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An Exploration of Colonial Glory in the In the Land of the Kappiris: Critical Analysis

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In the Land of the Kappiris was a travelogue written by S.K. Pottekatt. It was originally written in Malayalam language under the title Kappirikalude Naattil and it was published in the year 1951. S.K. Pottekkatt (1913-1982) or Sankaran Kutty Pottekatt was an Internationally acclaimed Malayalam author. He was a prolific writer and has authored more than sixty book including ten novels, twenty-four collections of short stories, a couple of books based on personal observations, three anthologies of poems, eighteen travelogues, four plays, and a collection of essays. He was awarded the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award in1961 for his novel, Oru Theruvinte Katha (The Story of a Street). Oru Deshathinte Katha (The Story of a Place), his autobiographical work was the winner of the Keala Sahitya Academi Award in 1972, Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award in 1977, and the Jnanpith Award in 1980. It was made into an award-winning film. His works have been translated into English, Italian, Russian, German, and Czech, besides all major Indian languages.

Being a versatile writer who enriched Malayalam literature by his fictional and non-fictional works, S.K. Pottekatt is considered the pioneer of travel writing in Malayalam. The travel bug in him woke up and he made his first visit abroad in 1949. He travelled many times to countries in Europe, the Americas, South Asia, and the Far East. He mingled with the common people in these countries. This was a period when Malayalam language and literature flourished with contributions of S.K. Pottekkatt. His notable works like Nepal Yatra, Kappirikalude Nattil, London Notebook, Indonesian Diary, Pathirasuryante Naattil, Bohemian Chitrangal, Bali Dweep, have enriched the language. The chance of transferring reading experience to visual experience adds charm to travel literature. He made Malayalis aware of the geography, life, and culture of various countries and people abroad more than any other author. His popularity lies in the lyrical quality of his travelogues sprinkled with humour, keen observation in depth study, and vivid images. As apioneer in Malayalam travel writing, his works led to the popularization of this genre in Malayalam. Some of his Travelogues enjoyed greater readership and popularity in Malayalam than the novels and plays of the same period.

Pottekkatt was a socially committed writer with a political vision. He was involved in politics along with his literary career. He won a seat at Lok Sabha from the Thalassery constituency in 1962 with a majority of 66,000 votes, defeating the popular Malayalam literary and social critic, Sukumar Azhikode.

In the Land of the Kappiris describes what Pottekkatt saw and experienced during his African tour. It gives an insight about the life of African natives as well as Indian expats under the British rule, during 1950s. This travelogue has been divided into nine sections and each of the titles has been titled as “On the African Soil”, “Beira”, “In South Rhodesia”, “The Victorian Falls”, “The Indians of East Africa”, “From Blantyre to Dodoma”, “Looking Back at Nyasaland”, “Swahili”, and “The Indian Bwana.” In each of these chapters, Pottekkatt had done a vivid description of African land and their people, their life style, and culture. When we deeply analyze this book it is evident that how far the African people had been exploited and tortured by the colonizers.

In the first chapter of this book called “On the African Soil”, Pottekkat describes about his very first impression upon an African land when he reached the Mombasa port in Africa.

“Mombasa port, said to be the eastern gateway to the African continent When I looked I saw the figure of a tall, half-naked Kappiri standing on the terrace of a ware house of the wharf, looking at our ship in amazement. He was the first Negro I set eyes on the land of the Kappiris. To me, he seemed the entire black race of Africa.

He must have stood there similarly wide-eyed when the ship f a few new adventurous Norwegian sailors tried to open the doors to the Dark continent in the eleventh century. He might have stood and stared similarly at Vasco da Gama’s sail as it neared the shore in 1497.The passage of centuries has brought no change in his sense of wonderment. That is precisely why he has not made progress even now”.

From the above references from the text gives us an idea about the un civilized and un educated community of negroes who are the major part of the population of Africa. The colonizer, the whites made use of this condition of the Negroes and they continued their process of colonization even in the twentieth century. Not only the colonizers but also the nature was also against the Negroes as the melting of glaciers of Europe increased the sea level. As a result, the rivers and lakes dried and temperature increased by making the Northern part of Africa a huge desert. This made the negro race to move to the central Africa which made them to be isolated in between the desert and the dense forest of the south. Hence they were forced to live the primitive existence.

