OMNES : The Journal of multicultural society

Current Issue

OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 11, No. 1

[ Article ]
OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.87-109
ISSN: 2093-5498 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Jan 2021
Received 29 Nov 2020 Revised 04 Jan 2021 Accepted 07 Jan 2021

A Study of Division and Communal Conflict in Africa and South Asia
Sheikh Zobaer
North South University, Bangladesh


British colonizers adopted a policy of “divide and rule” to secure colonial dominance in Africa and South Asia, and exploiting the existing communal divisions aided the colonizers in doing so. Mistrust and communal conflicts among people in both Africa and South Asia destabilized social harmony, affording colonial rulers rich opportunities to enhance their dominance. Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God, Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s The River Between, and Manohar Malgonkar’s A Bend in the Ganges reveal the multifarious internal communal conflicts among people in former British colonies in East Africa, West Africa, and South Asia, respectively, and capture how such conflicts paved the way for British colonial dominance. This paper seeks to explore how these three novels are in dialog with one another in their portrayal of the internal conflicts and lack of unity among the peoples of Africa and South Asia during the colonial era that the British colonizers manipulated to tighten their colonial stranglehold.

Keywords: divide and rule, communal division, Africa, South Asia, colonialism

1. Achebe, C. (1964). Arrow of God. London, UK: Heinemann.
2. Achebe, C. (1988). The African trilogy. London, UK: Picador.
3. Ali, S. M. (2009). From East Bengal to Bangladesh: Dynamics and perspectives. Dhaka, Bangladesh: The University Press Limited.
4. Ashcroft, B., Gareth, G., & Helen, T. (1989). The empire writes back: Theory and practice in post-colonial literatures. London, UK: Routledge.
5. Christopher, A. J. (1988). “Divide and rule”: The impress of British separation policies. Area, 20(3), 233–240.
6. Embree, A. T. (1987). Religion and politics. In M. M. Bouton (Ed.), India briefing (pp. 49–75). Colorado, CO: Westview.
7. Farooqui, A. (2015). Divide and rule? Race, military recruitment and society in late nineteenth century colonial India. Social Scientist, 43(3), 49–59.
8. Gikandi, S. (2000). Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge UP.
9. Hodson, H. V. (1993). The great divide: Britain-India-Pakistan. Karachi, Pakistan: Oxford UP.
10. Innes, C. L. (1990). Chinua Achebe. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge UP.
11. Kenyatta, J. (1965). Facing Mount Kenya. London, UK: The Heinemann Group of Publishers.
12. Malgonkar, Mr. (1964). A bend in the Ganges. New Delhi, Bangladesh: Orient Paperbacks.
13. Mezu, R. (2006). Chinua Achebe: The man and his works. London, UK: Adonis & Abbey Publishers Ltd.
14. Morrock, R. (1973). Heritage of strife: The effects of colonialist “divide and rule” strategy upon the colonized peoples. Science & Society, 37(2), 129–151.
15. Ogude, J. (1999). Ngugi’s novels and African history: Narrating the nation. London, UK: Pluto Press.
16. Patterson, R. (1977). Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe. The English Journal, 66(3), 64–65.
17. Prasad, B. (2001). Pathway to India’s freedom: A nation within a nation, 18771937. Dhaka, Bangladesh: The University Press Limited.
18. Roy, R. (2010). South Asian partition fiction in English: From Khushwant Singh to Amitav Ghosh. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam UP.
19. Tharoor, S. (2017). Inglorious empire: What the British did to India. London, UK: C. Hurst & Co. Publishers Ltd.
20. Thiong’o, N. (1965). The river between. Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa: Heinemann Publishers Ltd.
21. Williams, P. (1999). Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Contemporary world writers. Manchester, UK: Manchester UP.

Biographical Note

Sheikh Zobaer is a Lecturer in the Department of English and Modern Languages (DEML) at North South University in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has completed his MA in English Literature from the University of Surrey, UK, before joining as a Lecturer at North South University. He is also the current Teaching Assistant Coordinator of DEML and the Editorial Assistant of Panini: NSU Studies in Language and Literature, which is a peer-reviewed academic journal of DEML. His research areas include postcolonial literature, comparative literature, and trauma theory. Currently, he is working on a project funded by NSU which documents the oral narratives of the survivors of the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.