I propose that the “darkness” that European colonizers saw in Africa was only a reflection of what they saw in themselves. By over-emphasizing “difference,” Victorian-era Europeans were able to cling to their narrow, classist notions of what constitutes “civilized society.” Staid conformity was the name of the game. White “purity” “rationality” and “civilization” existed only in contrast to African “depravity” “wildness” and “sensuality.” Where European aristocrats had conquered nature, Africans [to appropriate their use] merely languished in it.
The necessity of binary thought is a testament to the fragility of the Euro-centric notion of “civil society.” In-group cohesion and conformity was best preserved by the unexamined fear of the “dark” unknown. Representations of Africa and Africans were the perfect embodiment of this.
[Inspiration: http://www.ruffe.co.uk/jg/?page_id=96 ]