The Old Drift Themes & Motifs

Namwali Serpell
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Colonialism

Colonialism is a constant through Zambia’s history in The Old Drift. The novel begins with the first instance of colonization in Zambia, which is emblematized by the construction of the Kariba Dam at the end of “Sibilla.” The dam is a manifestation of European colonial power over both the natural landscape and the indigenous Tonga people who are displaced by the dam. The dam continues to exist through the novel and is only destroyed accidentally by the children-turned-revolutionaries. The fall of the dam results in the destruction of Zambia and the beginning of Lusaka as a new socialist city-state, suggesting that until Kariba Dam falls, contemporary Zambia is and will continue to be inextricably linked to its colonial history.

This link is also illustrated by the three families’ existence and their connection to each other. The families first encounter each other in “The Falls,” narrated...

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This section contains 2,242 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Old Drift Study Guide
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