Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In the Tales of Tikongs, Epeli Hau’ofa presents the fictional island of Tiko and its people facing the threat of outside invaders, the westerners, who attempt to develop the island and its people. However, the change that is brought by the westerners is not welcomed. The westerners do not only bring an imposed attitude of change, but they also bring with them an attitude of belittlement towards both Tiko and its inhabitants. Throughout the Tales of Tikongs, the westerners view Tiko as a place that is in desperate need of development, and they apply the same philosophy to the citizens of Tiko. As a result, the natives end up equating their own flaws with those of the island.
On several occasions, the westerners impose their methods of development on the unsuspected natives of Tiko. During one instance from the second part of the book in “The Big Bullshit,” Pulu’s neighbor asserts, “Seems like the Kiwis are trying to turn Tiko into a regular pastureland by providing anyone interested with a small beginning for a bigger end” (60). Here, Pulu’s neighbor seems to emphasize the “Kiwis’” (New Zealanders) objective: they want to turn the island into something like their own. To do so, the New Zealanders attempt to mold Tiko’s citizens to conform to their standards. In this example, New Zealanders are cattle owners, thus they provide cattle to the inhabitants of Tiko so they too could become cattle owners.
The imposed western thinking on the natives makes them lose their own sense of selves, and forces them to think of themselves in the terms of the land. This is apparent in the already discussed passage on page 8: “The Good Book says the honest man walks that straight and narrow path, but alas! our straight roads are much too wide.” Confused because of the foreign western thought, the natives of Tiko take the Biblical words literally. Because of this western mindset, they see that their island is flawed because it does not conform to western notions. Moreover, because they identify themselves with their land, they too see themselves as flawed because they do not conform to the western notions. The natives of Tiko could not be considered honest men, because they indulge in “half-truths, quarter-truths, and one-percent truths” (7).

No comments: