• Augustus nweke

The Ambivalence of colonial Tale.

Cubism from Heart of Darkness

Table of Contents

Acknowledgement. 1

Abstract. 3

Introduction. 4

Hybridity. 5

Identity in Art. 8

Heart of Darkness. 12

Colonialism.. 15

Post colonialism.. 17

Mimicry. 18

Art in Politics. 20

Conclusion. 23

Table of Figures. 27


Heart of Darkness, a novel by Joseph Conrad opened up the debate on colonisation, Racism, hybridity and identity. The story is believed by some to be a historical account on colonialism. The essay will explore how a mask from the place described as Heart of Darkness brought life to the already saturated world of European art. Cubism became the product of the cultural collision of the West and Africa with Colonialism as the vehicle that initiated the encounter. The research will examine hybrid culture and identity within the context of post-colonialism. Moreover, its arguments will be based mostly on Homi Bhabha’s theories on mimicry. The essay will examine Heart of darkness, a tale of imperialist adventure in Africa. It was trendy in the west, where many see it as an insight into the dark side of the world (Other). Postcolonial academicians have various interpretations of the content. They agreed that Conrad was an excellent writer and a good storyteller. He took advantage of superior Western sentiment over Others. To sell a story that portrays them as conquerors and agents of civilisation and enlightenment. The study will consider how artists and writers of African origin, explores the impact of colonialism on art, race hybrid culture and identity. "In the Heart of Darkness". An essay by Olu Oguibe will argue against the allocation of History by the west. He was critical of the West for the arrogance of arrogating to themselves the sole privilege of turning history into a colony whose borders, validity, structures and configurations even life tenure are solely and entirely decided by them. The theatricals being played out by politic and its ambivalence is rooted in the colonial system that speaks in a forked tongue. The socio-economic impact of which has provided topics with the artist as the political commentator.


The study will consider the experience growing up in Nigeria, and the UK, the question of culture, identity and the influence on artistic development and practice. The research will seek to explain the contemporary issues around post-colonialism, identity, and hybrid culture. It will review “The Location of Culture” by Homi K Bhabha, Olu Oguibe's, “In the Heart of Darkness.” Ngugi Wa Thiong’O’,” Decolonizing the mind” and Chinua Achebe, "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness”. At the time, Conrad was busy concocting stories of Congo as the heart of darkness. The Fang tribe living North of Conrad's River Congo, a people he referred to as savages and "cannibals in their place," are busy making sculptural forms and masks. Its encounter with Matisse, Pablo Picasso, had a profound effect on them, which marked the beginning of Cubism. A mask from a place described as Heart of Darkness brought life to the already saturated world of European art.

The research will examine the meaning of hybrid culture and identity within the context of post-colonialism. Moreover, It will set out the arguments based on Homi Bhabha’s theories on mimicry. This essay will examine Heart of darkness, a tale of imperialist adventure in Africa. This novel by Joseph Conrad was trendy in the west, where many see it as an insight into the dark side of the world (Other). This fiction and the story became in some quarters, the historical insight to colonialism. Postcolonial academicians have various interpretations of the content. They agreed that Conrad was an excellent writer and a good storyteller. He took advantage of superior western sentiment over Others. To sell a story that portrays them as conquerors and agents of civilisation and enlightenment. The study will consider how artists and writers of African origin, explores the impact of colonialism in the post-colonial era, concerning hybridity and contemporary circumstances surrounding globalisation. ."In the Heart of Darkness". An essay by Olu Oguibe will argue against the allocation of History by the west. He was critical of the West for the arrogance of arrogating to themselves the sole privilege of turning history into a colony whose borders, validity, structures and configurations even life tenure are solely and entirely decided by the West. The conclusion summarises the debate and considers the implications of hybridity in the Postmodern world.


Origin of the word can be traced back to the early 17th century, derived from Latin "hybrida[i]". It was rarely used until the 19th century when they used it for the biological or botanical description of crossing people of a different race. Etymologist has used it since then with human fertility. The rise in the use of "Racial Hybridity" as a narrative in the discourse of the colonial experience. The colonialist linked the belief that; "the "hybridisation" of different human races would eventually cause the downfall of the different "pure" species" (Sayegh, 2011). The colonialists negatively considered the idea of hybridity. While considering the relationship between the colonised and the colonisers. While reflecting on the idea of superior and inferior races and culture. Bhabha concluded that it is a colonial "Imaginary Imprint." that collides with its own, to displace, disjunct, and create a new hybrid that expresses itself in the form of culture and identity. The product of this encounter challenges: The belief and experience of the coloniser's statement, constructed in the “liminal space”.

