Chinua Achebe delivered "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" as a public lecture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1974.
Later on, in his preface to that book, Achebe notes that the great African American W.E.B. Du Bois wrote in The Souls Of Black Folk that "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the colour line."
Achebe points out that Du Bois wrote that sentence in 1903, only one year after Conrad wrote "Heart of Darkness."
Achebe continues, "This chronology is of the utmost importance. Therefore the defence sometimes proffered: that Conrad should not be judged by the standards of later times; that racism had not become an issue in the world when he wrote his famous African novel, will have to clarify whose world it is talking about."
Achebe wrote in his essay, "Joseph Conrad was a thorouhgoing racist. That this simple truth is glossed over in criticisms of his work is due to the fact that white racism against Africa is such a normal way of thinking that its manifestations go completely unremarked."
He also wrote, "Heart of Darkness projects the image of Africa as "the other world," the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization, a place where man's vaunted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant bestiality."
Do you agree with Chinua Achebe?
Conrad "if anything, is less charitable to the Europeans in the story than he is to the natives, that the point of the story is to ridicule Europe's civilizing mission in Africa."