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Samba Diallo is a Victim of Forces Beyond His Control in L'Aventure Ambigue

By satnitefever May 16, 2006 1129 Words
‘Samba Diallo is the victim of forces beyond his control'. Discuss this view of the protagonist of L'aventure ambiguë.

In L'aventure ambiguë, the colonization of Senegal by the French have led to different and often conflicting views from different characters, clashes of different cultures and practices of religion, as well as the education that was provided by the Diallobé and from the new foreign schools. These few examples are useful in explaining the term ‘victim', i.e. what he is a victim of, and later on how these forces may have influenced him over the course of the story. To simplify this essay, my essay will be focused mainly on ‘Westernisation' and 'Africanism', as I believe that all these factors come under those headings. Along the essay, I will analyze how may have been the ‘victim of forces beyond his control'.

Victim, according to the Oxford English Reference Dictionary is defined as "a person … harmed … in pursuit … in gratification of a passion." Seemingly, this is a term often associated with negativity, and in this essay we will also explore whether he has suffered negatively or benefited from his contrasting experiences in France and in the country of the Diallobé.

Westernisation may have been rather captivating for Samba Diallo, and one of the most significant reasons may be the use of literature in the European world and the African world. In chapter 6 of part II, Samba Diallo explains to Adèle how he was fascinated, but at the same time defeated the country of the Diallobé with the introduction of the European language. With this new tool, one was able to communicate through written words which in turn were able to form speeches. In contrast, the language of the Diallobé was characterised by the use of oral communication. Consequently, Africans felt that their language was lacking, and thus could not compete with this new language as it was more established and more useful. One was able to transmit advanced knowledge between one another, and because one was able to write, and in effect, print, a larger audience can easily be reached unlike the secluded language of the Diallobé. This is one example where Samba is a victim of forces beyond his control, the prospect of westernisation is tempting in that it opens up a new world for Samba and perhaps offering him with a ‘brighter' future, whereas the language of Diallobé was unlikely to bear any significance in the westernising world.

Education may also have been one of the forces which have influenced his choices. During Samba's childhood, he was taught in a strict Koranic school (Glowing Hearth in chapter 1 part 1) where the process of the education was learning Koranic verses off by heart and reciting it in the most accurate pronunciation of God, before any attempts were made at teaching the children the meaning of the verses. However, this is in a large contrast from the French system where it base its curricular on a secular perspective, and giving it a less ‘bias' edge. Additionally, there was the introduction of science in foreign schools, which meant obtaining knowledge through objective experimentation that was, at least in the western eyes, valid and reliable. Moreover, children were encouraged to be more liberal thinkers and analytical. Overall, western knowledge provides for more face validity, i.e. more logical reasoning and resultantly, Samba may possibly have questioned the existence of God. In the eyes of Africans, they feel incapable against this western invasion. They never had the experience nor the expertise to fight against the ‘mystical power' (i.e. knowledge, of "how to kill or cure, destruct or construct") which the white seemingly possess. The weakening of African power was seen towards the end of chapter 4 part I, where la Grande Royale spoke of the imminent death of the country of Diallobé, and one should accept the defeat to westernisation. Such a prominent figure such as la Grande Royale encouraging his people to accept westernisation is a big example of how Samba is a victim of forces beyond his control, as this implies that even his own leaders feel powerless in keeping its African Islamic traditions.

In western society, short-termism is a very dominant feature and this can be seen in various aspects of the society. The acquisition of knowledge through scientific knowledge demands immediate answers, and therefore it does not wait for the ‘truth'. Unlike the country of the Diallobé, they hope for the ‘truth' to appear at death. Another example is Greed, the personal drive to accumulate wealth therefore to satisfy oneself without much awareness of sustainability, is also prominent in western societies. However, in Diallobé, one works to sufficiently satisfy itself. In summary, western society would have been able to satisfy our intrinsic immediate demands and this may have been how Samba felt.

I have also question the appropriateness of the term ‘victim'. Westernisation has bought many great benefits to him, such as the acquisition of ‘unbiased' knowledge through science, or the ‘effective' communicational tool of the French language etc. At the same time it seemingly has destroyed Samba's identity. Using the hallucination from le Chevalier in chapter 6 of Part I to illustrate what westernisation had caused to the Africans. People of different colours and heritages were all bought together by a superficially attractive burning hearth representing the western world. However, this has resulted in the lost of traditions and all becoming one, representing the loss of identity. To some, the loss of identity is likely to cause catastrophic effects to the fabric of any community as people lose their sense of self and their defining place of this world, and this, in my opinion outweighs any advantages that westernisation can bring to a community. I believe that the use of victim is justified.

Throughout the story, it appears that Samba was constantly faced with conflict between different cultural values especially when he returned to his village. He found himself torn between his Western values and his Africanism heritage and this is shown by his unwillingness to pray in the mosque with le fou (chapter 8 part II), and his response to ‘l'ombre' (chapter 10) "Je n'ai pas la paix". Samba Diallo, to me, was a victim of forces beyond his control. The prosperity that is offered in a western world may seem appealing to him, but at the risk of losing identity with its own secluded –yet (ironically) westernising- community of the Diallobé. He was faced with a dilemma in an ever-westernising world that was impossible to prevent, even for other African nations. For Samba, neither westernisation nor Africanism was the solution. Instead, he seemed to have found the peace and serenity in the ‘shadow'.

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