The borderline space was referred to by Ashcroft, Gareth, and Helen Tiffin in their contemporary transcultural studies, as a ''space of energy'' that can question fixities and produce the likelihood for change and revision. This liminal space becomes the place where the fixities brought about by the "binary system" are exposed. The deconstructive tendencies provided by this space, where cultures collide, make room for transformation that happens in the contact zone. Most postcolonial theorists adopted the definition of hybridity as. "The creation of new transcultural[ii] forms, within the contact zone produced by colonisation" (Ashcroft, 2000). Homi Bhabha refers to the contact zone as the borderline space, the space that Hybridization manifests in various forms: "linguistic, cultural, political, racial. The Linguist and cultural theorist Mikhail Bakhtin used pidgin and creole language[iii], which is widely spoken in West Africa as examples to support the foundation of linguistic and cultural hybridity. "local languages often displaced in favour of European languages, the teaching of which was supported by creating institutions of higher learning in colonised societies in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean" (Mambrol, 2016). Ngugi pointed out that language is essential in how people see themselves and how they relate to their environment.

Growing up as a teenager and been fortunate to attend one of the elite schools in the state, founded by the English. On the doors are signage that reads in every classroom, "VERNACULAR IS FORBIDDEN[iv]". Speaking local dialect or pidgin English is an offence, for breaking the rule, students are named and shamed. Raised by parents who themselves are western educated, although they somehow ascribe to the traditional values in raising us. These values are always secondary to the western values seen as civilised. There is this understanding that anything and everything that is not western is fake; the only authentic and originals are western. Many postcolonial scholars believe that hybrid cultural formation has blended with local cultures and, in some places, has displaced the local culture for the European ones. Much local art, literary forms, and cultural practices no longer exist. They have metamorphosed with the local once to produce hybrids of culture, language, art and identity. Those on the opposing side of this debate, have come up with narratives on all forms of hybridity; biological, racial, and cultural. To them, Hybridity is not and should not be perceived negatively. It is the uniqueness of the hybrid space that offers the possibility to go beyond. The third space, as described by Homi Bhabha, the liminal space, the in-between space is:

where space and time cross to produce a complex figure of difference and identity." The hybrid position is no longer seen by some to represent negativity. Dr Sayegh, while quoting Mudrooroo in a presentation titled. "Cultural Hybridity and Modern Binaries[v]"; "Overcoming the Opposition Between Identity and Otherness.". Pointed out that instead, it has become a part of the "contestation weave of cultures (Sayegh, 2011).

Homi Bhabha is well known for his study on postmodern theories. Most of which linked to cultural hybridity and postcolonialism. His study on "the interrelations and interdependence between the colonisers and the colonised". Pointed out that; through social categorisation, a set of values and laws are impressed on the colonised to imagine thought of superior and inferior human races and cultures. This value collides with their own, "displacing or disjuncting it". This phenomenon influenced the hybrid expressions of culture and imagined society, which in turn challenges the belief and experience of the colonisers. By raising questions on who? What? Where? Renee Green opens interrogatory on interstitial space and the act of representation. This in-between space is a place where the emergence of a new community emerges as a project. Complex cultural engagement and interaction, regardless of it being antagonistic or affiliative, is negotiated. This continuous process of engagement and going beyond new binaries. To socially constructed imaginary within the third space, where cultures cross-part and dialogue take place. The effect of this interaction and collision is the emergence of a new hybrid culture. which has "the potential to empower cultural processes in these unbalanced cultural spaces." (Young 1995: 21; Ashcroft et al. 2007: 108).

The third space is not merely a reflective space that engenders a new possibility. But an "interruptive, interrogative, and enunciative" (Bhabha, 2004). space of new forms of cultural significance and construct — the limitations placed by existing boundaries fads away and established groups of culture and identity disputed. Bhabha noted that the third space is; an ambivalent site where cultural meaning and representation is not tied to the past and has no fixity[vi](Homi,2004). Bhabha argues that hybridity is the result of various types of colonisation, which lead to what he called cultural collisions and interchanges. He believes that hybridity has displaced every attempt to fix and control indigenous cultures and the deception of cultural isolation and purity. Bhabha is opposed to the Binary divide theory of Edward Said. He chooses to approach the issue of postcolonialism in a deconstructive way. He acknowledged that postcolonial culture is hybrid, which is recognisable by the colonised and the coloniser — citing the works of Renee Green's sites of Genealogy in a discussion on how a postmodern artwork creates a metaphor for interstitial space in society. He refers to Green's use of the museum building as a metaphor, while the stairway is the in-between space that connects the lower and the upper floors. The stairway now becomes the liminal space [vii]between the designation of identities. Still, referring to Greens work,

I used architecture literally as a reference, using the attic, the boiler room, and the stairwell to make associations between certain binary divisions such as higher and lower and heaven and hell. The stairwell became a liminal space, a pathway between the upper and lower areas, each of which was annotated with plaques referring to blackness and whiteness" (Homi, 2004, p. 5).

