Changing Rulers: the (Non) Experience of the Colonized

The opening chapter of The Slave Girl, most of which concerns the experiences of a young girl sold by her brother, places the novel in what might appear an almost irrelevant colonial context.

Okwuekwu did not have much sympathy for all those pale-skinned people; to him there was no difference between any of them. In fact the people of Ibuza -- at a time when it was glorious to be an Englishman, when the reign of the great Queen Victoria's son was coming to its close, when the red of the British Empire covered almost half the map of the world, when colonization was at its height, and Nigeria was being taken over by Great Britain -- did not know that they were not still being ruled by the Portuguese. The people of Ibuza did not realize that their country, to the last village, was being amalgamated and partitioned by the British. They knew nothing of what was happening; they did not know that there were other ways of robbing people of their birthright than by war. The African of those days was very trusting. [Ch 1, 7]

Why does Emecheta let us know that most of the people in Obejeta's community have no idea which colonial power supposedly rules their community? What does this point suggest about the reality of colonial power, and is the novelist merely make a kind of ritual recognition of colonialism, or does it have a more central role in her portait of women's lives? Finally, how does her portrayal of Nigeria's colonial period differ from that of Soyinka in Aké?

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