Colonialism is equivalent to a disease because it has all the characteristics of a disease. Lalami in the introduction to ‘Season of Migration to the North’ by Tayeb Salih states that colonialism is a disease that spreads from one people to another or from one continent to another leaving a trail of violence and destructions. This is true because a disease spreads from one person to another and it can move from one continent to another. Secondly, a disease does not leave happiness on its trail; instead, it leaves a trail of violence and destruction. Therefore, the quote by Lalami explains how colonialism hurts people and if there is no immediate intervention, it will continue to leave scores of destruction. Therefore, in respect to Lalami’s quote, an analysis of the book by Salih in relation to metaphors, views of authors who share the same opinion, and whether there is a way out of the colonization process.
In the introduction to ‘Season of Migration to the North’, there exist several metaphors that exclusively explain why colonialism is a disease. When reading the book one may think that the author is concentrating on the sex behaviors in the society. It is true but the book has a deeper meaning where Salih uses an array of metaphor to show it. The first and faremost metaphor is Muastafa Saeed (Salih 134). Saeed is one of the main characters and plays a significant role in the book. He is a Sudanese professor who attained his education in the West. After gaining formal education, Saeed returns to Sudan to help his nation. However, he is not able to help because he feels extremely bitter for learning the western cultures. This is because of the way they are exploiting his people. Irrespective of this, Saeed continues to use these cultures of the West.
In this case, the metaphor behind Saeed is his evil characters. Despite being a professor, Saeed is a dangerous womanizer. In the book, the author shares the story of Saeed experiences of manipulating women for sex (Salih 148). Therefore, when one is reading, he or she has the notion that sex is the main idea in the book. On the other hand, the author was trying to show people how colonization was spreading across the globe and everywhere it was leaving a trail of destruction. In this case, Saeed was doing all he could in order to have sex with different women destroying their life emotionally. This behavior Saeed adapted from the colonialists, and shows how subversive the colonisation could be. For this reason, this metaphor shows that colonialism is like a disease that leads to destruction on its way.
The other metaphor is “The fact that they came to our land, I know not why, does that mean we should poison our future?” (Salih 49) This metaphor shows that people from the European countries came to the narrator’s nation through colonization. In the process, the Europeans left their cultural practices in the nations they were colonizing. However, after colonization, the colonized nation abandoned their cultures to follow the colonizers culture. The main problem was that some of these cultures of the Europeans were negative. For that reason, the narrator was asking why people were adapting their poisonous cultures.
In this case, the metaphor shows that colonization is like a disease. This is because in all places, the colonizers conquered, they were leaving something from their cultures both, positive and negative. As a result, the people would adopt the negative cultures leading to destruction. The most astonishing thing is that these colonized nations did not expect to be colonized. Howeve, after colonization these nations were shunning their cultures to follow the colonizers cultures. In this metaphor, the author is showing how colonization spreads like a disease. He is using the word poison to show that colonization is like an infection that leads to perdition. Moreover, he is showing that despite efforts to stop people from adapting the colonizers cultures, colonized nations still continue to use their cultures after colonization.
The other metaphor is the use of the Nile. In the beginning, Salih shows how the Nile was flowing before colonization. In this case, the Nile was taking the course of nature like an act of God. This is where everybody was enjoying the various advantages of the Nile (Salih 5). However, after the colonizers started appearing, they began to change the course or flow of the Nile. As a result, this led to flooding in certain regions while others became dry. The rich would change the flow of the river for their own benefit in peril of the poor. As a result of this change in the flow of the Nile, a trail of destruction was forming (Salih 164). This change signifies the coming colonization while flooding signifies the trail of destructions that colonization causes. The flow of water shows how colonization spreads. Therefore, this metaphor concurs with Lalami’s quote.
Lalami’s quote of colonialism is supported by other authors in their books by using their different experiences. One of the authors who support this quote is Albert Memmi in the book, ‘The Colonizer and the Colonized’. In the book, Memmi tries to show the relationship between the colonizers and the colonized. In addition, he tries to show the psychological effects colonization has on the two parties. This is where he uses certain experiences before colonization, during colonization and after it to explain the case of Zimbabwe. In this case, Memmi takes advantage of his experience in Tunisia, to show how colonialism in Rhodesia failed to lead to independent Zimbabwe.
