Houseboy: Novel Essay

974 words 4 pages
Colonizers rape societies. [Rape, as the ultimate form of violence and abuse of power, accurately describes colonialism.] Colonized peoples suffered unspeakable atrocities in the hands of European powers. One of the many crimes perpetrated was the loss of identity for many nations and cultures. This was a systematic manipulation to divide and conquer people by assimilation and manipulation. Ferdinand Oyono's Houseboy, told in the form of young Toundi's diary in the time of French colonization of Cameroon, explores this mis-identity within the cruel system of colonization. Although being a coming-of-age novel, Oyono sharply criticizes the ironies of colonial societies through the relationship between the oppressor and oppressed. Houseboy …show more content…

Oyono through the main character, Toundi, is able to educate the oppressed of the mistake to believe that they are equal to the Frenchman and likewise is able to let the colonizing forces know what is being perpetrated under their name. Toundi also provides a brief summary of his life and history at the beginning revealing more than informative observations for the reader. He states: “My name is Toundi Ondoua. I am the son of Toundi and of Zama. When the Father baptized me he gave me the name of Joseph. I am Maka by my mother and Ndjem by my father. My ancestors were cannibals. Since the white men came we have learnt other men must not be looked upon as animals.” (9) The passage gives insight into Toundi’s dual identity at work. He tells us his Christian name, Joseph quickly, but highlights with much pride about his parentage and ethnic identity. The next sentence clearly shows Toundi’s influence by the French to degrade his cultural history to something animalistic by noting after his pride that they are known to eat each other. The tone of the sentence has no real conviction from the mouth of Toudi which allows the observant reader to question the intention of this statement. Toundi’s innocence allows for the comment to come across as a passive statement but Oyono’s intent is to draw the reader to the “lie to this brief European summary of African society prior to the Europeans”. He