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Contribute to Impressions Ravinder Kumar Gill

Post-colonial Preoccupations in Ngugis Narrative: A Study o Petals o !lood and "atigari

#Colonialism is not satis ied merely $it% %olding a people in its grip and emptying t%e natives brain o all orm and content & !y a 'ind o perverted logic( it turns to t%e past o t%e oppressed people( and distorts( dis igures and destroys it &&&)*+anon( ,-./

0lla S%o%at in %er crisp interrogation o t%e concept describes Post 1 colonialism as 2a designation or critical discourses $%ic% t%emati3e issues emerging rom colonial relations and t%eir a termat%( covering a long %istorical span4)*567/8%is also covers( pointedly t%e post-independence( neo-colonial period& 8%us 9Post-colonial implies a movement as $ell as movement beyond a speci ic point in %istory t%at o colonialism and t%ird $orld nationalist struggles& 8%e colonial and neo-colonial e:periences and t%e manner in $%ic% t%e a termat% interacts $it% globali3ation illuminate t%e di erent postcolonial ormation in various parts o t%e $orld system at t%e present times& "odern A rican iction $%ic% is post colonial in nature emerged out o t%e contact $%ic% $as bot% #%istorical) and #e:periential) in dimension& 8%e purpose o t%is literature is t%e decoloni3ation o A rican mind $%ic% resists t%e role o ;estern Cultural %egemony in determining A rican states o consciousness& <ecoloni3ation is t%e searc% or researc% or positive A rican ideas( perspectives( tec%ni=ues and values& 8%at enterprise tautologically is centered on A rica& It t%ere ore involves a parallel process o t%e Re-A ricani3ation( or a discursive ormulation $%erein t%e artist( a conscious act( is building or reconstructing an identity %e $as %it%erto denied or deprived o &

Post-colonialism $as structured by t%e neo-colonial e:perience& 8%e

term neo-colonialism is generally used to describe t%e %ig% degree o economic and tec%nological in luence over a ormer colonys economic a airs and economic policy by oreign business interests& In t%e conte:t o t%e cultural dynamics o t%e neo- colonial situation( it also suggests t%e predominance o t%e culture and values o t%e ormer colonial po$ers over t%e base culture& Ngugi de ines ne$ imperialism as #t%e rule o consolidated inance capital4 $it% economic( political( cultural and psyc%ological conse=uences or t%e people) *<ecoloni3ing t%e "ind( >-/and unctions as an agent o continued de-A ricani3ation or t%e subversion o t%e A rican culture&

Ngugis novels %ave been perceived largely as discourses on cultural decoloni3ation( t%ey involve t%e =uest or a ne$ socio 1 political order& ?is narratives are steeped in Kenyas %istorical landscape and at times border close to direct allusion on actual %istorical personages and events & 8o Ngugi ( t%e narrative is a tool or s%aping ( ordering ( reinterpreting and regaining t%e lost signi iers o %istorical identities & 8%ere are our basic t%ematic strands $%ic% tend to c%aracteri3e Ngugis recreation o Kenyan %istory& ?is $or's are mar'ed by t%e portrayal o a peace ul A rican past o Pre- colonial period( t%e in@ustices o colonialism( a portrayal o t%e glorious struggle or A%uru B reedomC( t%e betrayal and breac%es o t%e common people in t%e Post-colonial period and t%e resilience o t%e people against t%e neo- colonial consumerisms &

Matigari: A Journey from Unfreedom to Freedom

In "atigari ( Ngugis most ideologically committed novel ( $e meet a %ero $%o %as emerged rom t%e bus% ( $%ere %e oug%t or %is unnamed countrys independence ( to ind a nation t%at is not yet A%uru & 8%e %ouse $%ic% %e built and $%ic% allegedly belongs to %im is legally occupied by Do%n !oy Dunior( t%e son o settler ;illiams servant& 8%e struggle or t%e second liberation is concreti3ed in "atigaris e orts to repossess #%is) %ouse& It also ta'es t%e p%ilosop%ical orm o t%e searc% or trut% and @ustice in t%is land in $%ic% #t%e tailor $ears rags ( t%e tiller eats $ild berries ( t%e builder begs or s%elter&) *../

