Neocolonialism In Michel Tidwell's The Ponds Of Kalambayi

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In The Ponds of Kalambayi, Michel Tidwell shares his experience of his Peace Corps mission to teach the people of Kalambayi how to make fish ponds in order to make another source of food. While he talks about his experience, he also shows the connections Kalambayi’s interaction in globalization with the trading of raw materials like cotton and diamonds. However, with these connections, Kalambayi is disconnected from the Western world due to neocolonialism thus causing disconnections that people from the Western world have not considered.
Because Belgium colonized Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) there is still neocolonialism within Kalambayi after they gained independence from them. Around the 1950’s, the Belgians introduced
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Both productions of cotton and diamonds, have brought in soldiers to make the production more efficient bringing tension and fear to the workers. At the mines, there are not a lot of government regulations or even control since it was so easy for anyone to buy diamonds off diggers: “The diggers sold the diamonds to government-licensed buying agents or to various hustlers, smugglers and loan sharks who stood around the mines wearing poker faces, ready to deal” (IP 118). Because of this it has made the rich richer and the poor remain poor. With these kinds of control, the poor remain blanketed on why they remain so poor and continue following the companies who buy their materials. Before Tidwell’s influence on breaking rules with the cottonseeds, the villagers never thought about rebelling and protesting the price of cotton prices. However, when the fish farmers take cottonseeds to feed their fish it brought in trouble to Baba who was arrested. What’s interesting about this event was the confusion to these farmers on why it was such a big deal to take the unused seeds. In Tidwell’s perspective, “You broke a rule . . . They’re afraid of that. If they let you get away with it, then other people might start breaking rules too; all kinds of rules. Then Bashiya and Cotonniere would lose control of things” (IP 99). Even though Tidwell …show more content…
However, looking at the purpose of what the pond project was to teach people how to raise fish so they can have a never-ending source of food, it might not be seen as successful. Kalambayi’s culture is not like Western culture or capitalist ideas; it’s about sharing with family and the people you help. When Chief Ilunga had to pay for his wife’s dowry, he had to heavily rely on the revenue on the harvest. However, after the harvest, he shared with his family and even Michel was given a share. It was not because he was pressured, he genuinely wanted to help these people around him. And even with these circumstances, there were positive changes: “Families were eating more protein and the upcoming harvests promised money for new clothes, school fees and medicine” (52). However, there is more to this book than the ponds: it’s revealing more problems in Kalambayi that fish ponds that cannot fix. Even if Tidwell stayed for a third year, he would still see the constant corruption of Cotonniere, the broken roads and bridges, and the many Kalambayans dying from mines and sickness. While there are still problems with Kalambayi with poverty, it widens the

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