River Between Essay

Submitted By sgrice
Words: 1158
Pages: 5

Sheryll Grice
Hist. 125
Final Essay

The nineteenth century brought about the differences between developed and underdeveloped countries. Western nations like Britain and the US that were known to be the developed ones influenced non- western nations like Egypt, Japan and Kenya. In these regions, the infiltration of westernization, colonialism, and imperialism uprooted positive and/or negative responses within the people native to the lands. According to Egypt’s Hassan Al-Bana, The River Between’s (fictional Kenya) Waiyaki and Japan’s Fukuzawa Yukichi, the betterment of the lives of the people from the above-mentioned regions depended on their responses to the influences from the west. During the 1900s, Islamic countries were being penetrated by western influences. “Social critics” like Hassan Al-Bana, displayed immense nationalism for his nation in protest against the ideas brought upon his country by places like Britain. In the attempt to westernize nations like Egypt, Europeans worked to ensure that the people would succumb to their ideas by all means necessary. These influxes of western ideas included, but were not limited to “importing half-naked women into the region, liquors, theaters, dance halls, newspapers, novels, and their silly games” (Al-Bana, 897). The British not only incorporated western commodities such as clothes and entertainment, they also went beyond and contaminated the thoughts and ideas of the people. By doing so, the Egyptians lost all sense of their Islamic religion and culture. Al-Bana constitutes this when he says “the influence of the west over nations like Egypt and Turkey has reached serious proportions, penetrating even the minds and the feelings, apart from outward forms and conventions” (Al-Bana, 898). He responded to the influence of the British with a strong nationalist movement. As a critic of such western changes, Al-Bana believed that the only logical way to eradicate foreign influences was to return the people of Egypt back to their Islamic Ideology. “To that effect, he launched the Society of Muslim Brothers, an organization in which members met in cells (families) to bring about social, cultural, and political change” (Al-Bana, 896). The ideas of colonialism also struck people of Kenya, even years before modern day civilization. In Ngugi’s fictional novel The River Between, the people of the Gikuyu society experienced a split in their land as a result of white settlement. The white settlers intruded the land little by little. In doing so, the Siriana Missionary Center was established as “a place with hospitals and a flourishing school taking boys and girls from all over the country, but the missionaries had not yet penetrated the hills, though they sent a number of disciples to work there” (Ngugi, 28). However, as time elapsed, the white settlers inevitably enmeshed their western ways into the lives of the Gikuyu people. They brought about their ideas of a new faith called Christianity, by which the native people were expected to follow. It “contaminated the hills and angered Murungu” (Ngugi, 58). Due to the disapproval of the white man’s faith by a majority of the Gikuyu society, the missionaries punished the people by stripping them of the most important aspect of settler colonialism, education. Although many of the people stuck to their tribal ways by part taking in rituals like circumcision, many of them wanted to learn from the schools established by the missionaries. However, the white missionaries made it almost impossible. As Ngugi explained in the novel “the children of those who defiled the laws of the church and continued with their tribal customs would have to leave Siriana…the child would have to renounce circumcision” (Ngugi, 60). Knowing how much his people wanted this one thing from the white man and being equipped to give it to them, Waiyaki responded to the white man’s colonialism with an educational reform of his own. Growing up and