Thousand Seasons and Scribbling the Cat
Both Ayi Kwei Armah’s novel Two Thousand Seasons and Alexandra Fuller’s Scribbling the Cat: Travels With and African Soldier deal with the complex formulation of racial and ethnic identities in Africa as a result of the slave trade and colonization. While at first glance the two stories could not be more different, as Two Thousand Seasons is a fictional tale that literally spans the titular amount of time and is narrated by a collective of voices and Scribbling the Cat is a first-person account of the singular author/narrator’s travels with an African soldier, the seemingly disparate narratives actually offer two complementary perspectives on the same issues of identity, with Two Thousand Seasons purporting to represent the indigenous voices of Africa’s history, attempting to reestablish and reclaim their past, while Scribbling the Cat engages with the narrator’s complex Anglo-African identity in the midst of drought and war. By examining the relationship between both narratives as well some relevant secondary sources, one may begin to understand how the ever-present and inescapable trauma of colonization forces the individual to constantly and unceasingly question one’s already unstable identity, with the desire for some kind of self-identification free from the memory of violence and trauma ultimately only ensuring that those memories are never forgotten.
Scribbling the Cat begins with an excerpt from Alexander Kanengoni’s novel Echoing Silences which describes one character’s amazement at learning that “the history of his people did not start with the coming of the whites” (Fuller 4). Scribbling the Cat uses this quotation as a means of introducing war as a means of communication, something that will be common throughout the story, but the quotation works equally well to describe the goal of Two Thousand Season’s multifaceted narrator(s), the aim of whose “vocation” is “the clearing of destruction’s pale, thick-lying pus from eyes too long blinded to every possibility of the way” (Armah 248). Just as the section commander in Kanengoni’s novel narrates some of the history of Zimbabwe before “the coming of the whites,” so too do the narrators of Two Thousand Seasons seek to retell the history of Africa from an indigenous perspective, thus reifying their identity and basing it in something other than the trauma and schism of colonization.
The redemptive work of the narrators is noted by Khondlo Mtshali in his essay “The Journey of a Healing Community in Ayi Kwei Armah’s Two Thousand Seasons,” in which he agues that the narrative uses the framework of traditional African superstitions in order to present the image of “a healing community” traveling through “three interconnected dimensions of experience that are the realm of the godhead, the realm of the ancestors, and the realm of the living” (Mtshali 125). In short, the novel progresses from the peaceful realm of the godhead in the form of the “fictional society of Anoa that is named after its mythical and ancient priestess who prophesied its life purpose and journey,” travels through “the sedementing of the respective experiences [of slavery and colonization] in the realm of past experiences or ancestors,” and finally recounts “the lived experience of Anoa’s healing community” (Mtshali 125).
Mtshali’s essay offers a useful means for understanding certain textual details of the novel, and especially the narrators’ focus on possibility, because this “every possibility of the way” that is reduced and precluded b the violence of slavery and colonization may be regarded as Mtshali’s idealized godhead. Mtshali recalls Alfred North Whitehead’s argument “that all experiences presuppose the existence of unconditioned possibilities [called] forms of definiteness or eternal objects,” and furthermore “that forms of definiteness constitute an infinite set of possibilities” that may be called “a realm of possibilities” (Mtshali 126). Mtshali amends this argument by suggesting that “religious literature names this realm of possibilities the godhead,” and as such, the narration of Two Thousand Seasons may be seen as journey from this realm of possibility in the mythical past to the reduced, constrained, and ultimately truncated historical reality of Africa. However, while Mtshali’s essay allows one to have a greater appreciation for the novel’s structure and development, his ultimate conclusions regarding the extent of healing which occurs over the course of the novel is not supported by the narrators themselves. In order to see why, one must examine the particular use of the first-person plural in the novel as well as tragedy revealed by Mtshali’s own analysis.
