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Historians and social scientists have presented various impacts of white colonization to different societies. In historical works, scholars present the British as the master and the owner of property within the colonized societies. Most scholars assert that all the colonizers were rich, powerful, and influential. This argument has become a truth in the current political and social societies, as evidenced by the unabated blame from the colonized to the colonizers.
However, the purpose of this essay is to present a contrasting scenario of the ‘whites’ in a colonial country based on the movie Mr. Bones by Anant Singh. The producer illustrates a story of a white man who embraced the African culture to an extent of becoming a magician of a fictional Kuvukiland. Particularly the essay describes the plot, analysis and undertakes a critical evaluation of the movie.
Description of the movie; ‘Mr. Bones’
A videovision Entertainment production and directed by Anant Singh, Mr. Bones is a fictional story in a traditional south African geography illustrated by Kuvukiland. Mr. Bones, the protagonist, is a white man and interestingly a magician. His role is to mediate between the people of Kuvukiland and their god, known as “the great one”.
The story begins with Mr. Bones presiding over the traditional marriage of the Kuvukiland king, King Ekule. Before Mr. Bones authenticates the marriage, he first performs the rituals using his ‘bones’. Controversy of the story occurs when an Indian man interrupts the marriage ceremony. The man offers a necklace to the king with a precious stone before he dies on the hands of the king. Suddenly, the stone starts to haunt the king; Ekule transforms into a violent Indian man.
As all the people in the ceremony run for their safety, Mr. Bones is busy pleading to the “mighty one” to take away the evil spirit from the society. Finally, the god responds and the king transforms back to Ekule. Because of the condition of the king, Mr. Bones seeks for a solution from the “mighty one”.
Through a series of magic and pleading, Mr. Bones establishes that the king should return the precious stone to its home to discard the haunting spirit. In their hunt for the home of the stone, Mr. Bones and his King, Ekule, end up in an Indian town but they do not know the exact geographical position of the town. When Mr. Bones performs his magic, “the mighty one” directs them to a woman in a red dress.
They finally land to Renshi, an Indian woman who develops interest with the stone since her fiancé, Kuyti, is a professor in gemstone and she promises to accommodate them in the city. Kuyti investigation establishes that the stone is precious and valuable, in fact, with a value of more than $ 6 million US dollars. Because Mr. Bones and his king are nescient and backward, Kuyti deceits them that the stone has no value- it is a glass.
Despite his lies, Mr. Bones maintains that he should have the custody of the stone and grabs it away from Kuyti. The story continues with a series of attempts by Kuyti to steal the stone from Mr. Bones but all end in vain. Finally, Mr. Bones, Renshi, and King Ekule emerge the victors after successfully returning the stone to its origin (Singh).
Although the story contains traditions, which are no more in practice, its intended audience includes the modern political and social societies, which the British colonized. It is a story, which demonstrates to the historical scholars that not all the British were colonizers; some were at the service of the society.
It also demonstrates to the social scientists the impact of the African culture to other societies such as Britain and Indian (Singh). This work is a form of entertainment to the children as it is rich in comical scenarios. Lessons learnt from this work touches societal levels ranging from children to adults, historians to social scientists and politicians.
Purposely, Anant Singh aims to change the perception of the society about the colonization of the world by the European superpowers. Scholars have explored the effects of the colonization particularly to the cultures of the societies colonized with a general assertion that colonizers degraded and imposed their culture to such societies.
By using the character of Mr. Bones, a white and indeed a colonizer, Singh demonstrates that there were those whites who assimilated, perhaps colonized by the cultures of the society. The producer uses geographical setting of South Africa; it is the longest colonized society in the world. This has a revelation that not all the whites were indeed colonizers; some loved the cultures of those societies and as illustrated by the character of Mr. Bones, came to integrate with the local people.
Singh brings the Indian character into the story to reveal their entrepreneurship efforts and love for money. Professor Kuyti is an outstanding character in this demonstration. Since the story dates back to 1880s, it is vivid that entrepreneurship is a hereditary skill among the Indians.
Although English is the main language in presentation of the story, the writer has used a variety of colloquialisms. The author uses the terms “great one” to describe the power and the might of the god of the Kuvukiland. In order to illustrate the backwardness of Mr. Bones and the people of Kuvukiland comically, the writer uses “dragon fly” or “flying monster” to describe an airplane and “hippo and cockroach” to describe a lorry.
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In order to show the Indian perception over the other races, Kuyti refers to Mr. Bones and King Ekule as “the brothers to baboons”. It is worth noting that the colloquialisms used in this story are simple and direct for the audience to interpret. As mentioned earlier on, this story intends to entertain and educate children and impact on the perception of the scholars on colonization.
The story represents the characters as strongly clinched to their traditions and customs. Mr. Bones and King Ekule represent a typical society under colonization while Renshi and Kuyti illustrate a typical Indian society. In fact, these characters conform to traditions of their societies and as a result, they offer several effects to the society of the 21st century.
The story reinforces the cultural expectations of an Indian society among the audiences. In contrast, it narrates a different story of colonization to the viewers; it illustrates how the whites were assimilated into the culture of a colonized society.
This will change the common knowledge that the white colonizers degraded the cultures of the societies they colonized. According to Schmidt, the public knowledge about issues in the society depends on the information broadcasted in the media (1). It is therefore justifiable that the audience’s perception on this matter of history will change and perhaps offer insight to elicit more studies into the history on the subject.
To the audience, the story aims to kindle some emotional responses. First, the audience should believe that the cultural degradation was not a result of colonization by the whites but due to cultural relationships, as represented by the character of Mr. Bones. Secondly, scholars and historians should further contest on their assertions on the effect of colonization to cultures in the colonized societies in order to offer conclusions that are more convincing.
The story, though indirectly, has political effects to most societies all over the world. Media plays a very crucial role in political decision-making (Brigg and Muller 132). Political blames by the once colonized societies to their former masters are likely to reduce. Since the story has revealed that colonization was a ‘two-way’ process, no party therefore, should blame the other for issues arising from colonial times. In a broader perspective, the political relationship among all the races of the world and hence international relations will improve.
The character of the white magician, Mr. Bones, in a black society is a revelation to the modern society that the culture of the colonized society assimilated and colonized some colonial masters.
This is a fact, which most historical studies have never ventured to explore. Besides presenting this academic position, Singh illustrates the comedy of an uncivilized society through the characters of Mr. Bones and King Ekule. The story has great social, cultural, and political effects to the modern societies. Mr. Bones’ storyline is indeed a resolution to the conflicts of the 21st century.
Brigg, Morgan and Muller, Kate. “Conceptualizing culture in Conflict Resolution.” Journal of Intercultural Studies 30.2 (2009): 121-140.
Schmidt, Diane. “Public opinions and media coverage.”Journal of Labor Research 14.2 (1993): 1-2.
Singh, Anant, dir. Mr. Bones. Videovision Entertainment, 2008. Film.