Symbolically, the stairwell initiates the process of interaction between the lower and the upper level. This open-ended passage, between fixed identification, brings about the possibility of cultural interactions. "This is the place where the crossing over of time and cultural differences occurs, and new signs of identity are formed" (Bhabha, 2004). Cultural collision leads to hybridity and replaces a fixed destination in a binary, with a kind that is both mutual and identifiable to the colonised and the coloniser. As in-between space becomes a place for disruption and displacement, the eminent collision, and subsequent interaction in this borderland produce a new hybrid of culture and identity. Which produces the answer to essentialism and the belief on fixed identification.

Identity in Art

the third space is not immune to contradictions and ambiguities[viii]; it provides a spatial politics of inclusion rather than exclusion that initiates new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration and contestation(Homi, 2004).

If a collision takes place in the hybrid space, referred to as the "third space." Is it proper to postulate that colonisation is the vehicle that initiated the cultural and artistic collision that produced cubism? If the answer to the above question is yes, then we might want to understand if cubism is hybrid art. Victoria Vesna is a professor and artist in the media art at the Department of Design UCLA Media Arts. She suggested that "hybrid art resides in between, around, above, and below what is generally accepted as "culture" and usually is experimental and exploring new ideas that require collaboration with other disciplines." (Sick-Leitner, 2015). This collaboration, as observed by Vesna can come about as a result of immigration which as part of human endeavour, becomes a pathway as we respond to the natural and human construct. It is both open-ended; it might be controlled but not eliminated. Based on the above understanding of the concept of cultural identity Stuart Hall concluded. That we should not see identity as an accomplished fact, we should instead think of it as an unfinished product, which will always be in the process, never complete and always constituted within, not outside, representation. “Hall believed identity to be an ongoing product of history and culture, rather than a finished product” (, 2019). Different theories and methodologies used by various critiques affect the way we conceptualise identity. The writer has simultaneously used parallel terms to try and define Identity as a ''socio-cultural construct''. An individual's cultural identity consists of several aspects, but the most common and often referred to in art and literature concerns the area of one's cultural identity: ethnic, racial, gender, language, social, economic, geopolitical, religious, ability/ disability, professional.

Yinka explores identity, colonialism, and post-colonialism within the contemporary circumstances surrounding globalisation. A postcolonial hybrid artist. Yinka Shonibare has been able to come up with works from a mixed source of history, combined in some exuberant, magical, unexpected objects, in some cases, it manifests in Dutch Wax which screams African and yet tells western stories. Although some of his works are recreations of famous paintings, they still carry the excitements and exuberance associated with his work, which are original but recreate themes from classical European history. He uses media of sculpture, film, painting, and performance and installation to explore. Yinka refuses to reference his works to the enlightenment period because he believes that the Western enlightenment project was a big fallacy used along with religion to colonise and make other cultures less significant. Yinka's works are not cubism or anything in that category.

Figure 1 Les demoiselles D’Avignon

Nevertheless, looking at the influence, the cross-cultural heritage, the close tie between his Africa and British heritage can be seen, as he playfully re-enacts 19th-century romanticism and British imperialist past in his work. Picasso was able to incorporate the forms of his newly found African sculptures into his works. This revolutionary style brought about one of the most significant art movement of the early 20th century — Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon 1907 a painting experimentation that saw him use some features of a mask from Africa in the above painting, figures presented in volumes and planes, and the background merged with the foreground to form Geometric images and form. Yinka believes that form is an essential aspect of art; there is no separation of form and content because Form is an extension of content. Although he does not hang his creativity on forms alone, to him, it is never really about form; the form is just a vehicle. It is a means of saying what they want to say. There are many ambiguities in his works. Some critiques believed that his works do celebrate British culture; some think he is critical of the British colonial past, while others think he celebrates British dominance and colonial past in most of his works.

Figure 2 Nelson ship in a bottle

Influenced by both his heritage of Europe and Africa, Yinka Shonibare was able to visually interpret the very complex political dialogue around colonialism and post-colonialism. African textiles became a material of choice for him as he playfully recreates the aesthetics of Romanticism in Europe with African textiles. This interaction between historical European and African textile, as seen in some of the installations, sculpture, and paintings. The Swing which was a response to Fragonard painting(2001). His other installations suggest the impact of "European history through the use of classical aesthetics" (Jagoe, 2017). Shonibare has mastered the use of mix mediums in a playful manner. This method of using Dutch fabric to tell a western colonial storey ambiguously, without taking a position on either side, attest to his hybrid identity. In one of the writer's essays on ''historical and contextual studies AD102'' he observed as follows: Yinka Shonibare, without a doubt through his works and installation, initiated debates on identity, colonialism, and postcolonialism, politics, and globalisation. By declaring himself a post-colonial hybrid, he thereby positioned himself to a comfort zone that enables him to explore his mix cultural heritage.