Memmi supports Lalami’s quote because in the book he says that when the colonizers come to colonize, they strip of the identity of the colonized. This means that the colonizers were the first to eliminate the cultures of the colonized terming them as primitive. Secondly, they would impose their cultures on the colonized. This method of colonization is known as assimilation (Memmi 128). However, because of this belittlement, the colonized will start rebelling by showing the colonizers that they are equal. As a result, they adopt the colonizers culture eschewing their culture to prove their equality (Memmi 120). In the process, this leads to a lot of destruction during the rebellion. This clearly shows that Memmi supports the quote about colonialism being like a disease that leaves a trail of violence and destruction.
Memmi also uses psychology to support Lalami quote. In this case, Memmi shows how the colonizers use psychology for purposes of gaining and maintaining their rule in the colonies. This is where the colonizers turn the colonized into objects available at their disposal (Memmi 106). In this case, the colonized start to believe that they are inferior thus they cannot participate in politics. For this reason, Memmi states that due to this, the colonized cannot assume history (Memmi 96). As a result, the cultures of the colonized are not available in the books of history. Psychologically, the colonized feel inferior resulting to rebellion since they want to be equal and attain their freedom. The process is full of violence and destruction. Surprisingly, after gaining independence, the colonized retain these new cultures since they perceive them as superior in comparison to their cultures. This clearly shows thatt Lalami’s quote is true.
Frantz Fanon is another author who supports Lalami’s quote through his book ‘Black Skin, White Masks’. In this book, Fanon uses psychoanalysis to show the effect the colonizers have on the colonized. In this situation, Fanon shows how the colonized feel when they are in the world of their colonizers. In this case, he uses psychoanalysis to show how their feelings change and how they adapt to the new environment the colonizers have created (Fanon 78). Moreover, Fanon uses the destructive effects of colonialism to show the psychological effects it has on the colonized.
In this case, Fanon states that, before colonization, the colonized have their cultures and beliefs. Therefore, they do not think outside the box since they are not exposed to other cultures. However, during colonization, they experience new cultures that make them feel inferior (Fanon 33). In their minds, they start to shun their culture to earn a place in the social hierarchy of the new society. As a result, they abandon their cultures without living a trace as they try to gain the new cultures. As the book name suggests, the black skin (the colonized) starts to leave in a white skin (the colonized cultures). For this fact, Fanon shows that colonialism is like disease because it has been able to attack the mind of the colonized and change it entirely.
Therefore, after reading the above facts, it is clear that Lalami was speaking the truth because colonialism is like a disease that leaves behind a trail of violence and destruction. For this reason, it is necessary for a person to ask him- or herself whether it is possible to prevent this disease. If possible, what is the treatment, and if not possible then why? According to the book ‘Season of Migration to the North’, Salih believes that there is a way out of colonialism. This is because he constantly restates that the only cure for this disease is the colonized to stop abandoning their cultures and following the new cultures. In this situation, Salih asks himself whether the colonized should poison their future because the colonizers came and left their land (Salih 49).
Additionally, it is possible to have a way out of colonialism. In his book, Salih uses Saeed an educated man adversely affected by the west to show the effects of colonialism. The characters of the two, the narrator and Saeed, represent the colonizers and the colonized. Saeed is the colonizer because, at one point, he shows the joys of the colonizers’ behavior. As a result, he convinces the narrator to believe that the colonizers’ cultures are powerful. In this case, the narrator, like the colonized, forgets his own identity to a point where he becomes angry if Saeed does not show up. This shows how colonization finds it way like a disease. However, in the end, the narrator decides to get rid of Saeed and become an individual of his own right. Similarly, the colonized can get rid of the colonizers’ cultures and stand by their beliefs (Salih 168).
Lalami’s quote is extremely deep because equating a phenomenon to a fact is extremely difficult. According to Lalami, colonialism is like a disease that leaves a trail of violence and destruction. Based on the metaphors in the book by Salih, the quote is true. This is because colonization is like the flow of Nile where any changes made to the flow lead to destruction. Memmi and Fanon agree with this quote because of the psychological effects colonization has on the colonized. Finally, Salih states that the colonized should refrain from the colonizers’ culture and retain their own as the only way out of colonialism.
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