The historical novel Segu by Maryse Conde is set in the African state of Segu during a clip of great cultural alteration. The African Slave Trade. the spread of Islam. and personal individuality challenges were all enormous and far-reaching issues confronting Africa from the late 1700s to early 1800s. Conde uses the four brothers of the Traore household. Tiekoro. Malobali. Siga. and Naba. to show the impact that the issues of Islam. break one’s back trade. and individuality had on African people through the development of each character. The oldest of the boies. Tiekoro exemplifies the influence and spread of Islam through out Africa at the clip.
When the reader is foremost introduced to Tiekoro. he is portrayed as a male child unhappy with his faith and urgently seeking for one that focuses on love instead than fear like the native faith he was raised with. Tiekoro is intrigued by a new faith and in Conde’s words. “Islam was new to the part. brought at that place by the Arab trains like some alien ware! ( Conde 22 ) . ” In this manner. Tiekoro saw Islam as a agency of get awaying from a universe of forfeits and old ways to one that offers an alien. loving entreaty. With Tiekoro. Conde is able to demo how Islam spread through trans Saharan trade paths. every bit good as the chance it provided for Africans during the clip period. Tiekoro ventures off in chase of Islamic surveies and after being expelled from an Islamic university begins to learn Islam in the metropolis of Jenne. It is in Jenne that Tiekoro provinces. “How unusual that the name of God is should split people when God is love and power. The creative activity of all life animals comes from His love. and non from any other power… ( Conde 149 ) . ” It is in this penetration that Tiekoro once more demonstrates the nature of Islam.
Unlike the faith he was born into in Segu that focused on forfeits and ascendant worship. Islam is a faith of love that offers him comfort and strength. It is because of this new cognition and religion that Tiekoro is unable to penetrate how faith could divide people apart alternatively of conveying them together. Upon his return to Segu. Tiekoro is praised and respected for his journey to distant lands. He is besides made a member of a high council and consulted on issues of dealingss with adjacent people ( Conde 163 ) . The regard and esteem given to Tiekoro demonstrates how Islam was finally perceived. Tiekoro. much similar Islam as a whole was finally respected for his secular cognition and different sentiments. which made him a really powerful individual in his community. In this sense Islam. although at first different to the people of Segu. provided helpful diverseness to the people of Africa. In the same manner that Tiekoro exemplified the spread of Islam in Africa. his younger brother Malobali is a symbol for the intervention of adult females in African society. every bit good as one facet of the African slave trade. First. Malobali’s attitude toward adult females in Africa will be examined.
In her first description of Malobali. Conde writes. “He was a violent. quarrelsome small male child. wholly spoilt because of his utmost good expressions ( Conde 127 ) . ” Malobali is a violent male child who will finally make his terminal because of it. and after he leaves Segu. Malobali joins a group of warriors with his friend Kodjoe and falls into a universe of immoral behaviour. While delving yams from the land that did non belong to them. Malobali and Kodjoe came across a miss roving in the field. As she ran off Malobali chased her and he pinned her down ; “She flashed him a expression of rebelliousness unusual to anyone so immature. So he penetrated her. ( Conde 231 ) . ” This is non the first adult female Malobali has raped. and in making so in such a insouciant manner. he demonstrates his deficiency of regard for adult females. During this clip particularly in Africa. adult females as a whole were non respected when compared to work forces. Malobali’s actions hence represent this by and large held belief by Africans at this clip that adult females were inferior to work forces.
Finally Malobali evolves as a character and makes smarter determinations sing his intervention toward adult females. When in the presence of the adult female Romana seeking to assail him. Conde writes. “He was about to throw himself on her. strike hard her down. kill her possibly. when a voice reminded him of his troubles in the Ashanti land after the colza of Ayaovi. What would go on if he now committed slaying? ( Conde 265 ) . ” In two ways here. Malobali has grown up. First he realizes that all his actions have effects and that he must recognize them before doing unwise determinations. In recognizing this. Malobali represents Africans germinating as a whole to acknowledge that they must work together as a people. Second. Malobali realizes that Women are people excessively who can be reasoned with and respected instead than literally crush into entry. On a expansive graduated table. Malobali’s 2nd disclosure represents a alteration in attitude toward adult females by African people. Still. more of import is Malobali’s development in the context of the African Slave Trade.
Subsequently in the narrative Malobali gets involved in the slave trade. Conde writes. “So Malobali was to be seen being rowed out to the slave ships. coming back with their captains… and traveling with them to inspect human cowss whom he himself had made presentable beforehand by assorted fast ones ( Conde 271 ) . ” Here. by helping the slave ship captains. Malobali is playing an active function in the extension of the African Slave Trade. Malobali’s actions and active engagement in the slave trade as demonstrated above. point to the thought presented in category of Africans as active agents in the slave trade. This thought of bureau focal points around Africans actively pull stringsing the slave trade for economic additions because they knew how to work the system. With this apprehension of bureau. it can be understood that Malobali was decidedly moving as an agent in the African slave trade.
