oa Alternation - Noble savage and ignoble savage: changing perceptions in the Early British Period

Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



The responses by travellers and missionaries to the black peoples they encountered on the colonial borders of the Cape during the first years of the British occupation reveal an important shift from positive notions about blacks to perceptions of savagery which justify imperial expansion. Generally, other races are seen in terms of stereotypes which are projections of the European travellers' preoccupations. This is perhaps not surprising, because on the colonial frontier the travellers and missionaries encountered new peoples and situations. In the absence of detailed information about these peoples, the Europeans were forced back on themselves in order to provide a framework that could make sense of their experiences. In so doing they often created a construct-the 'Other' - everything that the European is not. As Frantz Fanon points out, reality is seen in Manichean terms in which the self and the Other are radically sundered (Fanon 1968:41).

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