The Negroes lived a slave like living under their White master. He went numb with the fear of the tortures inflicted on them by the man and nature. When he commits crimes his master gives three options as punishments for him like prison sentence, fine or lashing. The Kappiri usually chooses brutal lashing. He has no place in his mother land and every adult Kappiri has to levy taxes for the white man to live in his native land. He doesn’t have the right to come out of his hut after 8 pm, if he did so he may be punished. It is a criminal offence if a Negro raped a white woman. If he did so, he may be sentenced to death. It is funny to notice that it was the white man’s lust that caused Africa to have lakhs of colored people. This is a significant instance of the impact of colonization in the African land. Though it is a very serious issue Pottekkatt had presented it humorously.

In the second chapter called “Beira”, Pottekkatt writes about his next destination town in Africa called Beira. It was an important city in Portugal ruled Africa. Though it was a Portuguese Colony they were against British and the English language. As compared to other African countries Beira was free of racial discrimination. In this chapter, we can see a different side of colonization which is very much different from the British colonization. Here blacks and whites are considered equal and there is only one restriction that was don’t speak English. But, as Portugal is a dictatorship they will destroy the voices against them. This is also seen in Beira. “Once the Government closed down a newspaper just because it said that there are no public Latrines in Beira…there are rules that the work force in any office should be 90%Portuguese”. This also an important instance of the domination of colonizers upon a colony.In their colonial glorious life they wanted good job, food, and drinks.

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Towards the end of this chapter, we can see the beautiful description of beauty Beira land and its seashore. For a reader, it gives a real like feeling on reading this passage. At the same time, he expresses the harsh realities in the land about the scarcity water and the high expense of food. In the last part of this chapter, Pottekkatt remembers the meeting with a man from Madras who came to Beira before thirty years and now a citizen of Beira. In Pottekkatt’s long journey through Arica, this meeting gave him full of warmth and hospiatality from him. When he saw the garden of the Madras Man it made Pottekkatt to recall the thoughts about Kerala and his Home. Here we can see a diasporic life of man who is living in a society which is distinctively different from his native culture.

In the third chapter called “In South Rhodesia”, Pottekkatt deals a place in South Rhodesa where there is astrong practice of social discrimination. Just like South Africa, it was also a self-governed country and it was ruled by the White people .The frequency of the discrimination is examined on the instance of Pottekkatt’s journey to Rhodesia by Train. In that train there was separate bogey for the Negros and the whites. The Negros’ s coach was labeled with the words ‘Natives’ in huge letters. It was avery dirty bogey just like a cow shed There was no adequate light in it and the negros were forced to travel like cattles. The second class coaches close to the author’s coupe was reserved for the Asians and even when there are plenty of seats in it none of the Whites came to it.

In the fourth chapter called “The Victoria Falls” Pottekkat has done a complete and detailed description about Victoria falls which is a significant spot in African land. On watching the beauty of Victorian falls he recalls the saying of Lord Livingston that “It had never been seen seen by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”. More than a travel writer here Pottekkat is seemed as a historian and also a mythologist who digs history and the mythological of Victorian falls which was a pilgrimage spot for the Batoka tribe and who pray before it and also sacrificesd human beings to please the supreme god of Barimo.

The fifth chapter “The Indians of East Africa” deals with the Indian community in Africa. There were Gujartis as Businessmen, Malayali people in the clerical jobs, and the Tamilians in the manual labour sector. The British were not favorable to the large number of Indians in Africa. This stemmed out from different reasons. Mainly, the Indians knew the dialect exceptionally well and had an awfully inviting demeanor towards the Africans. They had everything from meat to dress at one single put which the English may never dream around. Be that as it may, Pottekkatt does not have exceptionally great things to say approximately these greedy Baniyas. He says that they are too of the same form as the British are abusing the Africans to make benefit. By the by, the British needs to drive out Indians from Africa so that they can have a imposing business model in abuse. In degree, the Indian misuse is much less when compared to the Europeans. Pottekkatt at that point brings on an passage from the discourse of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru who continually inquired the Indians settled in Africa to work for the welfare of Africa, which is seconded by the creator. Not at all like other chapters, here we see a baffled Pottekkatt criticizing the Indians who are pleased of their Indianness, but modest absent from its substance.

In the sixth chapter “From Blantyre to Dodoma” At Mbeya, Pottekkatt realized that the whites don’t permit the locals to live inside the city. They have partitioned space exterior the city limits called the Local Towns. The Whites are on a civilizing mission attempting to make the Kappiris modern, he remarks jeeringly. However he does not generalization the complete white populace like that and affectionately recalls Mr.V, an Englishman who is basic of the English ways.

