Essay Transculturation

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Transculturation

A familiar lesson in elementary history might be that a conquered people will generally acculturate into the dominant culture of their conquerors. However, the process of how these two cultures interact is often not that simple. For example, the term transculturation was coined in the 1940s by sociologist Fernando Oritz to describe the process by which a conquered people choose and select what aspects of the dominant culture they will assume (Pratt 589). Unlike acculturation, transculturation recognizes the power of the subordinate culture to create its own version of the dominant culture. In an essay entitled, "The Arts of the Contact Zone," author Mary Louise Pratt argues that transculturation does not have to be
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Perhaps the most obvious sign is the narrator's adoption of the dominant English language to write this poem. As a matter of fact, this aspect of the English culture has so become a part of the narrator that he refers to the language as, "the English tongue [he] loves" (30). Another sign of transculturation is the narrator’s adoption of derisive European names for uncivilized peoples to describe the Kikuyu. For example, the narrator likens the Kikuyu “to savages” (10) and to a “gorilla” (25). In addition the narrator also borrows the expression, “a waste of our compassion” (24) from the phrase he characterizes to be British in line six. In the last stanza the narrator shows another sign of transculturation by “[cursing]/ the drunken officer of British rule” (28-29). These subtle rejections and adaptations of British imperialism, all signs of transculturation, can be found throughout the poem.

The personal struggle characteristic of this transculturation finally emerges in the last stanza of Walcott's poem:

Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?

I who have cursed

The drunken officer of British rule, how choose

Between this Africa and the English tongue I love? (26-29).

From this it is clear that the narrator is having difficulty choosing between the two cultures in his personal struggle with transculturation. In an essay entitled "Conflicting Loyalties in 'A Far Cry from Africa,'" the author, Heather Bradley contends, "this

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