As Leif Lorentzon notes, “Two Thousand Seasons is remarkable in several respects, but one of its most distinctive characteristics is its we-narrator,” not only because of the choice to include a pluralized narrator, but because the narrators are simultaneously outside the story and a character within it (Lorentzon 221). The narrators tell a thousand years of African history from some position after the fact, but also include themselves, such as when the narrators identify themselves as part of a group of freedom-fighters, stating that “there were twenty of us: eleven girls growing into women, nine boys growing into men” (Armah 148). While Lorentzon focuses mainly on the implications of the we-narrator as a character in the story, the true importance of the plural narrator is the fact that the narrators are simultaneously characters in the story and outside narrators. Thus, rather than consider the we-narrator as one of the twenty, as Lorentzon does, the reader is actually forced to acknowledge the narrators as all and none of them, or put another way, to acknowledge the narrators as all the narrated characters of Africa.
The implications of this may not be immediately apparent, so it is worthwhile to take a moment to explain. If the narrators are all of the Anoa, from mythic past to the present of the narration, this means that the narrators are always already experiencing the trauma of slavery alongside the “healing community” of the present. Put another way, rather than simply moving from the idealized realm of possibility that is the godhead, through the traumatic memories of the ancestors, and on to a hopeful, healing community of the living world, as is argued by Mtshali, the narrators have actually managed to return to the realm of infinite possibility. The tragedy, however, is that realm of infinite possibility must necessarily contain the possibility (and reality) of slavery and colonization, such that the “healing community” may never fully heal, but rather only succeed in condensing its collective experience into a singularity of memory and history, such that it simultaneously and eternally experiences the peace of the mythic godhead alongside the brutality of reality.
The condensation of the we-narrator forces the reader to acknowledge that the history under discussion is not linear, nor even cyclical, but rather always-already enacted. This is not to suggest that the overall argument of the novel is one of hopelessness, but rather to point out that the work of the narrators in Two Thousand Seasons is not to forget the trauma of slavery and colonization, or even to heal the wounds inflicted by them, but rather to remove the ideological and historical scars which trick the unknowing, like the character in Kanengoni’s novel, into believing that this trauma is the singular organizing event of their history. Instead, the narrators serve to reveal that this horrible reality is nonetheless only one of an infinite number of possibilities, constantly and eternally being rewritten and reread.
In stark contrast to the millennia-spanning and all-encompassing narrators of Two Thousand Seasons, the narration of Scribbling the Cat covers only a relatively brief historical period and only explicitly concerns itself with the stories of a couple of characters, namely, the narrator and K. Nonetheless, Scribbling the Cat deals with precisely the same multiplicity of identity and history as Two Thousand Seasons, this time focusing on what Antje Rauwerda calls “the problem of persistent whiteness in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique” revealed through “the tenuous hold white Africans have on their homeland” and the desire “to build a future that does not use the foundations of a violent, racist white past” (Rauwerda 51). Rauwerda argues that Fuller discusses these themes through her “extensive descriptions of houses that are makeshift, incomplete, and temporary” (Rauwerda 51).
Rauwerda cuts directly to the heart of the identity issues under discussion in Scribbling the Cat, because in the same way that the Anoa’s journey to the healing community really only serves to remember the pain of slavery and colonization, if at least within the larger history of their people, the narrator’s desire to find some kind of identity in returning to her birthplace forces her to acknowledge the violence of her own ethnic history and the ultimate impossibility of maintaining any kind of white African identity without acknowledging that violent past.
While Rauwerda focuses on the description of homes in Scribbling the Cat which represent the tenuousness of white identity in Africa, this instability of identity is even revealed in those homes which do not appear makeshift, incomplete, or temporary, as can be seen when the narrator and K. briefly look at the home K. had previously built with his “work-worn fingers.” It is “a large white building, sandblasted and whitewashed, with a copper roof that gleamed a warm apricot” (Fuller 237). The narrator goes on to describe the lush plants growing around the home before K. dismisses it entirely, saying “It’s just an elaborate fucking tomb for Luke now. That’s all it is.”
Following the line of Rauwerda’s successful analysis, one may consider K’s description of the building’s transformation from house to tomb as a commentary on the inability of one to construct an identity for oneself (or for a building) without first coming to terms with those “fatal cracks” in identity that result from a life born out of war and violence (Fuller 270). Thus, in Scribbling the Cat, the instability of identity as a result of colonization is represented not only in those homes which portray the passing attempts to construct an Anglo-African identity without relying on “a violent, racist white past,” but also in those homes which lose their meaning and dissolve into tombs. In contrast to the fragile, illusory white identity created by the narrator, K’s identity is strong and well-constructed, but it has devolved into an empty shell, ordained with the trappings of life and vitality but ultimately rendered empty by the inescapable trauma of war.
