Title: African Post-colonial Novel: Thematic Concerns by Mujtaba Arman
Author: مجتبى سعيد عرمان
Date: 06-30-2015, 06:14 PM
05:14 PM Jun, 30 2015
مجتبى سعيد عرمان -
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This paper aims at discussing the main notions regarding the African novel post- colonial period. It tries to make an analysis to the African post-colonial novel based on the novel Kill Me Quick by Meja Mwangi. African authors and novelists, like other authors across the world, have had concern of what has been going on in their society. They do write novels, short story and various types of writings (genres) on the destiny of people when the political power was transferred to the African rulers and crowned by the independence.
An in-depth analysis of the post – colonial novel, the reader could easily notice the following thematic concerns: the division of the society into have and have nots, the rule of the few and the fact that only very few people (elite) who have benefited from the independence fruits, the issue of the identity, corruption at all levels and the unrest in its socio- political forms, and indeed social issues as Emia Atta play shows - One Wife Until Further Notice where the author tries to shed light on the issue of polygamy in the African societies.. to mention just a few.
In his novel, Kill Me Quick that was published in (1973), the author (Meja Mwangi) depicts the bleak future of the protagonist (the main character in the novel) in a fascinating profound way that makes social misery being seen by the naked eye. Meja, the main character, was forced to leave his village to the capital where people are clearly divided on (class) basis or have and have nots. Let us quote this form the first chapter of his novel:
Meja sat by the ditch swinging his legs this way and that. A few people passed by engrossed in their daily problems and more of them gave the lanky youth a thought. But the searching eyes of Meja missed nothing. They scrutinized the ragged beggars who floated ghostly past him as closely as they watched the smart pot bellied executives wrinkling their noses at the foul stench of the backyards. And between these two types of beings, Meja made comparisons. (p. 1)
Like many post-colonial cities, Nairobi, is the city where youth, particularly, are forced to migrate to big cities after being snatched from the countryside because of the poor economic conditions, and in these cities, it is hard for them to find a job if not impossible. The protagonist ( Meja) could not find a place to stay at or food to eat in spite of the abundance, ironically is being hungry in the midst of abundance, the only thing were given is the remains or leftovers. Let us read their arduous journey in search of food in the big city:
Then Maina came out of the back gate of the supermarket and Meja's thoughts were diverted to his friend. He ran over and helped him carry the heavy parcels back to the trench. There in the empty parking lot by the ditch, they unwrapped the bundles and Meja gazed glassy-eyed at their prize. They were various kinds of fruits in various stages of decay. There also slices of stale smelly bread and of a few pieces of dusty chocolate. Some rock-hard cakes glared stonily back at them. Meja sat looking from type of food to the other. The oranges were no longer orange and beautiful but a deathly grey without mould. The cakes were no longer cakes but fragments of rock, and the chocolate looked like discarded shoe polish.
Furthermore, the thematic concern of post-colonial authors is the notion of alienation, people are forced to migrate to big cities where nobody cares and people felt alienated under severe economic conditions and social misery. Interestingly, post-colonial cities are pictured as callous as stone and merciless in particular for those who come the bottom of the society. The author of the Kill Me Quick pictures this situation skillfully when the protagonist narrates his destiny in pursuance of a job:
Meja stood and for a little while digested what the veteran of the backstreets had told him. Like everything else in the city it sounded unreal and cruel.
In short, post- colonial novelists were able in augmenting the fate of the African societies when colonizers left back to their original places and people found themselves in poverty when ruled by African themselves. Obviously, Kill Me Quick is all about independence delusions, the division of the society into have and have nots, destitution in the midst of abundance and social misery. Indeed, post-colonial novelists had attained success in depicting the misery and poverty of the Africans under of African themselves in an interesting style and beauties of the language.
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