Alienation and the individuation experience: a study of select characters from the novels of Achebe, Oyono and Thiong'o

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Mumba, Norah Mbalose
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This study explores psychological, social and physical reaction by Africans to the colonial experience through literary characters created by three of Africa's leading writers. These are Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart), Ferdinand Oyono (Houseboy and The Old Man and the Medal) and Ngugi wa Thiong'o (The River Between). It considers how characters like Okonkwo, Toundi, Meka, Muthoni and others individually suffered alterations to the normal equilibrium of their individual lives upon being faced with the new circumstances prescribed upon them by colonisation. They all needed to develop some sort of coping mechanism in attempting to come to terms with their altered environment and challenged identity. The central thrust of the study is the concept of individuation as developed by Carl Gustav Jung in his Analytical Psychology. The process of individuation is a quest towards achieving psychic wholeness through psychological development. It entails emotional growth, discovery of meaning in life and occasionally enlightenment or victory over inner obstacles. The individuated person is one who has undergone a process of recovering the meaning of his life, after having lost it. The loss of meaning in life is occasioned by a feeling of alienation such as that brought on by colonisation upon the native populations. Such loss is usually accompanied by loss of one's religious belief. Colonialism introduced Christianity and forced a re-orientation of subjugated peoples from their original religious systems to embracing the white man's religion. This abrupt and forced departure from their own belief systems was not without cost. Not only were there major ramifications in psychological terms but also the colonisers set out to use the new religion as a tool for disempowering the natives. The result was a mixture of psychological as well as physical violence inflicted by the whites upon the subjugated black people. Analytical Psychology is employed to try to understand the workings of the human mind from the perspective of the Victim' as well as to find the source in the human psyche of such orchestrated victimisation of one set of people by another. Jungian psychology attempts to identify the workings of the human psyche that may predispose one set of people to behave in a particular manner, to share particular mind DNA, and how an individual may inherit from the collective such a DNA pattern.
Alienation (Social psychology) in literature , Individuation (Psychology) in literature , Analytical psychology. , Jungian psychology.