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Finding the “I” after Colonisation: Illusion, Incongruity, and Ipseity in Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie and Weep Not, Child by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
journal contributionposted on 2017-05-23, 00:12 authored by Kim Laffont
Countries, once colonised, can never return to be what they were; instead they must paint a new picture of themselves by taking bits and pieces, dots and dashes, from their mythical, regional and colonial origins and merging them into the image of what they will become. As one examines the past, it is as if one has stepped up to scrutinise a painting too closely: one sees the texture of the paint and the tiny details of the painter’s hand, but the illusion of a whole no longer holds and instead dissolves into a bizarre and random series of dabs and swirls. It becomes clear that what had once been perceived as a “reality” is, in fact, an illusion.
Salman Rushdie’s Midnight's Children and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o’s Weep Not, Child are two novels that tell the story of this decolonisation process through the eyes of young boys, so as to show the illusions and incongruities of life. Both novels are written in the form of the European Bildungsroman—a story of a young hero’s coming of age while his country is suffering.