In a grander sense. Malobali therefore represents Africans as a whole who acted as agents in the slave trade. These people did be and Malobali’s character in Segu serves as an illustration of this thought. Malobali kept working his manner up. and shortly he managed slaves on plantations ; “Now Malobali could be seen taking droves of slaves out of the town to the thenar Grovess and oversing their work ( Conde 272 ) . ” This farther supports the thought of bureau and demonstrates the consequence of historical fortunes on mundane people’s lives. Malobali is a native African with strong community ties coming from being brought up in a little small town. The historical patterned advance of European engagement in Africa and within the slave trade nevertheless. provided the economic and personal inducements for Malobali to “turn against” his African brothers and go an active agent in the slave trade. In the same manner that Malobali’s active engagement in the slave trade was a consequence of situational effects. his brother Siga’s battle with individuality was a effect of his birth.
Siga is unlike his brothers in the sense that his female parent was a slave. She committed self-destruction when he was immature. and through out the book Siga struggles with hold oning the nature of his true individuality. He feels neglected. non because he is treated ill. but instead because he is merely ignored by everyone. He lives in the shadow of his “legitimate” brother Tiekoro and although they are the same tallness. age. and are frequently mistaken for each other. Tiekoro is favored over Siga. Conde captures Siga’s defeat by saying. “Alas. the jeopardies of birth! If he’d been born of this uterus instead than that. his life would hold been rather different ( Conde 30 ) . ” This is the ground for Siga’s individuality battle through out the book. He is plagued by the changeless reminder in Tiekoro of what he could hold been. and invariably haunted by incubuss of his slave mother’s horrific self-destruction. Siga’s individuality crisis presents itself in his battle to turn out himself to his male parent Dousika. Because Tiekoro ever overshadows him. Siga is invariably fighting to derive his father’s blessing.
Conde writes. “He had passed excessively shortly. without waiting for him. Siga. to turn out himself. Now Dousika would ne’er cognize what his boy was truly deserving. this boy whom he regarded as a asshole ( Conde 180 ) . ” Siga’s demand for blessing from his male parent is a consequence of his changeless battle with individuality. Because of his insecurity with his ain ego. he longs for the blessing of his male parent and is heartbroken when he realizes that he will ne’er be able to turn out himself. Siga’s Character in Segu parallels the battle of Africans on the continent with their common individuality. The disjunction of the parts and the intercession of Europeans on the continent service to stratify Africans populating on the continent. Siga serves as a metaphor for the African’s battle with individuality in the nineteenth century. The youngest brother of the Traore household is Naba who. in contrast with Malobali. represents the horrors of the African slave trade.
Naba is the youngest. and most reliant of the brothers. He tags along with Tiekoro until Tiekoro journeys to Jenne to analyze Islam. After Tiekoro. Naba begins to label along with a equal named Tiefolo. Naba goes on a hunting expedition with Tiefolo one twenty-four hours and gets captured by slave bargainers. Naba is sold into bondage and lives as a slave. His journey is one from a kid of wealth to a common slave. representing the horrors of the African slave trade. After going a slave. Naba becomes a broken adult male. Before his decease. Conde writes. “Ever since that fatal hunting expedition had parted him from his ain people. he had lost involvement in everything ( Conde 215 ) . ” Slavery made Naba lose religion in everything. He one time was a happy young person playing with his friends and brothers. but before he dies. he feels nil. He does non even contend for his life because he feels that it is non deserving anything.
Becoming a slave destroyed his liquors and even his will to populate. Naba’s narrative shows the dark side of the slave trade. While his brother Malobali benefited from the same game of slave trade. Naba ended up paying the ultimate monetary value. The same event had different effects for both brothers. and in making so. represents the two sides to the slave trade issue. Slavery can be good to some in certain contexts. but at the same clip there will ever be those who suffered because of those who prosper. The Slave trade had desperate effects on Naba. whose character served as an illustration of all those lost and forgotten in the African slave trade.
Africa in the late 1700s and early 1800s was a clip of great significance. Religions and civilizations were being fused. personal and generational individualities were being developed and questioned. and the African slave trade was good for some while turn outing damaging to the lives of others. Maryse Conde’s Segu. uses the four brothers of the Traore household to incarnate the effects of these historical events and do grander claims approximately Africa as a whole. Through this narrative we are able to derive insight about Africa during this clip period while seeing the effects these historical events had on the people of this clip.
Maryse. Conde . Segu. New York: Viking Penguin Inc. . 1987.