What Kind Of Portrayal Of Africans Would Encourage European Conquest Essay

 

  1. Introduction

The images of the “Dark Continent”, including photographic, literary, and even moving images, help to better understand the effects of European ideology on the life and development of Africans. Exploring the images of Africa and Africans, it is necessary to consider the goals set of Europeans, who exported Africans back to their home countries. The major goals include missionary work, economic exploitation and imperial expansion. It is necessary to distinguish between the depictions of Africa as a place and the portrayals of Africans as people. According to Chinua Achebe, the image of Africa is presented in literature as negative because it depicts a dark, frightening, unfriendly and timeless place populated by the savage men who lack the language to start communication and who behave as cannibals as they hunt for humans. Kevin Dunn believes that the images of Africans represented in the so-called “jungle” movies reflect the effects of the Depression era, during which the economic significance of the African colonies was increased. According to Kevin Dunn, “what these celluloid images suggest is that, consciously or not, the filmmakers were acting as cultural colonialists by reinforcing and legitimizing Western political practices in Africa” (149). In other words, the literary and moving images of Africans contributed to misperception of Africa and African people by Europeans, perpetuating and strengthening racism across other nations. Thesis statement: The negative portrayal of Africans would encourage European conquest of the continent in order to take full control of the trade and ensure the establishment of the laws to support the dominance of Europeans.

The major goal of this paper is to analyze one image of Africa and discuss how it emphasized certain aspects of African identity in order to appeal to certain aspects of European identity.

  1. Description of the portrayal of Africans that would encourage European conquest

What kind of portrayal of Africans would encourage European conquest? This question requires thorough investigation. Chinua Achebe, known as “the father of African novel”, believes that the image of Africa presented in Joseph Conrad’s work Heart of Darkness is negative as it refers to the place where black savages live. He writes, “Heart of Darkness projects the image of Africa as “the other world,” the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization, a place where man’s vaunted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant bestiality” (1785).

In addition, the images of Africans that were created in the minds of Europeans during their voyages to the western coasts of the continent promoted negative attitudes toward tribes. As the relationships between Africans and Europeans were focused on business, the images of Africa and Africans were developed to give way to the domination of whites. In order to justify the conquest of Africa and exploitation of African people, Europeans had to accept the idea that Africans could never become partners as they were inferior to European people, culture and beliefs.

  1. Analysis of the image

In order to analyze the image of Africans, it is necessary to refer to its visual and textual components. The visual component of the image will be discussed, based on the movie Sanders of the River (1935). The textual component of the image will be analyzed, based on the literary sources, like Chinua Achebe’s writing “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” and other sources.

  • Analysis of the visual component of the image

Analyzing the visual component of the image of Africa and its people, it is necessary to refer to the movie Sanders of the River (1935). The events occur in Nigeria, the colony of Britain. The image of Africans can be characterized as primitive, based on the plot of the movie. The main character of the movie is Robinson. His image stands for the noble man, while the images of other Africans stand for the whole continent of Africa, which is represented as incompetent, violent and even dangerous land. The key idea of the movie is that only the presence of whites can establish the proper laws and order in the African continent. Chaos in Africa is created by the actions of the savage tribes who want to kill white people and break the laws (Sanders of the River, 46.12 -46.50). Chaos, threatening violence and misunderstanding among tribes are the major characteristics of Africa.

Moreover, the visual component of the image of Africa highlights the continent’s wild life, describing it as uninhabited land. For example, in the movie King Solomon’s Mines, Africa is represented as “an emptiness, a void waiting to be filled, named and settled by the white men” (Dunn 163).

  • Analysis of the textual component of the image

The analysis of the textual component of the image of Africans shows that numerous writings about Africa tend to criticize Africans as they are represented as savage men. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness provides a negative image of Africa, defining it as “the other world,” which has nothing common with Europe or Western mind. The image of Africa is associated with the darkness of hell. The story of Heart of Darkness is based on the author’s own experience of visiting Africa. Therefore, many people believed Conrad’s views of Africa’s image. He describes Africans as illiterate, uncivilized and even savage people. The description of the river, the jungles, the blazing sun, and the dense forest influences the reader’s perception of Africa. The main character of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness says, “going up the river was like travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings” (53). Africans are described as people with their faces as masks. Conrad provides the portrayal of African life that can be characterized as “wild vitality”.  The dances of death reflect the savagery of nature and human minds (Achebe 1793). Generally speaking, the textual component of the image of Africa is associated with negative perceptions of white people.

  • How these specific components would appeal to certain European motivations for engagement with Africa

The specific components of the discussed in this paper would appeal to certain European motivations for engagement with Africa, providing an opportunity to Europeans to become more influential in solving the emerging problems. The Europeans traders used Africa as a source of commercialization.  For the African continent and Africans, it meant that many African products were brought to other continents. Because of the increased local economic activities, African people became dependent on the “extent to which previous trade relationships had been established with the international markets, as well as on the types of good that were exported” (Berge & Taddia 34).

Furthermore, these components could appeal to the spread of religion in Africa, reducing the negative effects of tribal beliefs and inhuman cults. In other words, European motivations for engagement with Africa include the spread of the missionary work across the continent, economic exploitation of African people and lands, as well as European imperial expansion in Africa.

  1. Conclusion

Thus, it is necessary to conclude that the images of Africa and Africans were influenced by the goals and motivations set by Europeans, including the spread of missionary work, the growth of economic exploitation and imperial expansion in Africa. This paper provides a careful analysis of the selected image, namely the portrayal of Africans that would encourage European conquest. Both the visual and textual components of the image of Africa contributed to negative perception of Africans by Europeans. Europeans were interested in taking full control of the trade and establishing the laws to support the dominance of Europeans.

 

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” Massachusetts Review 18 (1977): 1783-1793.

Berge, Lars & Taddia, Irma. Themes in Modern African History and Culture. libreriauniversitaria.it ed., 2013. Print.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Bibliolis Books, 2010. Print.

Dunn, Kevin. “Lights…Camera…Africa: Images of Africa and Africans in Western Popular Films of the 1930s,” African Studies Review 39. 1 (Apr., 1996): 149-175.

Sanders of the River. Dir. Zoltan Korda. Perf. Paul Robeson, Leslie Banks, Nina Mae McKinney. 1935. Film.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]

freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: June 30, 2022]
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