History, historiography and self in Ngugi's Petals of Blood

Glenn Hooper

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    When Frantz Fanon spoke of the means by which colonial domination was achieved, he spoke not just of military engagement, nor of the means whereby the colonial landscape became a metaphor for the regimented life of the colony,1 but of a process so highly organized that it became a central point of negotiation long after the moment of national liberation had been achieved. Although Fanon concentrated on the broadly psychological effects of colonialism, and of the various supplementary agencies of the state, he focussed on one aspect of colonial, and arguably neo-colonial,authority that was to have considerable, and lasting, influence: the writing of history. In spite of the fact that recent research reveals a contemporary obsession with historiography, and with the methodological difficulties involved in reaching something like a balanced and value-free approach, the historiography which emerged from the colonial period, suggested Fanon,offered a particularly straightforward set of procedures. Used more as a tool of oppression than anything resembling a scholarly exercise, such history-making systematically precluded native participation in anything other than rudimentary ways, presenting colonial contact as a necessary,and invariably beneficial, moment. 
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-62
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Commonwealth Literature
    Volume33
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 1998

    Keywords

    • Ngugi wa Thiong'o
    • 'Petals of blood'
    • Franz Fanon
    • colonial literature
    • Kenya

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