Black Consciousness in Caribbean Literature: A Critical Examination of : Current School News

Black Consciousness in Caribbean Literature: A Critical Examination of Sylvia Wynter’s the Hills Of Hebron, John Hearne’s Land of the Living, and Andrew Salkey’s Joey Tyson

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Black Consciousness in Caribbean Literature: A Critical Examination of Sylvia Wynter’s the Hills Of Hebron, John Hearne’s Land of the Living, and Andrew Salkey’s Joey Tyson.

ABSTRACT

This thesis examines “Black Consciousness” in Caribbean literature using a Marxist framework.. The thesis argues that religion as it was interpreted by the whites was anti-black.

Christianity was prejudicially, maliciously and cunningly used by European capitalist imperialists to enslave, colonise, and exploit black people in the Caribbean. This situation alienated the Caribbean.

In an attempt to free themselves from their bondage, the black Caribbean set to reinterpret Christianity to fit their purpose.

The thesis therefore argues that the miserable condition of the blacks in the Caribbean led them to turn to Africa, their original homeland, where they hoped to find salvation.

Furthermore, the thesis postulates that the post-independence leaders of the region are as useless to the black masses as their predecessors (ex-colonial masters), for the new regimes are still serving imperialist purposes to the detriment of the masses.

Thus, the people‟s protest against the new established order.Over the years, Caribbean writers have, with varying degrees of success, defended the interests of the oppressed and dispossessed black masses, in a white-dominated environment.

INTRODUCTION

1.1 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Historic occurrences may very well provide appropriate material for imaginative treatment (Blamires1991: 11). Therefore, there is a relationship between history and literature. Ngugi (1972:XV)‟s claim buttresses that:

Literature does not grow or develop in a vacuum, it is given impetus, shape, direction and even area of concern by social, political and economic forces in a particular society.

In other words, literature cannot be divorced from socio-political and economic factors, especially in the Caribbean where modern literature has grown against the background of European imperialism and its changing manifestations, namely slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism.

Therefore, the understanding of the matter of a literary work necessitates the knowledge of the history of the geo-political entity that has produced it. As a result, it becomes imperative to navigate the history of the Caribbean.

The Caribbean also referred to as the West Indies, has received a series of expanding definitions, and it is desirable to look at each in turn.

Describing the West Indies Safra et al (1998: 592) distinguish three major physiographic divisions:

  1. The Greater Antilles, comprising the islands of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and Puerto Rico;
  2. The Lesser Antilles, including the Virgin Islands, Anguila, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and Grenada;

REFERENCES

Cashmore, E. (1979) Rastaman: The Rastafarian Movement in England, London: George Allen & Unwin.

de Moor, J., and Wessling, H.L. (1989) Imperialism and War: Essays on Colonial Wars in Asia and Africa.

Du Bois ,W.E.B. (1972) The World and Africa , New York: International Publishers. Eagleton, T. (1983) Literary Theory: An Introduction, Great Britain: University of Mennesota Press.

Emenyonu, E. N. (ed) (1987) Black Culture and Black Consciousness in Literature, Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books (Nigeria) Ltd.

Fax, E. C. (1972) Garvey: The History of a Pioneer Black Nationalist, New York: Dodd, Mead and Company.

Garvey, A. J. (1967) Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey or Africa for the Africans, Two Volumes in One, Second Edition, London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd

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