To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems; we are continuing to work to improve these archived versions. Batouala is the leader or mokoundji of a small tribe of Bandas who live and die under an oppressive French colonial rule about the time of the Great War; they are resigned to the new lifestyle that clashes so stridently with the one that had done so well for their ancestors. For them, the war simply means that there is a reduced market for rubber, so there is less work on the plantations or making roads for the Bandas to do. So, why change? The French have enslaved us.
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Shelves: place , colonialism-imperialism-war Free ebook version available at Open Library. Batouala could really benefit from an academic introduction to situate it within the time period and explain who the author was and how his writing challenged the contemporary colonial imagination of the lives of African peoples. Nowadays there is a fantastic amount of gorgeous, critical, intricate fiction by African authors from across the continent, so the faults of this novel ring louder than the criticism and challenge it presented at the time.
This challenge is presented straight forward enough however in the gem of a preface by an author overwhelmed and disgusted by the genocidal horrors of the French rubber-plantation-enslavement colonial system. It was covered with plantations of every kind and teemed with goats and poultry. Seven years have been enough to work complete ruin. Villages have grown fewer and farther between, the plantations have disappeared, the goats and poultry have been exterminated. As for the natives, they were broken down by incessant toil, for which they were not paid, and were robbed of even the time to sow their crops.
They saw disease come and take up its abode with them, saw famine stalk their land, saw their numbers grow less and less. If we knew of what vileness the great colonial life is composed, of what daily vileness, we should talk of it less, we should not talk of it at all.
It degrades a man bit by bit. These and other ignoble excesses reduce those who indulge in them to the last degree of flaccidity. A condition so abject must be a matter of prune concern to those who are charged with representing France, the men who assume responsibility for the evils from which certain parts of the Negro country are at present suffering.
Intellectual anemia joining hands with moral debility, they have deceived their country and felt no remorse. You will attack the slave-drivers. Fighting them will be harder than tilting at windmills. Your task is a splendid one. Put your shoulders to the wheel then. Waste no time! It is the will of France. Hey anthropologists and poly-sci students who are all flocking to study CAR now given its crisis hot-spot position on the world stage: maybe one of you could do this little book some justice?