Sunday, March 27, 2011

From the Colonizers' Perspective

RESIDENT: You should have kept me informed, Pilkings. You realize how disastrous it would have been if things had erupted while His Highness was here.

PILKINGS: I wasn’t aware of the whole business until tonight sir.

RESIDENT: Nose to the ground Pilkings, nose to the ground. If we all let these little things slip past us where would the empire be eh? Tell me that. Where would we all be?

PILKINGS: [low voice] Sleeping peacefully at home I bet.

(Soyinka, 38-39)

In a postcolonial sense, this passage is unique because it focuses not on the colonized, but on the colonizers. With the character of the Resident, we see the traditional representative of the uncaring ruling people. He is more concerned with maintaining order so that his prince can have a fun party, so he completely disregards the death of the native people’s king. This African monarchy had been in place long before the Europeans arrived, and yet, the Resident sees their ceremony as nothing more than a speed bump in his ruler’s tour of the land.

Pilkings, however, is not the same as the Resident. In fact, this scene invokes the reader to sympathize with Pilkings. This exchange displays him, not as an uncaring, harsh officer, but as a displaced character. His true desire is not to subjugate these natives, but to go back to his own land. He is aware that he does not understand their culture and it frustrates him. He longs to be among his own people, who share his beliefs. Pilkings is not a colonizer, he is merely a citizen who has found himself among the colonizers.

No comments:

Post a Comment