No one likes to be told how to live. In the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, missionaries came to Africa to teach the natives a new way of life, Christianity. The natives had lived one way their entire life, and enacted their beliefs whole-heartedly. European missionaries wanted to convert them from these ways. Each group of people had a difficulties communicating with each other; this caused a type of ignorance towards the other. Joseph Conrad did an adequate job portraying the views of Europeans in his novel Heart of Darkness and why they felt they needed to be in Africa. The traditions and beliefs in these two novels caused a major separation between the natives and whites; could this have caused more damage than good?
What does it mean to be uncivilized? Uncivilized means:
–verb (used with object), -lized, -liz•ing. to bring out of a savage, uneducated, or rude state; make civil; elevate in social and private life; enlighten; refine: Rome civilized the barbarians. (Dictionary.com)
The Europeans had this common belief that Africa needed to be civilized. As I read through these books I felt that the Europeans thought they were helping the Africans become civilized through Christianity. Ones definition of civilization depends on their point of view. Joseph Conrad shows how the white man viewed the natives in his word choice, he states in his book;
‘Instantly, in the emptiness of the landscape, a cry arose whose shrillness pierced the still air like a sharp arrow flying strait to the very heart of the land; and, as if by enchantment, streams of human beings-of naked human beings – with spears in their hands, with bows, with shields, with wild glances and savage movements, were poured into the clearing by the dark – faced and pensive forest. (pg134 Conrad)
When Conrad calls the native Africans words such as wild and savage, he is expressing what the Europeans would’ve thought at that time. Were they really wild savages?
The natives had a completely different way of life than the Europeans did, and with any religion, the followers believed in entirety. In the novel Things Fall Apart, Achebe develops the African’s beliefs fully. Many whites thought of the native Africans as being uncivilized. The natives were just as much civilized as the whites, if not more. They seemed to have supplementary structure and followed their beliefs more so than the whites. It was the ignorance of the white men not to realize how civilized the natives really were. The natives were civilized, just in their own way, but the Europeans still wanted to civilize the natives. ‘Heart of Darkness projects the image of Africa as “the other world,” the antitheses of Europe and therefore of civilization, a place where man’s vaunted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant bestiality.’ (pg 3 An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness) Europeans professed to be great, ‘civilized,’ people, but in...