A Comment on “The shadow of the Sun-My African Life”; Ryszard Kapuscinski


Reading this wonderful piece of reporting on Africa’s coups, independence, poverty, colonial theft, massacres, ethnic and tribal struggles &  African deposits rulers , covering almost fourty years of a continent, that barely called Africa-only for convenience, raised the reader to the spheres of literature  rather than mere journalist reporting-with its lyrical style, in depth passionate approach and total love to the people in-person, whether a driver, or accompany or a hazardous  friend he accidentally met. “In reality, except as a geographical appellation, Africa does not exist”, the author wrote. 

Another writer of the same status, to me at  least, and originally from the same Polish heritage, Joseph Conrad, approached the same African Continent, almost a century ago- 1898, but purely with literary terms-namely: Heart of Darkness”.  kurtz, with his “horror, horror” last breathe,  “exterminate  all the brutes”, and bombarding the “wilderness”, to control the un-controlable, and conquer the un-conquerable;  the latter is echoing the former. It seemed that nothing has changed in the colonial mentality, whether it is nowadays,  one century ago, or since the Renaissance & Enlightment that took place in Europe-five centuries ago- since  the invention of “the Here and the Elsewhere”, as Michel-Rolph Trouillot, called it in his book: “Global Transformations-Anthropology and the modern world”. The North Atlantic -“the West”-shaped  a “Savage slot”, a space for the “inherently other”, the “Elsewhere” , while they stand for the Utopia & Order, the global legitimation & the claim to universal legitimacy. Anthropology was created as a discipline to specialize in the occupants of the savage. to satisfy the geography of the imagination of the North Atlantic & their ideal Utopia, as the Haitian-American  writer Trouillot argued. 

Reading Ryszard, Conrad & Trouillot is a necessity full of enjoyment and widening the horizon for us to embrace the Continental horrors of the modern world. Reading the reporting on Rwanda’s massacres between the Tutsis and the Hutus & how the earlier Colonial power, the Belgians interfered to help one tribe against the other in order to control the situation, with a result of almost one million were massacred. One note on the Palestine-Israel conflict by the author proved his inadequate info on the origins of the conflict, especially that majority of original native Palestinians were ethnically uprooted, with help from World Powers, East & West. 

In nineteenth century, at Berlin conference, the European powers met in 1884 to divide Africa among themselves using a bizarre notion: “that their possessions on this a continent be arranged in a straight line with territorial continuity. London wanted to have such a line stretching north to south, i.e., from Cairo to Cape Town, and Paris wanted wanted it from from west to east, i.e., from Dakar to Djibouti”, P.177…..I will not comment on the more bizarre & absurd notion of the village FASHODA where the two divisive lines met  & who came first, the British or the French  should own it….. The same colonial policies were implemented to divide the Arab Region, including Palestine, between France & Britain in 1916 in what is known as Sykes-Picot agreements. It was zig-zag line. Not as that of Africa. What a common farce!!!!  

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