Though a lot of people have written Utopianism and characterization,
but this research work is to assess Utopianism in Aminata Sowfall’s The
Beggars Strike and Sembene Ousmane’s Xala through the use of
Hegel’s in the phenomenology of spirit maintains that as a
warning against all forms of Utopianism, similar Observations have been
made about the Russian revolution, but it would be more true to say
that utopianism is an element of every progressive social change and
Utopianism is a disposition to embrace the vision of an
alternative society from which present social evils will be eradicated
and in which there is a complete human fulfillment. In Thomas more’s
book (1516), He described the Island as one whose social, economic and
political arrangement are marked by high degree of communism,
undoubtedly inspired by more’s own religious (catholic) convictions and
his monastic ideas.
LITERATURE AND THE CONCEPT OF UTOPIA
The relationship between literature and utopia as a
concept is seen as the renaissance gave a renewed impetus to utopian
thought and authors such as ‘Campanella in the city of the sun (1602)
and Bacon in New Atlantis (1627) began to infect a new spirit of
modernity into political theory by describing societies transformed by
the application of Knowledge and economic-technological developments.
The utopian impulse found its way into movements of
social protest, revolutionary sects and parties and unto the new
all-embracing political categories of the age of the industrial and
Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Discourse on the origin of
inequality among men and the social contract (1762) provided the
principles of reasons on which the constitution could be founded. The
terror which was the outcome of such an utopian project has been taken
by many thinkers. H.G wells also in A modern utopia (1905) states that
“A modern Utopia not only presents the virtues of socialism but is a
reflection on the tradition of utopian socialism”.
Thomas more in his utopia (1515) states that in utopia,
where everyman has a right to everything, they all know if care is taken
to keep the public stores full, no man can want anything for among
them, there is no unequal distribution so that no man is poor. None in
necessity and though no man has anything, yet they are all rich, for
what can make a man so rich as to lead a serene and cheerful life free
Some African writers have also employed the concept of
utopianism or utopia seen from the perspectives of the African writers.
Among these African writers include, Aminata Sowfall and Sembene Ousmane
using their two texts The Beggar’s Strike and Xala.
Characterization is the process of conveying information
about character in any narrative or dramatic work of art or everyday
conversation. Characters may be presented by means of description
through their actions, speech or thoughts. In any performance, an actor
has less time to characterize and so can risk the characters coming
across as underdeveloped.
The great realists of dramaturgy have relied heavily on
implicit characterizations which occupy the main body of their character
driven plays. Examples of these playwrights are Henrik Ibsen, August
Strindberg and Auton Chekhov.
A well developed character is one that has been thoroughly
characterized with traits shown in the narrative. A well developed
character acts according to past instances provided by its visible
traits unless more information about the character is provided. The
degree of success in direct characterization in order to swiftly get to
the action varies from play to play and often according to the use of
the character is put to.
TWENTIETH CENTURY COMMUNES.
The Great Depression (1930-1939) put millions of workers on to the
scrap heap. Many became itinerant bums, others turned to petty crime,
but many took the opportunity to build an alternative. In Australia and
other countries where land was available, hundreds of communes were set
up, based on communist ideals and a substance Economy.
During the 1960s and 70s, Hippy communes (international
communities) were set up in many parts of the world. The Majority of
these were not serious social experiments, and most feel victim to
personality clashes or exaggerated dependence on one individual but some
were successful and survive in good health to this day. The younger
generations, educated in the ‘new social movements” have been brought up
with sophisticated techniques for conflict resolution and consensus
decision-making and work well.
Most international communities in existence today are
based on varieties of political-economy, varying from little more than
gated villages to LETS (Local employment trading schemes) barter systems
to warker co-operatives like mondragon. The principal difference
between these projects and communism is that they suppose an
“Opting-out” from the problems of modern society rather than any attempt
to challenge the power of multi-national capitalism.