Figure 3 Yinka Shonibare Swing Figure 4 Fragonard The Swing1767 courtesy Wallace collection

In an interview with Yinka, Anthony Downey came to this conclusion:

[a] colonial invention, Dutch wax fabric offers itself as both a fake and yet ''authentic'' sign of Africanness, and Shonibare's use of it in his paintings and sculptures accentuates a politics of (in)authenticity by simultaneously presenting both the ideal of an 'authentic' identity and identity as a fabrication (Downey, 2005).

He went further to say in an interview, that he has always imagined the fabrics to be authentically African, until he found out that the fabrics were Indonesian fabrics produced by the Dutch. Yinka was impressed by the history of the fabric, and the global trade connectivity, of the fabric. In a global society, cultural identity becomes the product of globalisation[ix]. John Tomlinson argues in a 2003 presentation that cultural identity is the product of globalisation and not its victim, to defend his position, he said that cultural identity "is the product of deliberate cultural construct and maintenance via both the regulatory and the socialising institutions of the state" (Tomlinson, 2003). How then can we classify cubism as an authentic art style? Is it African, Western, or hybrid of both? If the product of an African art form marks the beginning of an art style in the west. While quoting the Greeks, Heidegger said that: "A boundary is not were at which something stops but, that from which something begins its presencing" (Bhabha, 1994, p. 1). The postcolonial theorist, cannot ignore the border; it takes form in the area of constructed boundaries between peoples, nations, and individuals. Borderline[x] is the area between the lower and the upper referred to as the third space by Bhabha. "it provides a spatial politics of inclusion in place of exclusion that initiates new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration and contestation" (Bhabha, 1994, p. 2). If a collision takes place in the hybrid space, according to Homi Bhabha, then colonisation provides the space of cultural and artistic collision that produced cubism?

Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad touched on areas that have raised questions on colonisation and imperialist adventure in Africa. The story starts from river Thames; the writer described as “tranquil, resting, peacefully at the decline of day after ages of good service done to the race that peopled its bank” (Conrad, 1995, p. 32). Although the actual story took place in the River Congo, which in Conrad's description is the exert opposite of Thames. He compared going up the river Congo to travelling back to the earlier beginning of the world. Although what worries Charles Marlow the most is not the difference between the two rivers, the linkage of common ancestry, as the Thames too was once the heart of darkness, but it conquered it. By visiting the Congo river, he fears the risk of re-enacting echoes of the past and running to past forgotten darkness. Chinua Achebe was critical of Joseph Conrad's portrayal of Africa in his novel as the other world, the opposite of Europe, and by implication of civilisation. Achebe became convinced that by comparing the rivers and casting one as good and the other as bad and the derogatory words used to describe the indigenes is racially motivated:

Am talking about a book which parades in the most vulgar fashion prejudices and insults from which a section of humanity has suffered untold agonies and atrocities in the past and continues to do so in many ways and many places today. I am talking about a story in which the very humanity of black people is called in question. (Achebe, 1975).

Conrad's account, projected in character named Charles Marlow, generated so many reactions and reviews from theorists, artists, and writers like Olu Oguibe, Chinua Achebe, once accused Joseph Conrad of being racist. However, Ngugi Wa Thiong 'O does not entirely agree with Achebe's description of Conrad but postulates that Conrad is biased, but admires his ability to capture the hypocrisy of the ''civilising mission''. The notion that Africans are primitives and less than human was commonplace within western society, Conrad only used his talent in writing to exploit the already widely shared belief. Conrad, through a character named Charles Marlow, on page 34 criticises imperialism; he compares it to violent robbery accompanied by murder and land grab from other race.

They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a vast scale, and men going at it blind- as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter nose than our self (Conrad, 1995, p. 34).

Joseph Conrad, in his book "Heart of Darkness," was accused of racism because of his portrayal of the native. While reading through the various chapters, from one paragraph to another, Conrad used words that are considered by some postcolonial theorist of African origin. As deplorable and racist in modern standard, to describe either the looks of the native or how insignificant, less human and helpless their situation was. Insulting phrases like:

They were dying slowly--it was apparent. They were not enemies. They were not criminals, and they were nothing earthly now,-- nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom. (Conrad, 1995, p. 44).

His narrative was as if he was glorifying the exploitation and violent actions of the colonialist against the natives. By equating the natives to "black shadows of diseases and starvation," Conrad successfully stripped a people of their humanity. Although he once compared the colonialists as conquerors who prey on the weak with brute force.

