The Irony of a Handshake of Friendship with the West: A Reflection on Oyono’s HouseBoy and The Oldman and the Medal

Dr Kalu, Kalu Obasi


The African proverb that ‘a set of white teeth does not indicate a pure heart’ aptly illustrates the relationship that exists between the Africa and the West. Colonization which is the image of friendship with the White man turns out to be a curse rather than a blessing. The Africans in their brotherhood temperament happily offers a handshake with the White man with the hope fostering a good relationship only to discover that the kind gesture is tampered with bad omen by his guest. The advancement of the White man was a happy thing to the Africans who assumed it to usher in good relationship between the West and the Africans. But it rather turned out to be a curse. Though belaboured in literary criticism, this paper attempts to look at the irony of the handshake as a symbolic image, exposing the White man’s wicked impressions as against the good intentions of the Africans. To do this Oyono’s Houseboy and The Old Man and the Medal are used for this study. The paper examines the degree of acceptance by the Africans and the humane acceptance of the White man and his eventual exploitative attitude toward the same people who happily accepted them. The White man’s use of violence to oppress, subjugate and assault his hosts. The paper explores the ridiculing nature of colonialism and providing the insight to view the psychology of both the White man and his African host. Allusion is also made of other texts that express the same themes. 

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English Linguistics Research
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