Colonialism of neocolonialism in Kenya through poetry. In the

Colonialism
started a long time ago with the superpower countries ruling their respective
colonies either directly or indirectly. Soon after the colonial masters
discovered Africa, they began to scramble for it to take up their territories
of interest. However, with the call of the Berlin conference by the then
Germany chancellor Otto Von Bismarck, they peacefully portioned Africa among
themselves. Kenya remained a British colony until 1963 when it gained her
independence through both armed struggle and diplomatic means. But, after the
independence of such colonies, the issue of neocolonialism took place in the
general leadership structures (Mhango 19). Activists
emerged to condemn the evil of neocolonialism and imperialism in the cry for
‘full’ independence since the colonial masters continued to benefit
irrationally from their former colonies through the elected colonies’ leaders.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o is one of the Kenyan icons who condemned the notion of
neocolonialism in Kenya through poetry. In the dramatization of Ngugi’s novel “Devil
on the Cross” the ideas of neocolonialism and imperialism in Kenya are
evident.

In
“Devil on the Cross,” Ngugi wa Thiong’o attacks what he calls
“the neocolonial stage of imperialism.” Initially, there is the need
to know the circumstances under which prompted Thiong’o to scheme his work.
Ngugi wrote this novel secretly on a tissue paper in one of the maximum prisons
in Kenya called Kimanthi in the early 1980s for allegations of writing and
staging plays that seemed to degrade the government. He wrote the term ‘devil’
on that tissue paper, and this became the main term of the novel’s title and
content. In 1980, “Devil on the Cross” was written in his local dialect,
Gikuyu, but later published in English in 1982 since its national demand was
high. Ngugi is after the condemnation of the neocolonialism that was being
witnessed in Kenya, whereby, the then black leaders were more dangerous than
the colonial masters (Mhango 24). Kenyans had thought
that they would greatly enjoy the freedom they had fought for, for several
years after the independence in 1963 by being led by their leaders; only to
find that they had still not attained the full independence they had so eagerly
desired.

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The
way the colonial masters remained in control of the independent state could
have triggered Ngugi’s sentiments. After the country was given independence, the
British and other European countries seemed to control most of the state’s
dockets; even the peak leadership structure. The country still relied on the
Western nations to go on with her process of building a new country — a
country that does not contain any white element of Europeans (Mhango 18). However, the prolonged stay and availability of whites
in the country resulted to further dictatorship from these European nations
through their leaders. Some Europeans had possession of lands in the country,
commonly known as the ‘white highlands’, but their influence in the country was
against the desire and wish of Kenyans. The conditions given by the European
countries to deliver specific services like health in the country were enough
to term the situation as neocolonialism.

The
combination of aggressive black leaders who prized and valued themselves of
snatching power from the colonial masters and the continued exploitation and
control of the country by the European nations through the leaders are enough
to explain the inner feelings of Ngugi regarding his sentiment “the
neocolonial stage of imperialism.” This feeling propelled him to write a
novel that addresses a certain “Devil” that needs to be driven out of
the country through mass action to sanctify the nation from the imminent evils
it has brought to the country. Celena Kusch in her book “Literary Analysis:
The Basics” explores several literary terminologies that can be used to
exhibit how the “Devil” uses formal elements to execute its imaginative
and critical project through variety of figurative language in the novel.

One
of the most profound elements is the metaphor. According to Kusch, “a
metaphor asks readers to suspend limited, logical definitions to create new,
intuitive definitions by comparison…compares unrelated objects to convey a
direct understanding of characteristics…” (Kusch 47). In the novel
“Devil on the Cross”, there are several metaphors used to convey
hidden messages on the notions. The metaphor is used to criticize the
government undertakings which are termed as ‘devils’ in the novel. According to
the novel, these devils in Kenya include colonialism, capitalism, imperialism,
and neocolonialism. These devils are present in the formal structures of the
government, and they are very perilous. The only ‘crosses’ that can be used to
hang them are independence, unity, and communism. At the beginning of the
novel, the author says, “the Devil who would lead us into the blindness of
heart and the deafness of the mind should be crucified…” (Ngugi 1).

First
person narration is very important in passing the intended meaning in a
literary work. In most cases, the first-person narrative gives the work an
added advantage for the genre’s situations are reported directly without
relying on a secondary informant. In “Literary Analysis: The Basics,”
Kusch says, “narrators whose voices speak in the first person as an ‘I’
reveal to readers their observations and conclusions about the actions in the
texts” (Kusch 40). In Ngugi’s novel, “Devil on the Cross”, there
is the use of the first-person narration which helps in passing the exact
intended message of condemning the “Devils” of imperialism and
neocolonialism. Ngugi attributes himself as a prophet who has is calling for
mass action in crucifying the “Devil”. He says, “come, my
friend, come with me so I can take you along the paths that Wariinga walked. come,
let us entrance her footsteps” (Ngugi 08).

Another
crucial element of literature analysis is rhythm. The rhythm is resulted by
repetition of words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs. The meters used to
create the rhythm help in stressing the intended message. According to Kusch,
“…the material experience of the sight and sound of words carries
additional content. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the use of
rhyme” (Kusch 46). In the novel, the use of repetition in its text creates
a deeper effect in the chase of the land’s “Devil”. Ngugi repeats this
statement in the form of a rhetorical question; “Who will wipe away
Kareendi’s tears now?” (Ngugi 17). There is huge cry over who will deliver
the society being oppressed by the powerful personnel.

Symbolism
is a literature feature that aids in the passing of a significant message by
using specific objects. Kusch said, “symbols both create a shorthand for
referring to the larger concept and translate the concept into a tangible
object that can relate metaphorically to other images and objects in the
text” (Kusch 48). Additionally, if the metaphors go to a further extent,
they create a zone of symbolism for the symbols used pass certain message. In “Devil
on the Cross” several symbols have been used to hail the condemnation of
corrupt social evils in this case. For instance, the “Devil” is
symbolically used to means the evil evils that demand to be chased off the
society such as neocolonialism, imperialism, corruption, and capitalism.

In
conclusion, Ngugi wa Thiong’o exhibits the problems that have
become “devils” in most of the third-world countries. Ngugi, having a
clear and vivid experience of the harsh taste of these “devils” in
his nation; he successfully attains his goal of creating awareness to the country
and to the entire world. Neocolonialism and imperialism will continue haunting
the countries affected if immediate rectifications are not made (Mhango 23). By using the terminologies explained by Kusch, the novel
is very rich in channeling its message efficiently. It is a humble cry to the
relevant western nations to stop getting involved in the third world countries
with ill motives of looting ‘legally’ through their leaders in pitiful ways
like corruption and neocolonialism.