After reading Walcott, I realized that everything he states is similar to what so many people are trying to express. In literature, a novelist like Tsitsi Dangarembga express a similar idea but through his characters. One character, in particular, is Nhamo. For me, Nhamo is one character who shows the readers how mimicry and hybridity are formed. Nhamo is sent away and learns various western ideologies and lifestyle. When he returns, he adapts his learning to his everyday lifestyle. I believe that Dangarembga created a character who could show her readers what mimicry looked like when embraced. I don’t think Nhamo realized that by embracing the western ideology, he would lose his identity. The things that created his identity were his language, lifestyle, and home. Although Nhamo still lived in the same place, the way in which he lived caused him to lose his natural identity. Nhamo’s sister realizes that he is not the same and says “he had forgotten to speak Shona” (52). To his sister, this is the worst of all. I believe that language plays a huge role in a person’s identity. For Nhamo to lose his language is the start of him losing his identity. Walcott believes that, when language itself is condemned as mimicry, then the condition is hopeless and men are no more than jackdaws, parrots, myna birds, apes” (260).
I agree that Nhamo has accepted and mimicked western culture, however, I also think his character represents a form of hybridity. A form of mimicry reproduces some form of hybridity. For a person or culture to mimic another, they have to adapt to one thing in order to make something new. For example, African American Vernacular and American English. In order to adapt to the western culture, African’s had to learn English in order to communicate. This form of mimicry caused African’s to develop a language which dominates their culture. In addition, this also produces hybridity because the culture still has elements of its original but has combined the original with the new. Walcott says that “In other words that shadows is less malevolent than it appears, and we can absorb it because we know that America is black, that so much of its labor, its speech, its music, its very style of living is generated by what is no cunningly and carefully isolated as “black” culture” (257). I agree that much of America is develop by minorities. Its culture and entertainment are dominated by people of minorities. I don’t think it’s just Black culture. I believe it to be a combination.
For example, if we look at the entertainment industry, it is acceptable for a person to mimic other cultures just as long as it is done correctly. Rapping is credited as being an art belonging to the “black culture.” However, there are rappers like, Eminem, MGK, Post Malone who are all white but embraced by other artists and fans. These rappers have to mimic an art form in which they admire and love. Maybe some people do not agree but there are many who consider them equals. It doesn’t matter their skin color. Now if we turn to politics, Rachel Dolezal believed she was Black. She claimed to be a Black woman. When her story first came out, many people were upset because she was a white woman claiming to be Black. I don’t really understand why people were upset. When a Black person claims to be White, there’s not that much of a backlash because (maybe) White culture is accepted more. Black women mimic White women all the time. There not attacked as bad as Rachel Dolezal was. (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/21/us/white-former-naacp-leader-who-said-she-was-black-still-does.html)
Now if we look at Kim Kardashian when some popular fashion magazines credited her as creating a new trend called “boxer braids,” made many upset. In the Black culture, “boxer braids” are known as cornrows. Black women have been doing cornrows in their hair for years. My mother used to braid my hair in this style when I was younger. I can relate too many after seeing this in the media. I believe it to be okay for Kim Kardashian to mimic a hairstyle, but it became a problem when the original hairstyle wasn’t acknowledged. The media (not Kim Kardashian) made it seem as if she invented something that has never been done. When Black women wear their hair in this manner, it was considered ugly. Now that Kim Kardashian does it, it’s “new.” Mimicry can demolish a culture’s identity and it can also revive it. I believe that mimicry is a bridge for hybridity. Most cultures consist of hybridity and its people have double-consciousness. Dangarembga shows that with its character Nhamo.