houseboy Ferdinand Oyono begins his haunting tragedy at the end of a Cameroonian houseboy’s life. “Brother, what are we,” Toundi Onduo. Ferdinand Oyono has really done a great work with this fictional work. portrayed this in the life of Toundi when he has to be the houseboy of the Commander. Ferdinand Oyono crafts a novel about the oppression black people go through in the hands of the white colonialist. In West Africa specifically.

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Houseboythe story of an African man who from a young age served white colonizers in his native Cameroun, depicts the plight of Africans who suffered brutality and subjugation under the boot of colonial authority. It offers a glimpse into the life of an articulate African, Toundi Onduo, who was at first intoxicated by the offerings of the French, and determined to assimilate into their culture, but later realized the hypocrisy of European culture and despised its rule of his people.

Oyono uses two major themes to develop his story: Christianity and sexuality act as the most important agents of European colonial society in his short but powerful novel. The actions of the white authorities are determined through the binary between these two divergent forces and their moral inconsistencies are made plain.

In many ways, Christianity was the first wave of the European imperialist invasion.

Killed by a falling branch while he hurried to retrieve mail from his native land, he is called a martyr. Here, the story changes and a new chapter begins. Henceforth, Toundi is made increasingly aware of the hypocritical actions of the French colonialists.

As our protagonist is passed from the church to the state at the suggestion of Father Vandermeyer, Toundi finds himself within another realm of European hypocrisy. He becomes the houseboy of the Commandant, and is witness to the childish egotism and fickleness of his colonial masters.

Throughout the novel, the white settlers appear unhappy, displeased at their lot in the sad land of the heathens and uncomfortable in the heat of the African sun.

Throughout the novel the reader wonders, if these colonists are so unhappy, why do they not simply go home? The engineer hides his lust for Sophie from other Europeans, yet he is jealous of her with other Africans. Angry and ashamed, he accuses Toundi for the theft of his money and his woman; both items he treats as material commodities.

At first, she hides her relationship. Soon though, she is overtaken, and begins seeing him almost daily, kissing him even in the open afternoon sun.

Critical Analysis — Ferdinand Oyono’s Houseboy

When her thinly veiled secret is out, known seemingly to every African in town, rather than breaking off her relationship with the director, she becomes rancorous towards her servants, finding fault in all that they do and projecting her fallibilities onto them for their knowledge of her secret.

Interestingly, her troubles do not begin until after an interesting encounter with Toundi. Though previously, the Madame paid him little to no attention— his heart broken as she gazed upon the garden and had forgotten ferdiinand was there— things changed swiftly after their journey to the market.

It is no wonder the Madame turned to Moreau. This policy hohseboy, in the end though, a bold faced lie. Whether the French believed their lie or not, neither their hearts nor their country would open to include their colonial subjects. No matter the rank, education, poise, or beauty of the Africans who wished to assimilate, they remained lower even than the most unsavory and downtrodden white Frenchman. No matter what an African could do, he was still black, and could never overcome the hurdle of acceptance into French culture.


This widespread belief reveals the inherent racism underlying the entire imperial enterprise. Even if Africans adopted European ideas and assimilated into their culture, they still could not be good enough. The one character that disagrees, Jacques Salvain, the headmaster of the school, makes a scene by comparing the lack of morals in Cameroun with the lack of morals in Paris. The French policy of assimilation can be called patronizing at its very best. This tragedy, like any, gives the protagonist an opportunity to speak his peace before his time is done.

Throughout the novel, there are several ways that Africans ferdinqnd and maintain their unique cultural identities despite the oppression of external imperialistic control.

The theme of colonialism in reference to houseboy, novel by Ferdinand Oyono

Throughout the novel, Oyono emphasizes the importance of dress, names, and dialect. Africans are able to differentiate between even other native Africans by the way they dress, and it is clear when someone has adopted the ways of the whites, simply by their outfit.

Dialect is another important factor of African identity. There is a constant atmosphere of sexual tension between the native African population and their white colonial rulers. When Toundi sees the Commandant in the shower and realizes his master has not been circumcised— an important element in becoming a man in his Cameroonian tradition— he feels a pang of embarrassment. He is not embarrassed for himself, though, he is embarrassed for his master and all the other foolish whites in his land.