Moreover, he compared them to land grabbing, robbers with the capacity to murder on a large scale against people because of the difference in complexion and looks. At every twist and turn, he either exaggerates or twists the fact in favour of his western audience, who will like to be seen as superior and an enlightening force. At the same time, the Other, the natives, and the colonised are the inferior, people lacking civilisation. In the second chapter of page 62, he referred to the natives enlisted crew members as; "fine fellows" but went ahead to label them as "cannibals-in their place." By portraying the natives in a harmful and humiliating way, objectification became preferable for identification and classification whose goal is to separate, exclude, and forced the Other[xi] into submission. This ambivalence became one of the principal methods of colonisation.

Cannibals in their place is not a problem. What causes anxiety to the white man is cannibals going out of their place. When that happens, there is the contestation of space, be it economic, political and cultural space. The imperialist knows what it is like when cannibals go out of their place. Kurz, a character in Joseph Conrad's novel, "Heart of darkness" His last word was horror! Horror is what a real cannibal that went out of place to peep into the Congo gave the natives. When the fear of horror is mutual, tragedy becomes imminent, no wonder Chinua Achebe once said; "Tragedy begins when things leave their place." Like the Colonialist leaving the comfort of Europe into what into the "Heart of Darkness" (Clarke, 2019). The colonisers believed that in as much as they controlled, contained, subdued and subjugate the cannibals, there would be no problems. However, there will always be problems because the elaborate strategy which was to check it has its fault. Mimicry has its slippage for it to be effective. The colonisers only wanted a copy that is not precisely the same. However, as these copies visualise power, they want and become more like the coloniser, but with a little difference, This is what makes the coloniser anxious. Franz Fanon observed that:


colonialism is not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and emptying the native's brain of all form and content. By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people and distorts, disfigures and destroys it (Fanon, 1967).

We were taught in our history lesson as a ten years old primary school student, that a Scottish sailor and adventurer by name Mongo Park discovered the river Niger. Further on the history lesson, we were told by the teacher that his boat was too large to navigate the river. He then decided to use the canoe. When asked how did he get the canoe? His reply was even more confusing when he said that he must have gotten it from the natives who lived by the riverbank and fished in the river. They set sail, and the boat capsised, he died together with his native helpers who were not known and forgotten. Today Mongo Park is celebrated as the man who discovered the river Niger even though there were natives whose lively hood lies on their activities in the river. Olu Oguibe raised this aspect of arrogating history, he argued against the enormous efforts made by the colonialist to distort and devalue the pre-colonial history of the colonised. He noted how the west has arrogated to themselves the privilege of constructing history and deciding the borders, validities, structures and configuration. By casting the West in the light of progress and civilisation, the natives are consigned into inconsequence, convinced to believe that they will fall back to barbarism, degradation and bestiality if the colonial settlers were to leave. He argued that:

The contest for history is paramount to the struggle for the redefinition and eventual decimation of centrism and its engendering discourse. Without restituting History to other than just the Occident, or more accurately recognising the universality of the concept of History (Oguibe, 2003)

Oguibe thinks that we must first acknowledge the universality of the concept of history while leaving the specifics to individual cultures. Because it is unrealistic and impossible to contain the ideological concepts of Modernism, Modernity and Contemporaneity in one area of discourse. He disagrees with the continual denial of modernity to Africa or Other cultures by the West and argued against “the underlying necessity to consign the rest of humanity to antiquity and atrophy, to cast the West in the light of progress and civilisation” (Oguibe, 2003). He believes that it is inconsequential always to counter the discourse of the centrist because that gives credence or recognition to their argument. He argued that instead of moving the discourse forward as suggested by Ngugi, we should be dismissive of the idea of a centre by superseding it in a discursive term. He believes that discussing African modernity/ modernism, based on the existing idea of a centre is unjustifiable because it disregards the 'disparities' within Africa cultures. Modern African languages, arts and culture are the product of the ambiguous relationship that existed between the colonisers and the native. However, cordial or antagonistic. It may produce a hybrid of natives who are more like the coloniser.

Hybridity is a product of the ambivalent relationship between the colonised and the coloniser. It is not unusual for most ardent colonial, and post-colonial critics of African origin to adopt the language and the culture of the coloniser. Even the most critical of the colonial era novelist Achebe, writing in reply to Obi Wali, admitted that English is a language of Power. He argued that "English allowed for communicating across the different African languages while also reaching wider audiences in the West; that it was the language of power; that English could be Africanized so that it carried the African experience" (Ngugi, 2018). Chinua Achebe, in his novel, "Things Fall Apart" was very critical of the white man, whom he blamed for destroying the African language and culture. He questioned the white man's knowledge of our custom about land and said: How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? However, he says that our customs are evil. Language and culture became a significant weapon used for colonisation; its aggressive deployment silenced any dissenting voice of opposition. The natives were made mute and dumb and could not speak against their exploitation and oppression. Ngugi Wa Thiong O observed and said that the bullet was the means of the physical subjugation. The language was the means of spiritual subjugation.

