An image of africa summary

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an image of africa summary

An Image of Africa by Chinua Achebe

Beautifully written yet highly controversial, An Image of Africa asserts Achebes belief in Joseph Conrad as a bloody racist and his conviction that Conrads novel Heart of Darkness only serves to perpetuate damaging stereotypes of black people. Also included is The Trouble with Nigeria, Achebes searing outpouring of his frustrations with his country.

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Published 17.07.2019

Colonization of Africa - summary from mid-15th century to 1980

Summary of Work In this article, Achebe discusses the racism that the West holds, particularly in its views of Africa.
Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness'”

Marlow narrates his adventures with a tinge of apathy for the enslaved. In this book, the author portrays the European ideas of civilizing Africa as well as the ideas of imperialism and racism. Although Conrad refers darkness many times in the book, especially in the title, he did not give any clear statement what the darkness was and what aim is he approached by the use of darkness. Chinua Achebe? True, lasting happiness matters more than ones social rank or ones rank of wealth. Okonkwo, who is the main character in this book, is trying his best to be the man that is father was not.

A Nigerian-born professor tears apart Joseph Conrad's revered, classic novella and accuses Conrad of being a "'thoroughgoing racist. If this were a boxing match, let's just say there'd be a lot of blood on the ground and it wouldn't be Achebe's. Of course, Conrad's already long gone, so it's not exactly the fairest fight either. If Conrad's use of Africa "'as setting and backdrop"' is part of what makes him a "'racist"' in Achebe's mind, then is it ever possible for a Western writer to create a story about a foreign land and have it not be racist? Achebe does point out that since Conrad's story is pretty complex—with a story within a story and a narrator behind a narrator and all—that maybe people could view the "'racist"' attitudes as the character Marlow's view and not Conrad's. But Achebe's not totally buying that idea. Is he being too harsh on Conrad, especially since Conrad's book came out before the twentieth century and all the PC movements that came with it even began?

Africa has had a negative image for many years and even today, this image persists but to a less extent. This bad image of Africa did not always exist. Europeans did not immediately see Africans as inferiors because of their cultures or their skin color. At that period, everyone was considered as humans. But there came a point where Europeans thought that they were a bit superior to other races.

The essay was included in his collection, Hopes and Impediments.
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4 COMMENTS

  1. Laurent D. says:

    Open Document.

  2. Ryan P. says:

    He claims that Conrad propagated the "dominant image of Africa in the Western imagination" rather than portraying the continent in its true form

  3. Nathans101 says:

    Chinua Achebe's Response to Conrad

  4. Zara M. says:

    "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness" is the published and amended version of the second Chancellor's Lecture given by Chinua Achebe.

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