The Fantasy of Out of Africa vs. the Reality of Ngugi's A Grain of Wheat

The Fantasy of Out of Africa vs. the Reality of Ngugi's A Grain of Wheat

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The Fantasy of Out of Africa vs. the Reality of Ngugi's A Grain of Wheat


Both the film and the book versions of Out of Africa portray life in Africa as being a haven for European colonists. In these works, Africa was a beautiful land to move to where the Europeans could live like “royalty” in a sense. Their money went a lot further, and they could have African servants do all the work and chores for them. These African peoples adored the white settlers, and would peacefully work for them for very low wages. However, this view of Africa during colonial times is not accurate. The Africans did not always adore the Europeans; they were not happy to have their lands taken from them; and they did not usually accept the exploitation peacefully. This point is illustrated, for example, in Ngugi's A Grain of Wheat which reflects on the Mau Mau rebellion which led to the Kenyan independence in 1963.

The film Out of Africa creates an Africa where a white person, such as Karen Dinesen, could move to and live happily, for a while anyway. Granted this is a movie, but it is based on the autobiography of Karen Dinesen. The film shows Karen moving to Kenya in about 1913 where she was happily greeted by her many African servants who were awaiting her. With her she has all of her lovely, expensive possessions that go well in her beautiful farmhouse. Karen and the rest of the white colonists are shown to have lives that are all play and no work. They sit about while the servants wait on them hand and foot, or they go out on safaris to see the countryside and wild animals. The image that the audience receives creates a dream world for them. It does not have any indication of violence between the colonists and the Africans.

The book Out of ...


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...r, it is not entirely realistic in its portrayal of colonialism. Karen Dinesen wrote her story how she wanted to see it. I am sure her life was as she wrote it to be, but I do not think that she took in to account the treatment of the Africans. I do not think that she intended to write of those aspects of colonialism. In my opinion, she want to share with the world the greatness of Africa as she saw it. A Grain of Wheat was written to share with people the violence of the colonialism. The hardships endured by those colonized was meant to be brought out to the audience. These two pieces of literature were written for different reasons: one to show a wealthy white woman’s life in Africa as she saw it, and the other to show the violence brought about by the colonization of Africa.

Works Cited

Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. (New York: Grove Press)1963.

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