Joseph Ruhomon's India: The Progress of Her People at Home and Abroad, and How Those in British Guiana May Improve Themselves

Joseph Ruhomon's India: The Progress of Her People at Home and Abroad, and How Those in British Guiana May Improve Themselves

Joseph Ruhomon's India: The Progress of Her People at Home and Abroad, and How Those in British Guiana May Improve Themselves

Joseph Ruhomon's India: The Progress of Her People at Home and Abroad, and How Those in British Guiana May Improve Themselves

Synopsis

This reissue of an 1894 pamphlet, with an excellent introduction by Guyanese historian Clem Seecharan, celebrates Joseph Ruhomon as the first Indian intellectual in British Guiana, now Guyana. He wrote at a time, Seecharan notes, when "self-deprecation was an instinct, . . . [and so] the construction of this essay was an admirable accomplishment". This work, Seecharan adds, "belongs to the Caribbean intellectual tradition".

Excerpt

In political terms, with two major exceptions, the 1890s were everywhere particularly bleak for people who were not of European descent. In the United States of America, the end of Reconstruction allowed white supremacist governments to disenfranchise African Americans; the partition of Africa and the extension of imperial control globally, made the imperial powers appear unusually secure and invulnerable. Even the two exceptions seemed to confirm this superiority: the Ethiopian defeat of the Italian invasion had been the last triumph of traditional Africa; the Japanese success against China (and soon against Russia) depended on imitating Europe. Yet Joseph Ruhomon, whose 1894 pamphlet is here reissued in an excellent new edition by Dr Clem Seecharan, proved to be part of a larger movement of ideas ultimately subversive of that triumphant colonialism.

Of immediate importance to the topic of Ruhomon's pamphlet, had been the founding of the Indian National Congress in 1885. The influence that this organization would have, throughout the British Empire, must not be underestimated. The Indian subcontinent had replaced the Caribbean as the central possession of the British Empire at the beginning of the nineteenth century: the movement towards independence would have a greater effect in dissolving the British Empire than had the independence of the thirteen British North American colonies in the late eighteenth century. The example of the Indian struggle for independence, and the effect of its achievement in 1947, would unravel the Empire on which the sun never set, in a remarkably short time. The pride in his heritage that Ruhomon displays was one shared by many equally young people in India, and would play a crucial role in those struggles.

Outside India, similar movements of intellectual resistance to the racist pretensions of Europe were stirring. The creoles of Sierra Leone had already . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.