Ngugi $a 8%iongEoEs boo' "atigari can be considered a de initive postcolonial novel( as it sets a traditional Gi'uyu ol'tale in t%e conte:t o an unnamed contemporary A rican country& Ngugi liberally blends %is re-telling o t%at tale $it% ;estern cultural and religious ideas& "ost notably( %e integrates many stories rom t%e !ible( particularly t%ose dealing $it% t%e li e o C%rist( into %is version o t%is traditional A rican narrative& 8%roug%out "atigari( Ngugi employs a "ar:ist( yet distinctly A rican( perspective( to criti=ue and e:pose bot% t%e overt and sub te:tual sociopolitical structures t%at e:ist in many postcolonial A rican states& As %e meticulously and ironically e:poses t%e true nature o t%ese structures( as $ell as t%e intuitions and realms o discourse t%at perpetuate t%em( %e c%ips a$ay at t%eir psyc%osocial po$er over A rican society& 8%e ;estern reader stands accused in %is or %er o$n silent complicity $it% ;estern *post/imperial activities and attitudes&

In analy3ing "atigari( it is tempting to try to locate t%e novelEs autobiograp%ical( non ictional strains and to conclude t%at NgugiEs myt%ical country is a t%inly disguised rendition o t%e aut%orEs %omeland( Kenya& 8%is assumption is only natural( considering t%e aut%or-activistEs o$n e:periences( $%ic% %ave included imprisonment at t%e %ands o a repressive Kenyan regime& ?o$ever( suc% reductive %istorici3ing encourages t%e reader to underestimate NgugiEs pro@ect in $riting "atigari& ?e is purposely vague in establis%ing bot% t%e temporal and spatial settings o %is novelF %e re uses to de ine $%ere and $%en %is story ta'es place( insisting in a pre atory song:

8%is story is imaginary& 8%e actions are imaginary& 8%e c%aracters are imaginary& 8%e country is imaginary--it %as no name even& ReaderGlistener: may t%e story ta'e place in t%e country o your c%oiceH *i:/

I readers disregard t%at advice( t%en t%ey may underestimate and( conse=uently( miss t%e boo'Es broader political implications& "atigari is not t%e story o one isolated country but a sc%emati3ed documentation o t%e entire postcolonial e:perience& In %is novel( Ngugi recounts t%e $ay in $%ic% ;estern institutions and codes supplant t%ose t%at are native to A rica in t%e service o bot% t%e continentEs ormer coloni3ers and t%eir ne$ly arisen A rican imitators& In t%at regard( "atigari can be vie$ed as an abstract

p%ilosop%ical $or' $it% bot% descriptive and prescriptive elements&

8%e inal line o NgugiEs pre ace #may t%e story ta'e place in t%e country o your c%oice() *i:C establis%es t%e novelistEs narrative double-consciousness& In its sur ace( t%e statement appears merely to serve as a raming device to identi y and establis% t%e novelEs romantic( =uasi-allegorical nature& Alt%oug% t%e son ul ills t%at unction( it( also demonstrates NgugiEs sel -consciousness about t%e divided nature o %is audience& 8%at a$areness results in t%e bivocal narrative stance t%at Ngugi adopts t%roug%out "atigari& +rom t%e perspective o %is ;estern readers%ip( NgugiEs apparent blessing unctions as an obli=ue accusation& It un%appily recogni3es t%at a sociopolitical apparatus li'e t%e one portrayed in "atigari may be installed in any t%ird $orld nation t%at is targeted by t%e po$er bro'ers o t%e ;est& Conversely( rom an A rican perspective t%e line represents a genuine blessing& Not only does it anticipate t%e novelEs revolutionary conclusion( but it stands as a rallying cry or t%e 2$retc%ed o t%e eart%2 to ollo$ "atigariEs lead in rebelling--bot% politically and psyc%ologically--against post-colonial domination&