EARLY UTOPIAN IMAGININGS
Plato (428-347 BCE) wrote The Republic in 360 BCE, an idealization of
a slave society with a rigid class system, divided between
philosophers, warriors and commoners. Justice and social stability were
ensured because everyone was assigned to a station in life appropriate
to their interests and virtues. The structure of the republic was an
image of Plato’s conception of the structure of the human being reasons,
spirit and desire.
Thomas More wrote Utopia in 1515, looking forward to a
world of individual freedom and equality governed by Reason, at a time
when such a vision was almost inconceivable with the reformation in
Germany and numerous independent republics enjoying freedom in northern
Italy, modern, egalitarian ideas were spreading and a number of utopian
ideas were published in the sixteenth century.
SOCIALIST UTOPIAN EXPEIMENTS
Robert Owen (1771-1851) set about putting Utopian Ideas into practice
by building a model township called New Lanark based on his own mills.
Owen persuaded a group on the way o America to abandon their journey and
come to work in his mill instead. The environs, the wages and the
conditions and the education provided for the children was more than a
century ahead at his time.
Robert Owen’s New Harmony founded in the U.S in 1825 was a
co-operative rather than communist society, sponsored the first
kindergarten, the first trade school, the first free library and the
first community-supported public school in the U.S Engels described
Harmony Hall in the chartist papers in 1844.
There were other such settlements in the 1890’s inspired
by Lawrence Gronlund’s The co-operative commonwealth (1884) and
Bellamy’s Looking backward but with rapid expansion of the second
international in late 1880’s utopianism gave way to political,
Dystopia is the opposite of utopia (as in dysfunction).
Dystopian visions are used to issue warnings about dangers within the
society or to demonstrate the absurdity of the dominant ideology of the
day by following the idea through to its “logical conclusion”.
H.C walls’ Time machine (1895) warned of the dangers of growing
inequality and demonstrated the dangers of class society by projecting
class divisions forward to their limit. Dystopian Novels appeared
throughout the twentieth century. Among these are The iron Hell (1907)
by Jack London, My (1924) and we 91925) by tergeny Zamyatin, Brave New
World (1932) by Aldous Huxley and Nineteen Eighty-four (1949) by George
Orwell. The concept of dystopia is a frequent theme for movies such as
matrix, mad max etc.
Dystopia is an effective ideological weapon, while the
post modern distrust of progress makes utopias unconvincing to people in
modern capitalist societies. This was not always the case however and
utopian visions have been powerful levers for action in the past.
1.2 Aims and Objectives
The aims of the research work are to pay adequate
attention and focus on the concept of utopianism and characterization in
Aminata Sowfall’s The Beggar’s Strike and Sembene Ousmane’s Xala. This
research work will also focus on how utopianism and characterization is
seen and visible in the two texts.
While Thomas More, Campanella and Bacon gave in to their
monastic ideas and wrote about utopia, this research is to dig out the
importance of utopianism using characterization in Aminata Sowfall’s The
Beggar’s Strike and Sembene Ousmane’s Xala. It will also dig out the
types of characterization and how they contributed to the success of
Aminata Sowfall’s The Beggars’ Strike and Sembene Ousmane’s Xala.
1.4 Scope and Delimitation
This research work will be based on the concept of utopianism and
characterization embedded in Aminata’sThe Beggar’s Strike and Sembene
Ousmane’s Xala. The plot structures in the novels will also be
discussed. This research work will also cover the characters in the
Novels and the features of the novels of past experience to which
Aminata Sowfall and Sembene Ousmane’s novels belong.
1.5 Scope and Delimitation
This research work will be a detailed analysis of concept
of utopianism and characterization in Aminata Sowfall’s The Beggars’
Strike and Sembene Ousmane’s Xala. This research topic in review needs
no interview or questionnaire for data analysis purposes. The selected
data will be subject to quantitative analysis.
The novelist narration will be the major and primary source of data
while published books, journals, articles, materials sort from
internets, already concluded project works on this research topic or
related ones will be consulted as secondary sources of data.