Chinua Achebe: The Education of a British-Protected Child

April 1, 2010 on 4:53 pm | In 书斋札记 | No Comments

Chinua Achebe 可称是当代非洲文学之父,The Education of a British-Protected Child 里收录了他的16篇带有自传色彩的散文,探讨殖民主义、后殖民主义、奴隶贸易、当代非洲文学、语言、传统等历史和现实的问题,欣赏他温和“折衷”的立场, 或用Achebe自己的话来说,“a view of events from … but the middle ground”。 在描述父亲和父亲的叔叔对他的影响时,Achebe写道,

“Those two — my father and his uncle — formulated the dialectic which I inherited. Udoh (his father’s uncle) stood fast in what he knew, but he left room also for his nephew to seek other answers. The answer my father found in the Christian faith solved many problems, but by no means all.”

在如何书写非洲文学这个话题上,Achebe 反复强调和阐述一个论点,摆脱从欧洲人笔下得到的非洲印象,去倾听非洲人自己的声音,“needed to hear Africa speak for itself after a lifetime of hearing Africa spoken about by others”。在驳斥西方人根据自己的利益需求、将非洲神秘化(mystification and mythologies)的同时,Achebe 亦指出,“it is not necessary for black people to invent a great fictitious past in order to justify their human existence and dignity today”。

但在使用何种语言、发出非洲人自己的声音上,Achebe 的态度开放包容,不认同摒弃英语的做法,并且指出,从历史上看,英语取代非洲本地语言,成为官方语言,并非来自殖民主义者的强迫,而是出于寻求沟通的需要和愿望。在多方言的语境下,英语被当地人接受,成为人与人之间实现交流的统一的语言工具。然而,在去殖民化的过程中,语言会被政治挟持和利用,“that language is a handy whipping boy to summon and belabor when we have failed in some serious way. In other words, we play politics with language, and in so doing conceal the reality and the complexity of our situation from ourselves and from those foolish enough to put their trust in us”。

Achebe的立场虽然温和“折衷”,但他的批评和见解却掷地有声,常常一针见血、十分犀利尖锐。例如在阐释 humanity上,他引用班图人的一句话,“A human is human because of other humans”,意即,“Our humanity is contingent on the humanity of our fellows. No person or group can be human alone. We rise above the animal together, or not at all.”


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