Africa has always been identified as the Dark Continent; but is it the native culture’s responsibility or is the stereotype caused by the influences of “civilized” society? CIvilized society lives in the “flicker” (Conrad) whereas the Africans live in the heart and soul of Nature allowing her to grow in and through them. Conrad, Achebe, and Kingsolver all view the natives in an overall positive light amid undertones of reverence and sympathy.
Each author has a unique tone toward the natives according to their personal experiences. All of the authors, however, recognize the “wild vitality” (Conrad) within the natural populace, and Conrad specifically goes so far as to declare that they are as “true as the surf along the coast” (Conrad). The “civilized” white men in all three novels feel it is their position to go to Africa and “fix” them—the very “thought of their humanity” (Conrad) is what causes the white man to label them as adversaries while the writers identify them as vibrant and whole. People as a whole stereotype Africa by calling it “the dark domain of poison-tipped arrows and bone-pierced lips” (Poisonwood Bible), however, the authors of these works all craft them in such a way as to display their personal reverence for the natives. They see, and want readers to see, how admirable the natives in reality truly are and sympathize with them on account of struggles with the colonists.
Details used throughout the novels further convey the authors’ thoughts and mood toward the native Africans. To these novelists, the African culture and people are beautiful—not because of artificial possessions, but because of their natural being. Even when their “bodies [stream] with perspiration” (Conrad) or their faces look “like grotesque masks” (Conrad) they are truly stunning. Simple details like their bodily appearance or persona like “courage [or] strength” (Conrad) aids the authors in creating a fresh way to look at society. Even something so minute as the “art of conversation” (Achebe) and the unity of the clansmen confirm that the Africans are just like the white man, except perhaps more civilized. The Africans never turn to violence unless provoked and even refuse to “[molest] the Christians” (Achebe) despite their attempts to liquidate them and their culture. When the authors begin to feel like they could be less “African about it,” (Kingsolver) they find the still have everything wrong from “top to bottom” (Kingsolver).
It is ironic that the authors discover (well at least two of them do) that they have everything wrong about Africa. They deem they are the more refined people and that, just by spending time in this Dark Continent, they can sense “the utter savagery” (Conrad)...