In the seventh chapter “Looking Back at Nyasaland” tragically, Pottekkat in this chapter has looked at Nyasaland with a stereotypical vision of Africa being a dim landmass. Nyasaland may be a “dark nation, its fields burnt and blackened by timberland fires, its dark individuals hung in dark clothes.” Pottekkatt looks at Nyasaland with an outsider’s eye as he is one. But he does not appear a enormous heart which is accommodating enough of others’ traditions and convictions. Instep takes the tone of a self-aggrandizing mission of civilization which the Europeans fondly call as the white man’s burden. Nyasaland may be a protectorate of the British. Be that as it may, they have not done any massive developmental exercises there since their, as it were deliberate, is that of misuse. For instance, Nyasaland has tremendous mineral wealth, but The British does not need to enjoy in long term projects since they don’t know for how long they would be in Nyasaland. Subsequently, they only concentrate on tobacco cultivation. Nyasa lake is the third biggest lake in Africa. They have a custom called unyongo, where the boys and young ladies are taught conjugal customs and the craftsmanship of adore making. The Ngrus are another tribe and have cannibalistic traits. They record their upper teeth and make them sharp and pointed. They don’t indeed waver to feed on their possess kith and kinfolk. Be that as it may, cannibalism has diminished impressively since the advent of the British.

In the eighth chapter “Swahili” Pottekkatt tells about a unique language prevailing in African land especially in, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, and Kenya. It means the dialect of the coastal arrive. The uniqueness of Swahili is that they begin with tight consonant clusters like mtoni and msumku. Swahili has significantly borrowed from Arabic and indeed Hindi. It is a straightforward dialect with no script of its claim and employments the English script. Pottekkatt afterward unfolds an curiously account almost his ‘mastery’ of Swahili where he gets to be a interpreter of Swahili between a transport driver and a poverty stricken English man who boarded the bus.

In the ninth and the final chapter titled “TheIndian Bwana” Pottekkatt deals with the life of Indians in the land of Kappiris. They don’t draw profitable pay rates unlike popular conception. The Holmes Compensations Commission had prescribed a climb in their salary, but this no place come to the compensation of the whites. In any case, since Africa is much cheaper than India, they may manage a extravagant way of life with amazing living rooms and three to four servants. They were given four months take off and moment lesson tickets to visit their countries in every four a long time. After retirement, these Indians were doubtful approximately returning to India since they are uncertain approximately the way their homeland would treat them.

He too talks around the enmity or antagonism that individuals from diverse parts of India have for each other, which is reexamined and strengthened in Africa. North Indians slight the Madrasis, Goans revel in the colonial radiance and the moreover. Pottekkatt is profoundly bothered almost the direction of such intolerance and muses over how this seem hold a country together.

So, through this research paper, we can arrive at a conclusion that the travelogue In the Land Of Kappiris is indeed a clear depiction of the influence of Europen colonialism in the African land. The brutal exploitation and discrimination in the social-economic and the political life of negros by the colonizers are vividly portrayed in this book. This paper could trace the instances where the illiterate and alienated life of the Kappiris was exploited. We can also insist the proficiency of a native Indian author like Pottekkatt who is successful in portraying Africa before the readers by his letters. His solid contradiction against human subjugation and oppression can be seen in “In the Land of Kappiris.” This comment underlines that Africans had to put more exertion to achieve freedom in considerations and activity. Pottekkatt’s concern towards the individuals of Africa could be due to his possess individual encounters as a by item of colonization that happened in India. This comment too focuses that indeed in spite of the fact that other ex-colonies have begun to recapture their past radiance, the individuals of Africa don’t appear to show any sign of advance. This might have raised his concerns. This comment might be intended to bring mindfulness to the individuals of Africa for the have to be rise from the impacts of oppression that they endured from. Hence he had exhibited his mastery in explaining the life of a continent with a touch of humour and wit. Thus this paper could explore the influence of colonialism in African land as well as the proficiency of a native Indian writer in making a travelogue as the real travel experience for the reader

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An Exploration of Colonial Glory in the In the Land of the Kappiris: Critical Analysis. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from
“An Exploration of Colonial Glory in the In the Land of the Kappiris: Critical Analysis.” Edubirdie, 12 Aug. 2022,
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An Exploration of Colonial Glory in the In the Land of the Kappiris: Critical Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 12 [cited 2023 Feb 4]. Available from:
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