Journal article Open Access

Trauma of Colonial/Postcolonial Entanglement: Something Torn and New in Weep Not, Child

Mridha, Shibaji

This paper explores the trauma inflicted by the colonial settlement on the
everyday, innocent colonized people as depicted in Weep Not, Child, tracing
the horrifying consequences it triggers in the lives of victims both on a personal
and allegorical level. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o soulfully recreates the turbulent
time of social and political upheaval of colonized Kenya in the 1950s.
This politically charged novel, published after two years of Kenya’s independence
in 1964, foregrounds the traumatic journey of a young boy, Njoroge,
against the backdrop of the Mau Mau revolution that was organized against
the white colonial government. His choice of surrendering to death is his
delayed response to the catastrophic events, which eventually exposes the
heart of darkness of the colonial entanglement. In this regard, maintaining
the recent postcolonial tendency of decolonizing the trauma theory, I argue
that Njoroge’s personal trauma echoes the collective trauma of Kenya in the
sense that they both suffer from paranoia and violence in a critical time when
they were in a quest for an identity. In addition, in connection with another
monumental work Something Torn and New: Towards an African Renaissance
by Ngugi, I intend to discuss the significance of the agency of collective
trauma in a postcolonial context in an attempt to both historicize and
empower trauma. Finally, this paper goes on to argue how the collective trauma
of colonial/postcolonial experience can be translated into a constructive
force in an act of re-membering and revisiting the traumatic past.

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