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Post-colonialism is a study of the effects of colonialism on different cultures and societies . It focuses on how European countries believe they have the power to control and conquer “Third World” countries and how those countries resisted and responded to it. Post colonialism is also interpreted to be the study of cultural and political change caused by the European powers. Even though the experience of people of colour is different to the experience of white people under European ruling, it’s possible to create a general theoretical point featuring both. For hundreds of years colonialism gave Europeans the power to control people from other continents like Africa, Asia and Australia until the World Wars happened and eventually demolished this barbaric thinking. People who have been affected are given a voice through poems by poets who have been given the opportunity to showcase these issues. Some support poets from settler colonies as they believe their struggles deserve much more sympathy than the events of history that happened to the colonised “Third world” countries and vice versa.
After both World Wars, African fought to bring an end to the controls of colonialism so that their culture would be restored. They managed to receive their independence after World War 2 but they came a long way. Before receiving independence, in the 19th century, Africa was at their weakest point as African states suffered majorly politically which is still effective in today’s society. Whist they lived under the ruling powers of the Europeans, the standard of living was incredibly low because they were forced to go through extreme hardship. Even though the majority of the population were poor, the Europeans consistently increase their hardship, adding extremely harsh taxes. They’re hardship was already unbearable as they worked in mines, on farms and at occupations that were industry based but it wasn’t to work for themselves so they gain a reward, in fact it was to make it easier for the Europeans to take from the country. As we can see from this, the Europeans made other continents and countries a living hell all in the name of Colonialism.
Poems especially were a key device used because they were able to use different techniques to express their pain and suffering in a subliminal way. Poets like Noemia De Sousa did exactly that. Sousa was born in Maputo Mozambique, Africa in 1926 with mixed raced heritage. The poet moved to Lisbon, Portugal to work as a translator from the year 1951 to 1964. She moved on to a better opportunity as a local consulate of Morocco in Paris. Sousa moved back to Lisbon to become the member of the ANOP and a political activist. There she was given the opportunity to work with many newspaper and magazine companies. One of her most popular collaboration was with Mensagem CEI and Luanda. Noemia De Sousa later died on the 4th December 2002.
As we know colonialisation was at its hardest in Africa, the emotions of being exploited by ‘white-men’ is demonstrated in Sousa’s poem “If you want to know me”. She’s describes vivid vignettes of how the oppressed physical state expresses their emotional state in a horrific way; “Empty eye sockets despairing of possessing life” implies that the narrative voice in the poem, possibly herself, has lost hope in bringing back what was once theirs. The adjective “empty” emphasis the lost hope to the noun “eye sockets” telling us that the people’s sight has been blinded with destruction, invasion and torture and now they are left with no culture, society and sovereignty just skin and bones (metaphorically). Sousa uses emotive language that emphasis the horrific torture that happens to the people of Africa. “A mouth slashed with wounds of anguish” indicates how painful it is for the narrative voice to not being able to stick up for themselves or their country. This can be interpreted that the Europeans ripped the freedom of speech from the Africans and the aggressive verb “slashed” shows the reader how savage the methods of the European are and how cunning they are to attack the Africans to the point where are speechless, no possible way to cry for help. The physical and mental pain is a continuous theme shown to the reader throughout the poem. The poem mentions the “Body tattooed with visible and invisible scars” which is the permanent physical and mental toll that the person in the poem is seen to have. This can indicate that the “body tattoos” are a representation of the permanent damage caused on the surface and within. In the poem, Noemia de Sousa really expresses the oppression and loss of hope caused by the Europeans to the Africans in past that has changed the continent forever very vividly which supports the argument that African/Indian poets face harder struggles to pour out on their pages.
Moving onto the other side of the argument, settler colonialism is a type of colonialism that replaces the indigenous culture, sovereignty and identity. The difference between the colonisations of Africa and settler colonies like Australia is that the Europeans come to replace everything and ignore what the people know unlike the African side of the argument, the colonisers were there for economical gain. This is where settler colonies may have to upper hand because they’re culture is history and Africa is known for their culture even today. So settler colonisers were their permanently to change their society and culture to what we know as the Western culture. Colonialism is an ongoing structure to eliminate the indigenous society and population. These colonies do not stop being colonialised. In other types of post colonised countries, the end goal is to maintain their culture, identity and sovereignty and to stop the imbalance of power but in settler colonies the end goal is to end the unchallenged settler state and people.
A poet who expresses these oppressions is Lionel Fogarty. He is an Indigenous Australian poet and political activist who was born in 1958 in Barambah, Queensland. His first involvement in Aboriginal activism was in his teenage years, protesting about problems like Aboriginal health and deaths in custody and land rights. His brother, Daniel Yock, died whilst in police custody in 1993 which is one of the major reasons he is a political activist. Lionel Fogarty has produced numerous collections of poetry like ‘Mogwie Idan: Stories of the Land’ published in 2012, which have been showcased in major publishing houses and small presses in Australia. The common themes portrayed in Fogarty poems are the everyday realities of European occupation and the maintenance of traditional aboriginal culture.Fogarty’s poetry are said to be a powerful transcultural force as he incorporates his deep political conscience, experimentation on his poems and his linguistic innovation. .
One of Fogarty’s poems, “A Vera Takes A Ride”, expresses the struggles of being stripped of their identity by invaders of Australia. The reader is notified that the narrative voice is talking about the settler colony when it mentions native instruments like the “didgeridoo”. When instruments are mention people would often associate calm, pastoral connotations around them but Fogarty uses distressing verbs “groaning and straining” to showcase to the reader the “engaging struggle” and to indicate that even the peacefulness of their native instrument is no longer music to their ears. The repetition of the line “We use to ride emus and dolphins” is a constant reminder of the life that has been snatched from them. Fogarty uses nature to represent the indigenous peoples’ past to emphasis how their lives have changed for the worst when the Europeans settled into their homeland. Fogarty uses a metaphor to discuss how the Europeans enforcing a whole new lifestyle, neglecting the culture of the indigenous people. “Gonna rub in the juice” could be interpreted that the narrative voice in the poem is being force to consume this juice. The “juice” could represent the new culture that the native Australians are having to digest into their daily lives the same way juice is consumed into your system. Towards the end of the poem, the poet turns the struggle and pain presented into strength. The empowering line, “When we win the ministry” could be in favour of the other side of the argument as he portrays that all hope has not been lost meaning that their suffering is not damaging to the point where hope is lost like in Sousa’s poem.
In conclusion, African/ Indian countries suffered a lot of horrific suffering caused by the Europeans because of their resources. The Europeans exploited them by completing wrecking everything in their path to what they want and unfortunately these innocent people had to suffer the consequences. However, settler colonies like Australia, never got the opportunity to keep their culture. The indigenous way is a part of history to the point where old traditions are no longer practiced unlike Africa and India where traditions are still around. Whether people of colour’s oppression may have been worse compared to settling colonies because racism was also involved, both sides produce pieces of poetry that expresses their suffering like feeling of rejection and not belonging.
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