Problems of Anti-Colonialism

BR Ambedkar

“The Depressed Classes welcomed the British as their deliverers from age long tyranny and oppression by the orthodox Hindus.”

Round Table Conference (1930).


Albert Memmi

“Unfortunately, in most cases, the long-anticipated period of freedom, won at the cost of terrible suffering, brought with it poverty and corruption, violence, and sometimes chaos…Although it wasn’t its primary purpose, Western colonization did serve as the opportunity for some technical, political, and even cultural advances, as can happen when civilizations come into contact with one another.”

Decolonization and the Decolonized (2004)

Martin Dibobe

“The people cling to Germany with all their energy and firm conviction. We reaffirm to the government all of our dedication as well as our unbreakable, firm loyalty. With this letter, we assure the government that we want to remain German.”

Petition of Cameroonians to Reich Colonial Minister Bell (1919)

Orhan Pamuk

“In his brilliant Orientalism, Edward Said makes much of the opening scene in the Cairo hospital [in Flaubert in Egypt] but fails to mention the Istanbul brothel where the drama ends; had he done so, he might have prevented many Istanbul readers from using his work to justify nationalist sentiment or to imply that, if it weren’t for the West, the East would be a wonderful place.”

Istanbul: Memories and the City (2003)

Chinua Achebe

“I am not one of those who would say that Africa has gained nothing at all during the colonial period. I mean, this is ridiculous – we have gained a lot. But unfortunately when two cultures meet . . . [w]hat happens is that some of the worst elements of the old are retained and some of the worst of the new are added, and so on . . . . But again I see this as the way life is. Every society has to grow up, every society has to learns its own lesson.”

Interview (1967)

Melissa Chen

“The seeds of liberty were sown with the sealing of the Magna Carta eight centuries ago, and brought to Hong Kong via the Treaty of Nanjing. For 156 years, Hong Kong was a beneficiary, marinating in its legacy. Long after the HMS Britannia sailed out of the harbor with Governor Chris Patten on board at midnight on June 30, 1997, the people of Hong Kong continue to embody a belief that that legacy is worth fighting for. Will we stand with them?”

"Why Postcolonial Theory is Not Helping Hong Kong" (2019)

Sir Alan Burns

“I can assure you that no one exploits the African so effectively as members of his own race, and no one has better protected the African from tyranny than the so-called imperialists who govern the colonies· I am proud that I have been one of them.”

"Colour Prejudice in a Changing World" (1953)

V.S. Naipaul

“France ought to have incorporated Africa. Instead, France yielded to the ‘idol’ of decolonization and the pressures of mercantile capitalism and converted the low cultures of black Africa into a poussière of petty dictatorships.”

"Jacques Soustelle and the Decline of the West" (1967)

Alan Paton

“Can one take such a journey today? Are there such hotels today? I cannot speak with authority, but I would doubt it. The roads and hotels and public services of the Congo were, if one may call them so, gifts from Belgium. Today Zaire lives under a dictator, and has, like most African countries, a crippling foreign debt. Colonial rule brought to this vast country its usual gifts of curses and blessings. The undoing of colonial rule brought its further gifts of curses and blessings. Which were worse, the curses of the doing or those of the undoing? Which were better, the blessings of the doing or of the undoing? These are not questions which permit rational inquiry. The passions and emotions that are aroused by their very asking make rational inquiry impossible. I can only conclude that Dorrie and I and our sons and daughters-in-law were given the privilege of making one of the great journeys of the world, at a time when it was possible to make it.”

Journey Continued (1988)

Dr. Robert Koch, the German
Nobel laureate, whose work
led to the discovery of a cure
for sleeping sickness, on the
shores of Lake Victoria, 1906.