How could he respect a man who acted without dignity? He cannot continue as a boy, for he has become the master in his own mind. Though he was advised to flee by Kalisia— the reader screaming internally at Toundi, begging him to depart— he remains. The truth is not revealed. Inasmuch as he is led like a lamb to the slaughter, Toundi retains his pride until the end.

His humor never fades. Joking even with the sergeant who was sent to beat him, he laughs, knowing the short time he has left. Houseboy by Ferdinand Oyono offers us an interesting peek into the life of a Camerounian shortly before it declared gerdinand sovereign independence from France. It is not clear exactly when the novel is supposed to have taken place, but based on the Cameroons unique colonial history, the reader may assume that it took place during the s.

Though it is a fiction, it provides a strong African voice in a time of great turmoil. Written infour years before Cameroun achieved independence, it is a good representation of the anti-colonialist literature that was prevalent at the time in both the Cameroons and all of Africa. Cameroun, and its neighbors the anglophone North and South Cameroons, struggled to find a cohesive Cameroonian identity. Neither dictated by language, religion, family, or tribe, the three separate states ultimately united to form the United Republic of Cameroon, a nation built of negritude and the pride of being a Cameroonian.

Waveland Press,4. I really enjoyed the novel and I had a lot of fun spending some time getting into the thick of it. I would like to strike my points by asking the entire writers to make sure that the summary of oyonl books that they write to make the summary they themselves not allow someone to make except those who have a close range to their professionalised. This is an historical and social analysis of literature, nothing more.


Hoouseboy book housbeoy a source of inspiration. No matter what oynoo believe, life offers us choices and forces and forces hoouseboy live with the consequences of our decisions. Be careful not to judge the past by the present. Things are very different now.

Houseboy (novel) – Wikipedia

There are still similar issues, but we cannot assume they arise feridnand the same causes. Its realy awaresome; am a student of literature in kenya moi university n am doing this novel as my field oyonl study; thenks for boosting my knowledge on it; i like how madame is displayed in da text she depicts da ignorance of females; haha sorry for that.

I think Oyono is careful to present all the characters in the novel as equally flawed. The Madame is no more ignorant than her husband is, or even Toundi is in his affection for her.

The Madame is one of the stronger characters in the novel, in fact. At the point in history when this novel was written, Africans were endeavoring to see themselves as valuable, separate identities than their colonizers; as people. It was the beginning of Iyono The beginning of independence!

Reblogged this on tracythefashionguru’s Blog and commented: This is akind of novel with so much to say…i find out something new evey time I read it. It is a wonderful novel. Thank you for this.

What a wonderful analysis — insightful, eloquent and engaging. The above analysis is skillfully written, quite detailed and i must say very useful for for anyone interested in learning more about the novel.

However, it falls in the trap that most analysis of African literature falls in: I appreciate your feedback.

However, I am confused at your point. What overall theme did I miss? I feel you may have missed the overall theme of hoseboy analysis. The thesis is quite clear. This is a great work done, Graham. This detailed plot has been very essential to me, id failed to understand how French assimilation came into the picture,but now I figure t. This analysis will help me a lot in my exams. Thanks and God bless you.

But i think tried to tell the white men in Africa continent to return back home and those that will not go should not maltreat any African….

Critical Analysis — Ferdinand Oyono’s Houseboy | Regarding Race, Nation, and Our Future

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Husband, Father, Researcher, Bike Guy. I like to read stuff and to think about stuff and to fix stuff. Create a free website ferinand blog at WordPress. Is this article helpful?

Have a specific inquiry? Henry Houweboy August 15, It is really productive thank you. Daniel Mwakasoko November 13, Ssekajja Jacob November 22, Mustapha Aminu Muhammad November 22, hoyseboy I would like to strike my points by asking the entire writers to make sure that the summary of the books that they write to make the summary they themselves not allow someone to make except those who have a close range to their professionalised Reply.

Akafia Sammy January 17,