Though Ayi Kwei Armah’s novel Two Thousand Seasons and Alexandra Fuller’s Scribbling the Cat: Travels With and African Soldier are clearly different in terms of scope and narratorial voice, the different features of either story actually serve to complement each other by highlighting different aspects of identity as fractured and colored by the twin traumas of slavery and colonization throughout Africa’s history. Two Thousand Seasons attempts to construct an African identity that is not entirely oriented around the impact of white colonizers on the indigenous peoples, but in order to do so, it must willingly integrate that devastating impact into its own history. On the other side, Scribbling the Cat attempts to construct an Anglo-African identity without allowing that identity to be wholly subsumed by the actions of white colonizers or delegitimized by self-identification of the indigenous people.
In effect, the narrator of Scribbling the Cat seeks to be integrated into the infinite realm of possibility of Two Thousand Seasons but ultimately finds herself unable to, not because she is unable to construct an identity not based on the white racism of history, be precisely because she seems unwilling to admit that this history is part of her own realm of possibility. Thus, the narrator of Scribbling the Cat seems to suffer from those very scars of violence and oppression which the narrators of Two Thousand Seasons seek to erase with their retelling of African history. By trying so hard to avoid the foundation of white racism and violence, Fuller’s narrator is ultimately unable to overcome it, whereas the narrators of Two Thousand Seasons are able to successfully reduce the impact of that very same racism and violence precisely by integrating it into their own identity.
Armah, Ayi Kwei. Two Thousand Seasons. Per Ankh, the African Pub. Cooperative, 2000. Print.
Fuller, Alexandra. Scribbling the Cat: Travels with An African Soldier. New York, NY: Penguin
Press, 2004. Print.
Lorentzon, Leif. “Ayi Kwei Armah’s epic we-narrator.”Critique. 38.3 (1997): 221-235. Print.
Mtshali, Khondlo. “The Journey of a Healing Community in Ayi Kwei Armah’s Two Thousand
Seasons.” Research in African Literatures. 40.2 (2009): 125-140. Print.
Rauwerda, Antje M. “Exile Encampments: Whiteness in Alexandra Fuller’s Scribbling the Cat:
Travels with an African Soldier.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature. 44.2 (2009): 51.
Get Professional Assignment Help Cheaply
Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?
Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.
Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?
- Plagiarism free papers
- Timely delivery
- Any deadline
- Skilled, Experienced Native English Writers
- Subject-relevant academic writer
- Adherence to paper instructions
- Ability to tackle bulk assignments
- Reasonable prices
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Get superb grades consistently
Online Academic Help With Different Subjects
Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.
Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.
While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.
Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.
In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.
Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.
We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!
We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.
Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.
What discipline/subjects do you deal in?
We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.
Are your writers competent enough to handle my paper?
Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.
What if I don’t like the paper?
There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.
- When assigning your order, we match the paper’s discipline with the writer’s field/specialization. Since all our writers are graduates, we match the paper’s subject with the field the writer studied. For instance, if it’s a nursing paper, only a nursing graduate and writer will handle it. Furthermore, all our writers have academic writing experience and top-notch research skills.
- We have a quality assurance that reviews the paper before it gets to you. As such, we ensure that you get a paper that meets the required standard and will most definitely make the grade.
In the event that you don’t like your paper:
- The writer will revise the paper up to your pleasing. You have unlimited revisions. You simply need to highlight what specifically you don’t like about the paper, and the writer will make the amendments. The paper will be revised until you are satisfied. Revisions are free of charge
- We will have a different writer write the paper from scratch.
- Last resort, if the above does not work, we will refund your money.
Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?
Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.
What if the paper is plagiarized?
We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.
When will I get my paper?
You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.
Will anyone find out that I used your services?
We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.
How our Assignment Help Service Works
1. Place an order
You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.
2. Pay for the order
Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.
3. Track the progress
You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.
4. Download the paper
The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.
PLACE THIS ORDER OR A SIMILAR ORDER WITH US TODAY AND GET A PERFECT SCORE!!!