The colonial project was both military and political control of the invaded territories, this hegemonic venture of the colonials, was mainly aimed at creating a form of cultural hierarchy, with the west as the civilised superior and the rest of the world cast as the primitive inferiors. The unresolved relationship between the coloniser and the colonised brings us to the question of mimicry.

To define the natives and how they differ from the West, they portrayed them in harmful and humiliating ways. The objectification of Others became necessary in other to impose a global system of identification, and classification with the main aim of separation, to exclude and suffocate the Other into submission. A new reality and more than required narratives of the natives become a way of disavowal whereby the subjective representation of fact, becomes the actual reality. Through the production of knowledge by way of colonial discourse, the colonisers were able to control information, and they arrogated on themselves the sole right to determine what is accurate and factual. They provided the motherland with information on land, language and culture of the native.

Influenced by poststructuralist theorists like Derrida, Foucault and Lacan. Bhabha developed a series of concept from Edward Said's 'insight about colonial power as a discursive practice'; he provided a theory widely used in colonial discourse. He said:

it is an apparatus that turns on the recognition and disavowal of racial/cultural/historical differences' "Its predominant strategic function is the creation of a space for a “subject people” through the production of knowledge in terms of which surveillance[xii] exercised, and- a complex form of pleasure/unpleasure is incited. It seeks authorisation for its strategies by the production of knowledge of coloniser and the colonised, which are stereotypical but antithetically evaluated. The objective of colonial discourse to construe the colonised as a population of degenerate types based on racial origin, in order to justify conquest and to establish systems of administration and instruction (Bhabha, 1994).

Post colonialism

After gaining independence from their colonisers, most former colonies never really achieved complete political and economic freedom they hoped. Independent from their colonisers did not deliver its dividend, a new form of colonisation emerged, neo-colonialism. The elites in these newly independent state through class categorisation became more exertive as they envision power. They dominated and exploited the economy and politic of the newly independent state, thereby reproducing colonisation. Neo-colonialism became a new form of domination and exploitation. Post colonialism continues as a resistance, against slavery, immigration, suppression, representation, racial, gender and discrimination. The issues mentioned above may not relate directly to colonialism, and in discursive terms, it is not fixed but forms an essential part of the discourse on colonialism.


Mimicry[xiii] reveals something in so far as it is distinct from what might be called itself that is behind. The effect of mimicry is camouflage. It is not a question of harmonising with the background, but against a mottled background, of becoming mottled- exactly like the technique of camouflage practised in human warfare.' Jacques Lacan, The line and light', Of the Gaze” (Bhabha, 1994).

Mimicry in postcolonial discuss is linked to hybridity. Bhabha maintains that a form of relationship develops between the coloniser and the colonised over after a long time, depending on the experience of the colonised, this relationship can be either good or bad it can be mutually beneficial or not, but one thing that cannot is clear, is the ambivalent feelings toward the coloniser: some good feelings, a little desire for what they have; some bad and repulsive feelings at what they represent. In the fourth chapter of his book “Location of Culture”, he describes Colonial mimicry or sly civility as he calls it later; “is the desire for a reformed, recognisable Other, as a subject of a difference that is almost the same, but not quite” (Homi, 2004). It presents itself as a representation of a difference that is itself a process of disavowal.

Bhabha argues that this ambivalence creates a metaphorical cut in the identity of the colonised other as evidence in colonial and post-colonial arts, culture, and language which are a hybrid of their cultural identity and the coloniser's cultural identity — confronted with various challenges, the desire for a reformed, recognisable Other. A subject that is different almost the same but not quite arouses. Bhabha sees mimicry as one of the most effective strategies deployed by the colonial power to control knowledge through the feeling of superiority over the natives who starts feeling inferior thereby imitating the language, behaviours, attitude and culture of the colonial master. In turn, suppresses the cultural identity of the colonised people leaving them in an ambivalent and confused state. Mimicry, according to Huddart, is "exaggerated copying of language, culture, manners, and idea" (Huddart, 2006) furthermore, he contended that mimicry is repetition with differences.

