MaryLouis Pratt, in the contact zone, talks greatly about what happenswhen the culture clash. “To refer to social places where culturesmeet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highlyasymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, ortheir aftermaths as they lived out in many parts of the world today”(Pratt, p.48). These cultures being different, and obviously not ingood terms with each other, tend to have bad blood with everyone.Evidently, as seen is the case of Sudan in Seasons of Migration tothe North. It is based on the colonial time up to the post-colonial,and the effect this had on the people.
Firstwe see the differences in the two cultures."As best I could I had answered their many questions. They weresurprised when I told them that Europeans were, with minordifferences, exactly like them, marrying and bringing up theirchildren by principles as well as traditions, that they had goodmorals, and were in general good people." (Salih, pg. 3). Thenarrator is being asked about how the western people live, and goeson to say they are good individuals. However, the people in hishometown do not consider it as so. They, in fact, have their idea ofhow different their women are from those of the West. They refer tothem as not knowledgeable. Seemingly, this being because they are notcircumcised like tribal women. The women of the tribe have no saywhen it comes to matters of marriage. We see Hosna being differentfrom the rest. "She looked at me searchingly for a while andsaid: `The boys or the boys` mother? What was there between you andher? She came to your father and her very words to him were: `Tellhim to marry me!` What an impudent hussy! That`s modern women foryou! That was bad enough, but the terrible thing she did later waseven worse.”(Saleh, pg. 123). She wants to choose who will marryher. Notably, this goes ahead to prove like Pratt says, there couldbe a chance for people learning from each other. Not all cultureswere accepted by everyone. Hosna, in refusing to get married, goesahead to threaten murder, which she eventually does.
MaryPratt sees the contact zone as not just a negative thing, but aspositive where people can learn from each other while interacting.Nonetheless, this goes on to be sour when Mustafa decides to fit intothe West just to revenge. Mustafa wants to ‘liberate Africa with[his] penis (Salih, p.120). He wants to inflict Western people, thesame kind of degradation they inflicted on his individuals. Thisoccurs when he has multiple sexual encounters with women offeringthem marriage, but not really meaning it. He uses sex, and dominanceas his tool against the West. On meeting Isabela, Mustafa tells thenarrator that he “closely examined her face: each one of herfeatures increased his conviction that this was [his] prey, […] aglittering figure of bronze under the July sun a city of secrets andrapture” (Salih, p.43). As a result, this allows him to be incontrol.
Theclashing of two cultures brings about rivals in power, and one alwaysconquers the other (Pratt 48). The colonialists are oppressing theSudanese. When Mustafa decides to revenge, he goes ahead to objectifyhis women of choice. They have to fit into his gaze “she appealedto [his] gaze” (Salih, p.29). These are the people he coulddominate over and make them inferior to him. They would be hisrepresentation of the Europeans as a whole. He even goes ahead torefer to them as his prey, seen mostly in the book (Salih, p.30,p.36, p.37, p.142). Clearly, this can define the hierarchy of power.The prey, as we know is meant to be killed, and this is the weakerparty. He goes ahead to relate the women with landscapes, forinstance, Mrs. Robinson with Cairo (Salih, p.25). He then states that“I, over and above anything else, am a colonizer” (Salih, p.94).He is determined to bring back the pride of Africa, and does so bytaking on the name, which their oppressors bestowed on themselves.Also, this puts Western women as a trophy to be won. He wooed them,and won over them. Additionally, this is the same way thecolonialists won the African slaves. Like trophies, and Mustafa wasdetermined to turn that around, and inflict the same on theiroppressors. Power is the line between the two cultures.
Thereis a clash of religion between the Sudanese, and the Europeans. Whenthe writer comes home, things are just as he left them. His father isreading the Koran as usual. Mustafa, on the other hand is also astaunch Muslim. "Then he shook his head and said, `That tribedoesn`t mind to whom they marry their daughters.` However, he added,as though some kind of apology, that Mustafa, during his whole stayin the village had never done anything, which could cause offense. Heregularly attended the mosque for Friday prayers, and that he was`always ready to give up his labor, and this means in good times aswell as sad this was the way in, which my grandfather expressedhimself." (Salih, pg.5). Isabella, one of his women choice ofprey, was a Christian. She ended up denouncing her faith, and evensaying that Christianity was wrong for saying her relationship was asin. After that, she goes ahead to make Mustafa her god. “TheChristians say their God was crucified so that he might bear theburden of their sins. He died, then, in vain, for that they call sinis nothing but the sigh of contentment in embracing you, O pagan godof mine. You are my god and there is no god but you” (Saleh,p.108). "The war ended in victory for us all: the stones, thetrees, the animals, and the iron, while I, lying under thisbeautiful, compassionate sky, felt like we are all brothers he whodrinks and he who prays and he who steals and he who commits adulteryand him who fights and he who kills”. The source is the same. Noone knows what goes on in the mind of the Divine." (Chapter 7,pg. 112). The narrator is well aware of the existence of higherpower. Both these cultures have a belief in God. Since their beliefsare different: Christianity, and Muslim, they end up being in aconflict, and most especially, due to love.
Thewomen who fell in as Mustafa’s prey fail to recognize him as other.In fulfilling Ann’s sexual fantasies, Ann refers to Mustafa’sscent as that tropical fruits, mango, pawpaw and tropical spices. “Iwant to have the smell of you in full the scent of rotting leaves inthe jungles of Africa, the aroma of the mango, and the pawpaw, andthe tropical spices, the fragrance of rain in the desert of Arabia”(Salih, p.142). She also connects Mustafa to the smell of rottingleaves. This indicates an enjoyment at the things detected. Just likeoppression is detected, so do the colonialists find it exciting. Byfailing to recognize Mustafa as her other equal, she objectifies himdown to the smell, an object. Although his partners seem to overcomethe social condemnation of interracial relationships during colonialtimes, they still use their colonial discourse, which fails toperceive Mustafa as anything other than that. Their attraction toMustafa is in a different world, which Mustafa is seen as a symbolof. As a result, Mustafa comes to see all his European partners as arepresentation of the British culture.
Prattmay have wanted to show that the contact zone can yield more goodthan bad. Conversely, this might not necessarily be the thing. With aclash on culture comes so many negative things, struggle for power,revenge, and undeniably loss of life.
Pratt,Mary Louis. (2010). ContactLens: Season of Migration to the North.
Salih,T., & Johnson-Davies, D. (1999).Season of Migration to the North.London: Heinemann.