?ere ( Ngugi e:plores t%e various $ays in $%ic% a post-colonial oligarc%y may control and e:ploit a ormerly coloni3ed people& In act( t%e boo' reads li'e a veritable %o$-to manual or t%e installation and maintenance o a postcolonial military dictators%ip& 8%e boo' begins as NgugiEs %ero( "atigari ma N@iruungi( returns rom $%at %as apparently been an e:tended guerilla $ar& A ter many years o ig%ting( %e %as van=uis%ed %is longtime oes( Settler ?o$ard ;illiams and %is retainer( Do%n !oy Sr& It =uic'ly becomes obvious t%at "atigari is an allegorical igure $%o is meant to embody t%e spirit o all A rican reedom ig%ters& 8%at metonymy is rein orced by many o t%e c%aracterEs statements about %is personal %istory( $%ic% %as been de ined entirely by opposition to colonial rule& +or e:ample( 2I did not begin yesterday &&& Dust consider( I $as t%ere at t%e time o t%e Portuguese( and at t%e time o t%e Arabs( and at t%e time o t%e !ritis%--2*>J/& In act( t%e name 2"atigari2 in Gi'uyu literally means 2t%e patriots KpluralL $%o survived t%e bullets&2 Mi'e$ise( all o t%e central c%aracters o "atigari are allegorical igures representing t%e primary social and political orces in t%e postcolonial po$er ield& 8%e various Settlers ;illiams are intended to represent all o A ricaEs ormer and current oreign e:ploiters( $%ereas t%e Do%n !oys represent t%ose A ricans $%o %ave collaborated $it% and pro ited rom A ricaEs coloni3ation t%roug%out t%e continentEs %istory& "atigariEs apparent de eat o %is arc%enemies irmly grounds NgugiEs tale in t%e realm o t%e recently liberated postcolonial $orld& 8%at tentative( ideali3ed placement is as close as Ngugi comes to articulating a speci ic setting or %is novel& I %ave already noted t%at

t%e boo' is more about a sociopolitical condition t%an a speci ic time or place&

In a $ay( t%e novelist tries to return 9?ome t%roug% 9"atigari $%o %as resolved to bring %ome all %is peoples& *!y ?ome Ngugi symboli3es a return to traditional and original native roots and culture o Pre- Colonial Kenya/ ?e is a $onder ul inspiration or t%e people o Kenya to ig%t bac' against t%e neo-colonial agents li'e !oy and ;illiams& ?is presence ills t%e Kenyans $it% an air o liberty and t%ey are ready to brea' t%e s%ac'les o slavery and e:ploitation& "atigari $ants to bring all %is peoples to t%e real %ome $%ere t%ey $ill live to t%e ull $it% all reedom and a luence& "atigari researc%ing or %is amily is s%oc'ed to discover t%at t%e %ouse $%ic% %e %ad built and $%ic% %ad been usurped by Settler ;illiams is no$ in t%e illegal possession o %is son Do%n !oy Dunior $%o runs a louris%ing business in collaboration $it% Robert ;illiams& Robert ;illiams( t%e son o Settler represents t%e neocolonial orce( $%ic% %ad come bac' t%roug% t%e bac' door in independent Kenya in t%e name o economic cooperation& ;%ile Do%n !oy Dunior( represents t%e Comprador bourgeois orces rom $it%in Kenya( $%ic% %ad usurped political po$er and $ere openly collaborating $it% imperialist and neo-colonial orces& 8%ere is a $a'ing call to all t%e su erers to unite and to root out all $%at is not ?ome and to destroy $%atever %inders t%e building o t%e true %ome&

Ngugis portrayal o Gut%eras %atred o policeman in "atigari traces t%e genesis o $omens sub@ugation and e:ploitation in t%e independent Kenya& ;omen are perceived merely as ob@ects and se:ual beings& #Nou see( my entire li e %as been dominated by men( be t%ey our +at%er in %eaven( my +at%er on eart%( t%e Priest or all t%e men $%o %ave broug%t my body and turned me into t%eir mattress)& *,>O/ !y re using to collaborate( Gut%era resists t%e %egemonic domination o an e:ploitative society and o ers an e:ample to ot%ers $%o must do t%e same& Gut%era is also instrumental in continuing t%e participation o $omen in colonial revolt&

Ngugi %as a vision o a system in t%e postcolonial $orld $%ere t%ere $ill be no class ( no corruption and no comprador cobras& ?e signi ies %is commitment to %is %ome and its %uman-beings& 8%e blac' mas's $it% $%ite souls are to be scrutini3ed and dealt t%em $it% accordingly& 8%us Ngugi dreams or an order sans disorder and discord ( corruption and e:ploitation ( disparity and disillusionment and sub@ugation and strati ication & 8%e coming toget%er o t%e peasants and t%e $or'ers in a

united and collective manner against t%eir e:ploitation and in@ustices $ill liberate t%em rom t%e present state o bondage and li e o misery and penury & 8ime %as come or t%e reaper and tiller ( and t%e $or'er and laborers to re use to be #li'e t%e coo'ing pot $%ose sole purpose is to coo' and never eat &)*,J5/