the colonizer off his shoulder; and eventually he did.
There are so many views on the effects of colonialism. These views depend on the political and ideological position of those who disseminate them. Some claim that in spite of the ugly face of colonialism, it did a lot of good to the colonized. It brought to the colonized a new vision of life, mainly western and advanced. It fostered a strong sense of national unity. It brought industrialization and modern economy to the colonies; and above all it advanced cultural life where it occurred. Implicit in these claims is the colonizers’ high moral grounds mentioned above. On the other hand, there is the view that colonialism is pure oppression, immoral, evil, and nothing more than a form of a Neo-slavery. As a result, no possible good can come out of such evil, and it should be combated with sheer force. This radical view not only denies any positive effect of colonialism, but also incriminates those so-called apologists for colonialism.
In essence, what post-colonialism, as a movement, does is to expose to both the colonizer and ex-colonized the falsity or validity of their assumptions. The pioneers of Post-colonialism like Edward Said, Franz Fanon, Homi Bhabha among others, concerned themselves with the social and cultural effect of colonization. They regarded the way in which the west paved its passage to the orient and the rest of the world as based on unconfounded truths. They asserted in their discourses that no culture is better or worse than other culture and consequently they nullified the logic of the colonialists. In their readings of colonial and post-colonial literature and other forms of art, post-colonial critics relied heavily on other available literary theories. They manipulated Marxism, new historicism, Psychoanalysis, and deconstruction to serve their purposes.
There is much to post-colonial literature than reading colonialist narratives only. Generations of writers and intellectuals who are born under and after colonialism write inspiringly about the struggle for independence. They write about the conflicting interests of the natives under and after colonialism. Other writers direct their attention to the conflict between the natives and the newly appointed regimes that supplanted the colonialists. Many others write about fossilized social habits and customs in need of rehabilitation or replacement. Some writers exhibit a high level of animosity to the colonialist and their agents; others are less aggressive in their representation of the colonial past, and the postcolonial present.