Education as a Tool of Colonialism

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Since the time the world was created domination of one person over another, the same as one race or country, has become a problem. The strongest always sought more freedom and power, while the weakest had nothing left than to struggle with their conquerors or obey them. Especially vivid this problem became with the appearance of first empires, whose goal was to bring under their control as many lands as possible. Little European countries having excellent army and navy forces managed to expand their control over thousands of miles in Asia, Africa and America. Seeking to have more territories, more natural resources and labor force Europeans ruined lives of the locals, their traditions and identities, making them just the colonized without any distinctions. For long centuries the world had been divided into two parts the colonizers and the colonized, but throughout 20th century the situation has changed and the nations that had been suppressed became free and started the long process of decolonization not of their lands only, but of their souls and minds. People of art are usually the first to succeed in this struggle, therefore writers became the first voices of the newly discovered nations. Tsitsi Dangarembga and Shani Mootoo are the representatives of these voices as their novels represent the problems of the colonized in the periods of colonization and post-colonization.

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To understand the problem of colonization and its influence upon both colonizers and colonized it is essential to provide the definition. According to Oxford Dictionaries, colonialism is the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers and exploiting it economically (Oxford Dictionaries). If to put it in terms of culture, colonialism means the domination of one culture over another with complete or partial destruction of the suppressed one. The colonized did their best to protect and save their cultures, each of which is unique. Anyway, after long time of colonization both colonized and colonizing cultures have mixed up. Therefore, Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga and Trinidadian Shani Mootoo, who was born in Ireland, represent wonderful mixtures of their own cultured blended with the English one.

A notion, which is very important in the colonial and post-colonial studies, is stereotype. According to Oxford Dictionaries, stereotype is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of person or thing (Oxford Dictionaries). Stereotypes concerning colonizers and the colonized have been formed throughout the history and in the post-colonization period much strengths in devoted to destroy them.

The novel Cereus Bloom at Night by Shani Mootoo presents the story of an old woman, called Mala Ramchandin, though it is told from the point of view of the nurse named Tyler. The setting of the story is rather interesting too, as it takes place in the town Paradise on the imaginary island Lantanacamara. As the novel tells the story of Malas life, it shows her childhood and adult years, creating different images typical for postcolonial literature. The key concepts of the novel are race, gender and sexuality, though the idea of society and its influence upon family and personality are of higher importance either. Growing in the society of gender bipolarity, being educated in a system of colonial oppression, children were supposed to grow up into sexually and racially prejudiced adults, which happened very commonly. This is what happens to the characters of the novel. The accepted models of behavior, becoming even more complicated under the load of stereotypes and prejudices, play a bad trick on the main characters.

Moreover, education is shown as a very powerful tool of the colonizers. By establishing schools in the colonized territories, they have influenced not only those people, who were taught at these schools, but their children as well. Establishing a mission school in the town of Paradise colonizers sought to educate and civilize the citizens, especially laborers, which results in their childrens reversed views on themselves, their identities and place in the world. On the contrary, the narrator, Tylor the nurse, who had been educated abroad and feels freer from the stereotypes of the colonized. All the colonial institutions, called to humanize and civilize the citizens of the colonized territories, which are heteronormative and racist, are showed in their interconnection to the violence, which lived within each colonized family. Therefore, the author shows the role colonial education played in changing the society of the colonized into highly stereotypical and prejudiced.

The novel Nervous conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga presents similar topic of colonial suppression and the role of educational institutions in this process. Unlike Cereus Bloom at Night, education here is seen from the point of view of Tambu, who changes her mind about this concept throughout the novel. At the beginning she sees it as a way to succeed in life, therefore she is keen on the idea to receive education. For Tambu education seems to be the only way out of poverty and ignorance, but when she starts to understand what a powerful tool it is. On one hand, it is given to Africans as a great privilege, which is constantly emphasized by the teachers at school. Therefore, unlike white children, who have the right to be educated since their birth, blacks had to struggle for it in their colonized society. Being a tool of reminding the Africans who they actually are, at the same time education gives Tambu a ticket to better life, which she uses completely, getting out of poverty. It proves bipolar attitude of Tsitsi Dangarembga herself to educational institution in general as it makes colonial structures stronger, enforcing stereotypes that Africans did not deserve education, but at the same time gives slight, but real chance for everyone to make their lives better.

Therefore, despite the fact that both novels Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga and Cereus Bloom at Night by Shani Mootoo present education as a powerful colonial tool, the attitude of both writers to this issue is different. Shani Mootoo sees education as a tool of further colonization and poisoning the minds of the colonized with stereotypes and prejudices, while Tsitsi Dangarembga depicts education as opportunity to gain better life, though through inner and outer difficulties.

Works Cited

May, Vivian M. "Trauma in Paradise: Willful and Strategic Ignorance in Cereus Blooms at Night." Hypatia 21.3 (2006): 107-35. Web.

"Oxford Dictionaries - Dictionary, Thesaurus, & Grammar." Oxford Dictionaries - Dictionary, Thesaurus, & Grammar. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.

Gairola, Rahul Krishna. "Education and "Third World Women"" Education and "Third World Women" Web. 03 Apr. 2016.

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