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Colonization of the African continent brought many changes. Considering it a dark continent with barbaric traditions and uncivilized people, the colonialists undertook to bring changes in the way things were done. In a short period, they had scrapped off all they had found in Africa and replaced them with their own. Religion became less African as time progressed due to the influence of the missionaries. The language also changed as gradually, the colonies adopted education, something that had been lacking previously in the continent. This is not to say that there was no education in pre-colonial Africa (Uduku et al, 28). In fact, there was. However, the education did not concentrate on classrooms, books and pencils as it later turned out. This essay discusses and focuses on the meaning of the quotation “the condition of native is a nervous condition”.
Pre-colonial Africa, even though it was considered backward, had a set of rules that governed the society, and for most communities, it was a peaceful life. However, with the coming of colonialists and the onset of colonization, the situation changed. Most of the practices, including cultural, social and religious were discarded and the natives (the Africans) were converted to a new lifestyle (Uduku et al, 67). This is true for both during and after the colonial period. Apart from adopting new ways of lives, new religions and new cultural practices, the natives adopted a new governing system too. Do not be fooled that it was a willing process. Most of the natives resented the control and the dominance that the colonialists had over them. Frantz Fanon, in his article Pitfalls of National Consciousness, notes that the natives fought vehemently for equity and for their liberation; afterwards, they entered nationhood more confused than they were before. That is what led most African countries to rebel and eventually attain independence. On attaining independence, most countries did away, not only with the colonialists, (some of whom were forced to migrate back to their mother countries), but also with their laws, policies and governing systems that had been put in place by the colonialists. The transition was not easy though. According to Fanon, the unpreparedness of the leaders to the problems that lay in waiting was enough to cause disorder in the nationalization process. When things did not go smoothly, the African leaders turned back to their mother colonialists for assistance. Essentially, that is the “nervous condition of the natives”. It refers to the fact that despite attaining independence, most of the African countries were still unable to govern themselves without the mother colonialists coming in to help. The inefficiency among the African leaders as they cannot replace the colonialists also comes into play. In his article, Fanon points out to the fact that when the other races went away, the factor of tribalism set in.
The fact that African countries and their leaders were still unable to completely govern themselves without interference or influence from the colonialists marks a nervous stage of the transition. This dominance is brought out clearly in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s novel, in which she highlights the life of young Tambu as she rises from an illiterate background, goes head, and pursues her education under the care of her uncle who is a dean at a missionary school (Dangarembga, 33). A colonialist effect is presented through Tambu’s uncle Babamukuru who went away from his country together with his wife in order to achieve higher levels in his education. This is commonly termed brain drain, a process by which natives of a less fortunate country who are educated leave their countries for foreign countries to search for greener pastures or to pursue further studies. Some characters in the novel also show elements of westernization most notably Nyasha, Tambu’s cousin who finds it hard being an African woman after spending most of her childhood in England where her father Babamukuru was studying. Fanon, in his article The Pitfalls of National Consciousness, argues that nationalism rarely benefits the people on the ground and neither does it liberate them as the rules, laws and policies that are in place, eventually end up in favor of the colonialists. He also observes that national leaders are usually coerced into action with consequences and threats issued if they do not abide by the wishes of the “masters”. He maintains that when the colonialists left, the place of racism was taken over by tribalism and greed.
In conclusion, the African continent is still under the influence of the colonialists despite the assumption of independence and nationalism. Greedy leaders who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of the citizens further make the situation worse. Nevertheless, the countries are still nervous as their moves are being closely watched and monitored and are still suffering from the effects of colonization through social, religious and most importantly, cultural erosion.