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Lazuardi Rinaldi
Mr. Bierbaum
Honors English 10
January 16, 2017
Perspective Paper
The colonization of Africa by the Europeans brought many changes that significantly
affected the society. This invasion of white foreigners was based on a mentality to improve the
conditions of the community there, yet instead it disrupted the traditional lifestyle, creating
havoc that tore societies apart. These colonizers viewed Africa as a ravaged, primeval location
with unsophisticated beasts ruling the lands, and their mission was to civilize them. Despite the
fact that the Europeans and Africans coexisted together at the time, both had different
perspectives on the African people, the Europeans, and the topography of Africa. However, the
Eurocentric viewpoints towards Africans are quite negative, mainly due to their
misunderstanding of them.
Although the Europeans viewed the African people as unsophisticated, uncivilized
beasts, the Africans saw themselves as refined individuals who honored warriors. In Joseph
Conrads Heart of Darkness, he wrote, The prehistoric man was cursing us, praying to us,
welcoming us -- who could tell? We were cut off from the comprehension of our surroundings;
we glided past like phantoms, wondering and secretly appalled (13). Conrads words show that
the Europeans inability to understand them is a major reason why they are so ignorant about the
lives of these Africans, leading them to believe the ideology of these natives as wild animals due
to their opposing actions. Furthermore, in Theodore Roosevelts speech, The Expansion of
White Races, he wrote that the Europeans viewed the Africans as mere savages, whose type of

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life was so primitive as to be absolutely incompatible with the existence of civilization (1).
Since the lifestyle of the Africans was far different from the Europeans, the whites denounced the
savages, spreading the negative mindset about these misunderstood Africans. However, the
Africans perceive themselves as developed people who respect masculinity. In the book, Things
Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo, one of the most successful men in the Igbo society, is
known for his wrestling and farming. Due to these factors, he was able to rise up his social
status. The quote, Yam stood for manliness, and he who could feed his family on yams from one
harvest to another was a very great man indeed (Achebe, 12), shows that the native civilians in
Africa respected and honored those who are strong, as they are the ones who can protect their
families and farm the crops for them to survive. In their society, being powerful is of paramount
importance, and for this reason, it is evident why the Europeans view them as barbarians.
Because they are only able to observe, but not speak with the Africans, the Europeans would
never understand the Africans appreciation of strength, leading the whites to create a negative
stereotype towards the natives.
On the other hand, the Africans viewed the Europeans as intruders who are destroying
their home. The introduction of Christianity in the African communities created many conflicts,
resulting in instability. As said in Things Fall Apart, The white man is very clever. He came
quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to
stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on
the things that held us together and we have fallen apart (Achebe, 62). Achebes words show
that the Africans did not expect the Europeans to destroy and split their society until it was far
too late to change. However, the Europeans themselves thought they were much more than just
colonists. The quote, They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force -- nothing to

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boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of
others (Conrad, 5), shows that these imperialists were much stronger than the Africans and that
they believed they were of the superior race.
In the Eurocentric perspective, the continent of Africa was viewed as one that is
extremely primitive. In Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness, the author described the topography
of Africa as one of the dark places of earth (3), continuing on by writing, cold, fog, tempests,
disease, exile, and death -- death skulking in the air, in the water, in the bush (4). His overexaggerated description shows how biased Conrad is, proving the negative mentality of many of
these Europeans. Despite that, in the perspective of Africans, their home is much more developed
than the Europeans would think. Achebe wrote, At such times, in each of the countless thatched
huts of Umuofia, children sat around their mothers cooking fire telling stories, or with their
father in his obi warming themselves from a log fire, roasting and eating maize (12). His words
clearly show that there is a well-organized infrastructure in Umuofia, which is a factor of a
civilized society.
Although both the Europeans and Africans considered the Africans, Europeans, and the
landscape differently, it is clear that the Europeans are giving a more biased and negative view
towards them. If the majority of the whites could communicate with the natives, things might
have gone differently in history. Nevertheless, the imperialism of Europeans did result into
significant changes, albeit ones that disrupted Africa for the years to come.

Works Cited
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York, Anchor Books, 1994.
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York, Knopf, 1993.

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Roosevelt, Theodore. The Expansion of the White Races. Celebration of the African Diamond
Jubilee of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 18 January 1909, Washington D.C. Address.