The coloniser conveys this feeling of superiority over the natives. Who then sees himself as the inferior to the almighty and powerful colonisers. They became copies "a recognisable Other" that is not the same but mimics of the colonisers. Bhabha argued that because the thought of having a double, makes the colonisers anxious, for it to be effective, Mimicry, is made to produce "slippage”. “Mimicry is, thus the sign of a double articulation; a complex strategy of reform, regulation and discipline, which 'appropriates' the Other as it visualises power"(122 Bhabha sees mimicry as one of the most effective strategies of authority, deployed by the colonial power to control knowledge. Its objective was to portray the colonisers as superior over the natives. Who then internalise the feeling of inferiority to the colonisers. This complex strategy which prides itself on post-enlightenment and liberty produces a knowledge that is opposite. Bhabha was very critical of this double articulation. The enlightenment missions embarked upon by the colonialist were nothing but a hoax. Its real intent is economic exploitation and control, but to do that they have to subdue and subjugate the native with immense force and overwhelming brutality. Marlow the fictitious character in "Joseph Conrad's" novel "Heart of Darkness". Observed that:

They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got". "It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a grand scale, and men going at it blind as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter nose than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. (Conrad, 1995).

This view was also shared by "Ngugi Wa Thiong O" in his book, "Decolonizing the mind." He said: "In my view, the language was the most important vehicle through which that power fascinated and held the soul prisoner. The bullet was the means of physical subjugation. The language was the means of spiritual subjugation." (O, 1986). The effect of colonialism on a people is far-reaching, years after the colonisation, the colonised people still find it difficult to exert themselves. Culture, language and identity are decimated by the imperialist. The appeal of the colonial culture collides with that of the colonised as they imagine power. It produces a knowledge that is almost but not entirely the same to challenge the knowledge of the coloniser. These cause coloniser anxiety when the colonised start to exert themselves; the relationship between them is either mutual or antagonistic.

Mimicry is constructed around ambivalence, for it to be effective; it must not be perfect; it must have its difference (slippage). It is a representation of a difference that is itself a process of denial "disavowal". It represents a difference that is in denial of itself. It is also present in the complicated strategic function of the colonial authority by increasing surveillance and threatening normalised knowledge and disciplinary power. According to Bhabha, the aim of Mimicry is twofold, disclose and disrupt the ambivalent in colonial discourse."Mimicry repeat rather than represent" (Bhabha). The colonised black in the process of trying to become white turns into something different from his race, and not entirely like the white race either. He becomes a copy of the white, almost but not entirely the same. He is excluded from his society and not accepted by the white.

Art in Politics

Over the past years, the artist has anchored their creativity on the social,-cultural issues of their time. Brexit is the most contagious issue of our contemporary time, and artist like Banksy and Grayson Perry have come up with narratives through their works to push the debate further. As the debate on BREXIT heats up, the political drama that followed, prepared the ground for political commentary, with the artist as political commentator and social critic. Banksy and a host of other artist produced works that are critical of the UK political elites and their handling of the BREXIT[xiv] issues. One of his famous works was his drawing showing the formation of cracks on the EU flag as a workman chisels away one of the 12 stars. Grayson Perry in a follow up to his 2017 ITV 4 documentary "Divided Britain" designed a pair of vases through crowdsourcing. The vase made representations of the ongoing BREXIT debate. One of the vases is to remain and depicted those supporting remain. While the other is for left, depicting that supporting leave. These pair of vases, made in 2017 are symbolic of the social rift caused by BREXIT. Grayson Perry used images and ideas from the public concerning BREXIT and Britishness. The remain vase featured images of some famous Liberal global leaders, Shakespeare, the late MP Jo Cox, who became the first victim of far-right Brexiter, logos for Waitrose and the NHS to highlight the British liberal values. The left vase featured Winston Churchill, Nigel Farage, the Queen, and the Cadbury's logo highlighting the nationalist pride of Britain's glorious past.

Figure 5 Brexit Vase by Grayson Perry. (Kennedy, Maev, 2017)

As the main parties' grapple to hold on to power, the fortunes of the far-right extremist parties increased in most European countries. Germanys frp party won seats in the Bundestag. Just about the same time, an obelisk was erected in konigs platze by Olu Oguibe a monument, dedicated to strangers and refugees. This 52-foot sculpture situated in Konigsplatz, Kassel. The strong message in this work which he took from the bible book of Mathew. ''I was a stranger, and you took me'' translated into English, German, Turkish and Arabic. The work was commissioned in 2017 for documentia 14, sparked severe controversy as the city announced that they are buying the towering obelisk in the city centre. The refugee crisis and the re-emergence of the far-right party and their supporters mounted opposition to the monument even to the point of calling and referring it as disfigured art. It is the term used by the Nazis for art deemed “degenerate”.

