This essay investigates the literature on postcolonial literature. Particularly, it describes trauma as an important aspect worth considering in any study to do with post colonial literature. Further, the essay puts into consideration ways in which the trauma theory may shape way the current generation of students study the literature of post colonial era. Essentially, it encompasses a detailed analysis of the novels “A Distant Shore” by Caryl Philips and “She’s Gone” by Kwame Dawes as well as makes a reference to historical contexts and theoretical materials that have been encountered in this module. According to the essay, a lot of research has been carried out that focus on the manner in which post colonial literature reveals the amount of suffering engendered on humanity through colonial oppression. Furthermore, it explores the ethical as well as the political stakes that are involved in memory of post colonial works with particular focus on the issues to do with the Nazi genocide, slavery and slave trade, colonization and other acts of genocide (Audie, 1999).
Trauma as used in this context is a kind of damage that occurs to human psyche as a result of experiencing traumatic events. In “Distant Shore”, Caryl narrates a story of two persons who are living a life punctuated with social withdrawal and loneliness. According to the story, Solomon is a refugee fleeing war in Africa while Dorothy is a former teacher slowly coming to terms with the effects of retirement. The two form a short lived companionship that tragically ends when Solomon is killed by racist gangs. The two stories perfectly exemplify how real trauma can trigger a feeling of displacement, loneliness and being unfairly targeted. This has been the story behind the painful unraveling of the incidences behind the Nazi genocide, the apartheid in South Africa, racial segregation in United States and generally the actions of colonial masters in all the countries of the world that tasted colonization (Phillips, 2007).
The Nazi Genocide
The literature touching on the Nazi genocide that witnessed the death of over ten million people both Jews and non Jews has continued to bring bitter memories to the Jewish people and by extension the global community thereby causing them wanton trauma. According to the post colonial literature, every arm of the bureaucratic government of the Nazi Germans headed by Adolf Hitler was involved in one way or the other in the planning and execution of the logistics that culminated in the acts of genocide. However, public opinion remains divided on just how much the German civilian population was aware of the conspiracy to eliminate the Jewish population. As a matter of fact, most historians have made a claim to the fact that the civilians were completely in the dark concerning the commission of these atrocities especially the events at the extermination camps way out of Germany (Linda, 2003). Nonetheless, the sequential narration of these historical events certainly leaves the world more wordless and thoughtless on just what became of Hitler and his men. Indeed, the Jewish population could certainly be living a traumatized life today not only because of the bitter memories, but also due to the fact that the reasons that led to the acts of genocide exist to this age. For instance, the religious prejudice against the Jews has not ceased to exist. As such, individual members of the Jewish community continue to live in the fear of being the selective targets just like Solomon became a prey to the racist gangs after escaping another death in his war-torn country (Sechaba, 1992).
The literature detailing the idea that the victims of the holocaust were themselves not aware of their fate as they were deported to the concentration camps would cause quite a worry to a Jews. This is certainly so considering that even today they can never really know what someone somewhere could be planning to execute against their population. This is true despite the fact that they never experienced these petrifying moments nor witnessed them. Honestly, merely reading such stories would take the reader into a completely new world that Dorothy in “A Distant Shore” found herself in. The feeling that life could be too unfair as to completely withdraw you from the usual colleagues and place you in a field of thoughtfulness could be quite traumatizing. Further, the accounts of the legislative attempts that were made to eliminate the Jewish population received almost a unanimous support from the institutions that should protect the human rights of every citizen. This typically would give an impression that certain elements of these people could still be in our governments and that it is only a matter of time before they strike again. Particularly, the enactment of the Nuremberg Laws by the Nazi German government several years before the commencement of the World War II that led to the establishment of the concentration camps would perfectly exemplify the extent of inhuman character that can be harbored by our governments. Although there are legal constraints to the commission of crimes against humanity especially with the United Nation’s establishment of the International Criminal Court in Hague, Holland, the fear of being a victim still lingers large among the general population. The real fear and trauma results from the naked truth that even the people who find themselves in the International Criminal Court only do so after they have committed crimes against humanity on innocent civilians. Certainly, those innocent civilians could be anyone of the Jewish blood. This is the kind of trauma that Solomon experienced when people he had thought would protect him turned into persecutors and eventually killed him (Phillips, 2003).
Apartheid in South Africa
A look at the postcolonial history of apartheid in South Africa may easily cause a sense of bitterness between the black and the white populations in South Africa. According to literature, apartheid was a system that entrenched racial segregation into the society of South Africa. This systematic policy was enforced by the governments of the National Party between the years 1948 and 1994. Under this system, the human rights of the black population who happened to be the majority were severely curtailed. This system culminated in the eventual forceful removal of non whites from certain places as well as the abolishing of their political representation at all the elective levels (Richard & Urdang, 1982).This typically marks the kind of life that Kofi in “She’s Gone” found himself in when the Jamaican politics of race and class became overwhelming. In fact, his girlfriend Keisha opts to return to America because the trauma of social exclusion becomes too much. Indeed, such are the bitter memories that the study of post colonial literature would evoke among the non white population in South Africa especially with regards to the Sharpeville Massacre. As such, there are all the possibilities that these people would seek revenge against the white population. In fact, Nelson Mandela is worldly accredited with his ability to restrain such feelings of bitterness among the black population of South Africans when he finally took over the reins of power (Dawes, 2007).