Part 2 of "Establishing Literary Independence: Hybridity in Zimbabwean Literature"
Historically, aspects of continental Africa were considered pagan, dark, and in need of internal civilizing by an external authority. This became justification for the actions of the British colonizers of Rhodesia (presently Zimbabwe) who came to benefit the natives through the establishment and sharing of civility. One part of the imposition of British civilization in Rhodesia was the institutionalization of English. The imposition of a single, written language was to take the place of an oral tradition that was too easily lost (regarding historicity) and to promote universalism. Phillip Darby, author of The Fiction of Imperialism: Reading Between International Relations and Postcolonialism, mentions such theorists as Hugh Trevor Roper who believed that in Africa, before the intervention of outsiders, all was darkness. Thus, according to him, Africa had no history: "Africans were a people without significant intellectual or cultural attainment." Darby also mentions that the same theorists believed African to be at the bottom of the "evolutionary ladder," which belief justified colonialist evaluations on African consciousness. It was the same, or a similar, idea that led to the colonization of Rhodesia, and to the implementation of English as the official language.
In the colonization of Rhodesia, the native people were prevailed upon to internalize the doctrines of the British. The result of this internalization was the redefining of roles within Rhodesia. The colonizers, initially considered as the strangers or the Other -- imposing forces foreign to the native society -- came to be seen as Master, while the native began to see himself as Other. This repositioning resulted in an English cultural identity inseparable from othering the native as its object. Thus, English was introduced as the official language of Rhodesia.
Brahms, Flemming. "Entering Our Own Ignorance: Subject-Object Relations in Commonwealth Literature." in The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. ed. Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. New York: Routledge, 1995. pp.66-70.
Darby, Phillip. The Fiction of Imperialism: Reading Between International Relations and Postcolonialism. Washington: Cassell, 1998.
Larson, Charles. "Heroic Ethnocentrism: The Idea of Universality in Literature." in The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. ed. Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. New York: Routledge, 1995. pp.62-65.
Parry, Benita. "Problems in Current Theories of Colonial Discourse." in The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. pp.36-44.
Said, Edward W. "Orientalism." in The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. pp.87-91.
Sharpe, Jenny. "Figures of Colonial Resistance." in The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. pp.99-103.