Figure 6 Olu Oguibe's Monument dedicated to Strangers (Davis, 2018)

The social-economic consequences of colonialism. Can be seen manifested in various form in the postcolonial era, the class categorisation, identity and migrant crises, can all be linked directly or indirectly to a system started by the colonialist and secretly adopted by many Western powers. A new form of domination has further subjected many third world country into dependency and exploitation. Cultural displacement can lead to identity crises that manifest themselves in various forms, including crime and creativity. The rise in knife crime as a result of postcode gang wars, highlighted by some of UK's most talented artist and Master of Modern culture Banksy made a stab-proof jacket worn by Stomzy in 2019 Glastonbury performance. The design of the vest is monochromatic black, and white union jack meant to highlight the rise in knife crime, notably, in London.

Figure 7 Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA (Jones, 2019).


The effect of Colonial policies on the natives are far-reaching and left some negative effect on the colonised. Most notably, in areas of language, culture, and identity. Wole Soyinka once said that “the philosophy of a people is embedded in their language”. Colonial powers actively reshaped the linguistic and cultural makeup of the colonised regions and introduced systems that were strange to the natives without considering the social-cultural needs of the subjects. How can they?. If their desire was selfish and designed to suit their own needs. Their interest was mainly to produce a copy, a mimic of a sort, a look-alike that is not entirely effective but good enough to serve the needs of the colonialist. Thi ambivalence system speaks in the forked tongue has exposed the colonisers to their double, a recognisable other because the more the mimics visualise power, the more they want it, and it is the fear of opposition and unrest that makes the colonisers anxious. Moreover, to be able to sustain the supply of cheap labour and resource for economic endeavours of the motherland, brute force was used to subdue and subjugate the natives as observe by Joseph Conrad in the novel.

The Heart of Darkness exposed the hypocrisies of the civilising mission and the enlightenment campaign of the West. Although many academicians and theoreticians have dealt with it, they, came up with various analysis. One thing not adequately looked into is the effect of this ambivalence system that declared freedom and equality to all men. However, in practice, racial discrimination, and class categorisation has almost made non-sense of the articles of human right charter. Linked to colonialism are most social issues like racism, mental disorder, and high poverty rate within the black, ethnic minorities and migrant communities. Franz Fanon blamed colonialism, as been responsible for the destruction of many civilisations, cultures and identity. He pointed out that colonisers are not satisfied with holding a people hostage and brainwashing the native furthermore, “By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures and destroys it” (Fanon, 1967). It is on this ground that Olu Oguibe questioned the right of the west to arrogate history remove Premodernism from Western history and replace it with primitivism for Africa and the Other culture. He submitted that we should be dismissive of the centrist arguments that West is the Centre of civility because to counter it is to accord recognition to the argument.

The artworks that were looted by the colonisers, from Africa during the enlightenment campaigns become items of interest to ethnographer, anthropologist and the art collectors. The interest generated first and foremost was due to previously misconceived knowledge and falsehood spread by writers like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of darkness. People described as savage, and fine cannibals but in the real sense, these people are creative geniuses whose works of art have furthered European cultural and societal advancement.

However, there are also positive experiences to this transatlantic cultural collision, facilitated by colonialism — a mask given to Maurice Vlaminck in 1905. Was bough of Him by Derain when he saw it and showed it to Picasso and Matisse, who were also greatly affected by it, This sparked a 20th century artistic and cultural revolution. A mask, as observed by Achebe, made by the Fang tribe, living north of Conrad's River Congo. The people he described as savage happens to be one of the worlds master sculptors and form maker. Frank Willett recorded this very event as the beginning of cubism infusion of new life into European art, which had entirely run out of strength.

[i] Hybrida: Latin for Hybrid, crossbreeding by grafting or cross pollination of different species to form the third breed. The Hybrid. [ii] Transcultural: Cultural practices of various kind in a contact zone [iii] Pidgin and creole languages: Pidgin English is a simplified form of communication that developes between two or more groups. Creole is a more structured form of communication and a mixture foreign language, passed down to generations and becames the spoken language of the natives. [iv] Vernacular is the local language or dialect. It differs from region. [v] Binaries: consisting of two, West and Other, [vi] Fixity: Steadiness, plural Fixities: state of permanence [vii] Liminal space: transitional space, space of ambiguity, space in between, according to Homi Bhabha, it is the Third Space, borderline space. [viii]Ambiguities: unclear, uncertain,having more than one meaning. The third space is an ambigious space. [ix] Globalisation: Economic and cultural forces operating worldwide. [x] Borderline :the point at which something begins its existence,presencing,the borderline space of new beginning. [xi] Other/other: separate from oneself. The colonised person is classified as other. [xii]Survellance: Imperialist strategy of observation for dominance [xiii] Mimicry: A post colonial theory that encourages the colonised to mimic the coloniser. By adopting the colonisers cultural exposis the ambivalent relationship between the colonised and the coloniser. [xiv] BREXIT: Acronym for United Kingdoms exit from EU


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