Privacy of Black East
It will never be fair to say that “Season of Migration to the North” tackles the conflict between the East and the West, as it highlights the issue without being limited to it. It is also not an extension for a handful of previous works, concerned with the same issue. The essential difference stems from two overlapping and connected facts that must be heeded, while taking their impact into account. The first of these is related to the privacy of the “Black East” in the novel of the Sudanese ‘Tayeb Salih’ (1929 – 2009), in other words, the African Arab East that is different from Egyptian and Lebanese Easts. As for the second fact, it revolves around the character of ‘Mustafa Saeed’, the genius who breaks through the West, symbolized in its most known Capital, “London”, as if the warrior who is coming for reprisal, overwhelmed by a painful history of compulsion and exploitation which has an effect on his people. He makes of English women fortresses to invade, until he meets a special woman, ‘Jane Mores’, who moves him from the scene of successive thunderous triumphs to the pit of recession, defense and defeat, until he ends with failure, murder and imprisonment. After this, he returns to his fountainhead and roots, searching for purity of soul and stability of body.
‘Tayeb’ is distinguished by depicting the conflict through two characters that belong to the same camp: ‘Mustafa Saeed’ and the narrator. They are the nearest to two accompanied factors in the “succession race”. This emphasizes the branching dimensions of the issue that still extends and exists, while touching upon the relative diversity in the perspectives, views and tools of assessment and analysis. It is not an individual issue that has to do with ‘Mustafa Saeed’ solely and that ends with him. It is not a generational phase which is recessively felt under some formal variables. Rather, it is a deeper, and more effective and serious issue than it may look from the outset. It takes a dissimilar shape, while constants remain still.
The blazing violent conflict of the novel does secrete neither a winner nor a defeated. The examined alternate will not be the approval of the saying of the English poet ‘Rudyard Kipling’ (1865 – 1936) that “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”. Things are not and cannot be the same like this! This is because the desired real success is to meet through just and clear foundations, away from fragile reconciliation and fake concoction. The optimal entry for consistence and harmony lies in the awareness of the two parties of the reality of the position they occupy on the civilizational and cultural map, in addition to recognizing the privacy of each other, on one hand, and understanding the terms of the other’s privacy, on another.
As a matter of fact, life is nothing but a set of binaries that surpass the dual conflict between East and West. Many questions are imposed by the novel to embed this mastering idea. This includes the suffering of the poor and simple people during the times of colonization and independence, the hegemony of masculine values that never grant woman her human rights, in addition to the crisis of relatively obtainable financial upgrading in the face of obstacles that characterize the process of cognitive change, associated with social values and traditions and the terms that form the cultural system that govern the pace of society.
Differing on or agreeing with the political and economic efforts of ‘Mustafa Saeed’ is not so important, as the crisis that led to the tragedy has nothing to do with the scientific theories and curricula. ‘Saeed’ goes to the Capital of invading colonizers as an invader. The conflict he wades pivots around the desire to revenge, according to his own way: “Indeed, my gentlemen, I have come to your locality as an invader. This is a drop of the poison you injected in the veins of history. I am not an Othello, Othello was a lie”.
The [invader] ‘Mustafa Saeed’ faces an army of girls and ladies. He captures them to compensate for all the losses his people suffered from in other domains. Women fall upon him as “flies”, according to the description of one of his old students. During ‘Saeed’s’ trial, the Public Prosecutor points out to some of his victims, holding him responsible for the suicide of ‘Anne Himend’, ‘Shilla Greenwood’ and ‘Isabella Simore’, as well as the crime of intentional murder of his wife ‘Jane Mores’.
Imprisonment for seven years is a deserved, yet mitigated, punishment for ‘Mustafa Saeed’. What the judge said is an important evaluation, which goes beyond the issue of a murderer, tried before him, to a more holistic conflict. The judge said: “Mr. Mustafa Saeed: in spite of your scientific superiority, you are a stupid man! You have a dark spot in your spiritual composition. Therefore, you consumed the noblest power God grants humans: the power of love”.
But what is the secret behind “spiritual stupidity” that disperses the power of love? Is it an individual characteristic that is associated with ‘Saeed’ alone, or the matter is more complicated and expansive and indicates the subjective conflict, igniting between two cultures and two civilizations? The words of attorney ‘Maxwell Festerkin’ supplement those of the Judge and are close to the sound vision, yet, they do not attain it. “Mustafa Saeed, dear Jury, is a noble man, whose mind absorbed the civilization of the West that broke his heart”, said the attorney.
The novel does not highlight the years of jail nor stop before the march of ‘Saeed’ after being released until he settles in the village in which, his life journey ends.
‘Saeed’ drowns, but the issue he is connected to never fades. He is not like the narrator, in terms of expressing the extension, according to new variables and deliverables: “I start from the point from which ‘Mustafa Saeed’ ended. Yet, he made a choice, at least, and I chose nothing”.
There is a notebook in the library of ‘Saeed’, its first page is titled “Story of My Life”, and there is nothing else, except for an acknowledgment that is worthy of long consideration. Its few words introduce the essence of the crisis to be studied: “For those who see by one eye, speak by a single tongue, and see things as black or white, eastern or western”.
Life is not lived by one eye and a single tongue. The fatal solitary look sums the world up in the black and the white, the East or the West. Rescue lies in the variety of eyes, tongues and colors, because life expands, or must expand, for East and West together, under the umbrella of human belonging that traverses races and cultures.