Term Paper: Healers

Pages: 4 (1217 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature - African  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] The river is a source, and metaphor for life, and of the healing power of the Gods. Fresh from the competition, Densu and Anan sit in the river, and gaze at the bottom of the clear waters. All is peaceful for the two, and the author is seemingly setting the contrast for the entire book. When the people fight, either themselves or each other, they miss out on the simple treasure of understanding the great mystery of the life giving waters. They seek to find power or status for themselves, and never are able to find the peace they seek, because they try to find it through war.

Densu introduces the reader to another character, his friend, and possible love interest Jesiwa. Jesiwa has been married before, and thought the circumstances of here singlehood are not disclosed, she is marred from a history of 4 miscarriages. The first happened as the result of an accident, but the 2-4 were spontaneous. Jesiwa tortures herself mentally over her inability to have children, until she spends time with a healer named, Damfu. Through a long, scene, and many days, Damfu helps Jesiwa see that it is within her power to conceive again, she only has to want to. When she complains, and responds that "there is something too strong for me . . . An evil force that over powers me . . . so that I cannot conceive"

Damfu replies, in somewhat oriental philosophy "If it is a power within you that is more powerful that you are, then it has to borrow power from your real self. When you gather all your scattered energy, then you can see your own strength, and see if you are really too weak, or too strong."

Again, Armah is making a metaphor for the African people. Scattered and sectarian, they are weak, and the white men can conquer them at will. Since Armah is writing in retrospect, he is identifying one of the reasons for Africa's vulnerability. The African tribe's own disunity created their weakness, and thereby gave the power to the colonizing white men.

The book continues to illustrate the tribal infighting, and mistrust among the peoples which typified the African tribes, until the end, when the healer Asamoa is summoned for a council. The Healer is told that the white men are invading the region, with the intent of taking control of a significant city, Asante. In the midst of the tribal council of warrior kings, Asamoa says to let the white man come. Let him invade, and become fully engaged in the city, and in the jungle. Asamoa says that they do not need to fight the white man, but simply let him become trapped in the jungle. "Let them fight a long war with the jungle"

he advises. Then the white man would defeat himself.

By proposing unity among the tribes, Asamoa identified the path toward a strengthened African people, and Armah, who studied in America, also was trying to communicate that when a people, diverse though they may be, can unify around their differences rather than fight over them, the people can be strong, and victorious. Armah makes a clear statement throughout the African imagery in his book that the African people are the ones responsible for their destiny. In doing so, he encouraged them to find a way to put an end to centuries of tribal conflict. The healers, for the African people, can only be the African peoples themselves.


History of Ghana. Ghanaweb.com. 2004. Accessed 18 Feb 2004. http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/history/

Armah, Ayi. The Healers. London: Cox and Wyman, Ltd. 1978.

Ghanaweb.com, online

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