He also uses the word ‘voodoo’ and ‘witchcraft’ to describe the local religion. It is no coincidence that they are two rivals on ether side of a religion. Tata Ndu seems to represent Africa and Mr. Price seems to represent the West. I think by taking these two figureheads and separating them by race and religion Kingsolver is making a point about the cash of religion in a colonial Africa. The political state at the time corresponds with the story as Africa is rejecting Belgium as its ruler as Tata Ndu is rejecting Christianity as its religion.
In both circumstances the key word is imposition as the West have intruded on Africa and forced a culture on them. The Reverend is obviously looks down on their beliefs and practises, which connects with the point of pompousness that the reverend seems to possess. It seems that he prides himself with his religion and strong beliefs so when Anatole questions it: ‘Our chief, Tata Ndu, is concerned about the moral decline of this village… He worries that the people who go to church are neglecting their duties’ -He is enraged and can’t understand why the locals don’t accept Christianity as he does.
I think that from the very beginning Mr. Price is blinded by his religion. His faith is so strong that it seems to have moulded his decisions and actions and magnified his stubbornness and arrogance. In this case instead of what in theory should have ‘shown him he light’ has in actual fact twisted his perspective on reality and perverted his views of what is morally acceptable. His religion is so important to him that he jeopardises his own life and gambles the safety of his family just to spread the word of Christ in a small African village.
As soon as the Reverend sets foot in the village he is immediately faced with the afflicting views and diverse culture of Africa. The nakedness episode is chronologically Reverend Prices first attempt to impose the Christian laws on the locals. Not surprisingly, because of his character, he reacts very strongly and quickly to the issue of ‘nakedness’ among the Kilangan women. ‘ “For nakedness,” Father repeated, “is the darkness of the soul! ” All the eyes in the room followed fathers accusing glare. ‘ This incident just illuminates Reverend Price’s arrogance of his own culture and ignorance of theirs.
He is built in with such a pretentious attitude towards his own beliefs that he fails to notice the fact that these people have lived that way for years because that is their culture. Throughout the book Price is desperately trying to gain the village’s faith in Christianity. However any effort he makes to convert the locals, through bible readings or improvised baptisms, seems to be in vain because of the language barrier and because of the inconvenience of Christianity in comparison to their native religion. Inconvenience is a key point in the rejection of Christianity in Kilanga.
‘The riverbank, though attractive from a distance, is not so lovely when you gat down there… the River Kwilu is not the River Jordan chilly and wide but lazy, warm and infested with crocodiles’ This is a quote from Orleanna Price commenting on Kilanga’s rejection of Reverend Price’s baptism. It seems that the reverend had dreamed of dunking children into cold water while uttering the words of Jesus Christ but in reality the environment of Africa simply doesn’t allow for the Christian idealist. This raises another issue about the way Christianity is portrayed through out the story. It seems that the self-important, pretentious, arrogant Mr.
Price is a symbol for the West’s arrogance and pretentiousness in the imposition of religion on the unsuspecting native lands. ‘There are Christians and then there are Christians’ This is a quote from Brother Foweles, another Christian missionary in Africa, in explanation from some awful decisions that Reverend Price made. I think that Brother Foweles kind, warm hearted and generous character was dropped into the story to save Christianity from being totally blamed because I think that Kingsolver didn’t want Christianity as a religion to be held totally responsible for the imposition of the western culture.
This is taking into account that it wasn’t just the religion that was being forced onto Africa but a totally different way of life, a totally different culture. There came a reckoning, a moment of truth in which the villagers voted for Jesus Christ or against him. ‘The collapse of things started in October, with the vote in the Church, we should have known to bow our heads and leave the Congo right there and then. ‘ This ‘vote’ is maybe the most important Reverend Price vs. Tata Ndu, Christianity vs. ‘voodoo’ face off that implies the Western culture vs.
African culture. It is an example of Tata Ndu and Reverend Price in combat but it also highlights the discussed point of the inconvenience of Christianity in Africa. ‘We will be making a vote for Jesus Christ in the office of personal God of Kilanga village… Jesus Christ a white man, so he will understand the law of la majorite, Tata Price. ‘ This vote is relatively humorous to the reader because Tata Ndu is using the western idea of democracy against ‘Mr. Western himself’-Reverend Price- which is highly ironic.
Jesus Christ lost, eleven to fifty six because most of the locals voted for there own religion as a matter of practicality. It is this practicality that is Reverend Price’s downfall. As the ‘Kwilu River’ quote highlights- in theory the world joining to become Christian is beautiful but in practice it just doesn’t work. By investigating the efforts of Nathan Price to impose his religion on the small village of Kilanga we notice that Nathan Price is a representation of the whole of the western civilisation and the small town of Kilanga is a representation of Africa as a whole.
By using these examples as metaphors I can come to some sort of a conclusion about Barbara Kingsolvers novel as an example of post-colonial literature. I think that behind the story of a family’s struggle to be accepted in a foreign country lies a guilt that her society once grew prosperous from exploiting others. I think that by using this story as a front she is subtly expressing her beliefs about the effects that colonialism has had on the third world. She enables the reader to delve into the world of a postcolonial Africa and discover the dark, dark roots.