mimicry/hybridity/dislocation/diaspora/decolonization/exile/talking back/mimicry/hybridity/dislocation/diaspora/decolonization/exile/talking back
ARNOLD HARRICHAND ITWARU
Arnold H. Itwaru was born in 1942, in Guyana. He immigrated to Canada in 1969. He writes poetry, non-fiction works, and novels. Some of his works include Entombed Survivals (1987), Shanti (1988), The Invention of Canada (1990), and Closed Entrances (1994).
At 27 years of age this intellectual young South-Asian man immigrated to Canada in search of many experiences, which were pleasant and not so pleasant, in search of an “idea”, a mass subconscious construction of ideologies, aspirations, fears, and troubles; he was searching for country, he was searching for Canada. What he found was to be the invention of Canada. When he speaks of the invention of Canada, he tries to expose the common accepted notion of Canada as an invention, a widely accepted ideal of a living space for self-proclaimed “Canadians”, the promised safe haven of colonizers come before, and today the image of a land of tolerance through self-repeated statements of existence and “mutual” aspirations. Canada exists in our minds, as does the U.S. or any other country, because it is the fruit of mass egocentric imaginations encouraged by the power at hand.
Itwaru suggests that this power consists of a façade that protects the real dealings from being revealed. He puts forward his own warning about multiculturalism’s true state by claiming that to fall prey to the idea that it has achieved its full potential is to be confronted once again to the façade put forward by the political and ideological power in place in order to camouflage the reality behind the façade we know as “truth”. On the other hand, he does acknowledge that there is some evidence of tolerance to be found in multiculturalism, if only just a little. “As the products of English-speaking publishing houses these novels (i.e. Novels by Immigrants) are designated for the general readership of many, if not the majority, of those whose languaged sensibility comes from, and celebrates, the very values which these novels question and condemn. Thus it may be tentatively said that their very existence is indicative of a culture of tolerance”(p.143). However, Itwaru warns again not to be fooled by the appearance of great tolerance and acceptance of immigrant writings and cultural influence in general, as it is only a very small percentage of the immigrant voice that is “properly” heard around the land called Canada. Finally, the author wishes to remind us all of the importance of the immigrant experience within the Canada most white Anglophones have adopted as their reality, and the other Canada which lives only in the minds and writings of those relocated souls who are lost in a sea of invented identities. As the author so eloquently writes, even the language they must use to convey their frustrations isn’t their own. “For the novels, despite their condemnation of the hegemonic pressures at work in Anglophone domination, are by their very use of the language, affirming its centrality, hence its ideological force, in the lives of the immigrants”(p.144).
By Max Valence