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Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature

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Ngugi describes this book as "a summary of some of the issues in which I have been passionately involved for the last twenty years of my practice in fiction, theatre, criticism and in the teaching of literature. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Europe stole art treasures from Africa to decorate their houses and museums; in the twentieth century Europe is stealing Ngugi describes this book as "a summary of some of the issues in which I have been passionately involved for the last twenty years of my practice in fiction, theatre, criticism and in the teaching of literature. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Europe stole art treasures from Africa to decorate their houses and museums; in the twentieth century Europe is stealing the treasures of the mind to enrich their languages and cultures...." Contents Acknowledgements Preface A Statement Introduction : Towards the Universal Language of Struggle 1. The Language of African Literature 2. The Language of African Theatre 3. The Language of African Fiction 4. The Quest for Relevance Index


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Ngugi describes this book as "a summary of some of the issues in which I have been passionately involved for the last twenty years of my practice in fiction, theatre, criticism and in the teaching of literature. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Europe stole art treasures from Africa to decorate their houses and museums; in the twentieth century Europe is stealing Ngugi describes this book as "a summary of some of the issues in which I have been passionately involved for the last twenty years of my practice in fiction, theatre, criticism and in the teaching of literature. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Europe stole art treasures from Africa to decorate their houses and museums; in the twentieth century Europe is stealing the treasures of the mind to enrich their languages and cultures...." Contents Acknowledgements Preface A Statement Introduction : Towards the Universal Language of Struggle 1. The Language of African Literature 2. The Language of African Theatre 3. The Language of African Fiction 4. The Quest for Relevance Index

30 review for Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rowena

    “Education, far from giving people the confidence in their ability and capacities to overcome obstacles or to become masters of the laws governing external nature as human beings, tends to make them feel their inadequacies, their weaknesses and their incapacities in the face of reality; and their inability to do anything about the conditions governing their lives.”- Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Decolonising the Mind I’ve never seen colonialism described as succinctly as in the following passage: “The rea “Education, far from giving people the confidence in their ability and capacities to overcome obstacles or to become masters of the laws governing external nature as human beings, tends to make them feel their inadequacies, their weaknesses and their incapacities in the face of reality; and their inability to do anything about the conditions governing their lives.”- Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Decolonising the Mind I’ve never seen colonialism described as succinctly as in the following passage: “The real aim of colonialism was to control the people’s wealth: what they produced, how they produced it, and how it was distributed; to control, in other words, the entire realm of the language of real life. Colonialism imposed its control of the social production of wealth through military conquest and subsequent political dictatorship. But its most important area of domination was the mental universe of the colonised, the control through culture, of how people perceived themselves and their relationship to the world.” I read this book with my experiences in Africa, conversations with my relatives and friends, and my education at the back of my mind. Trying to make sense of history and my place in it made this book invaluable to me, and helped clarify and reiterate a lot of things. The more I read books on Africa, be they about art, language, history, or politics, the more I’m amazed how the continent is seen, in many people’s minds, as a homogeneous country. This passive thinking really masks the complexity of issues in the continent. Even without colonialism Africa would have been quite intricate but colonialism has truly caused mayhem in the entire continent. And in many ways, language is one of the biggest weapons the colonialists used to do so. I like wa Thiong’o a lot. Not only is he a great writer, but it’s also clear he is a very passionate person with a lot of love for his country, his continent and his language, and a great advocate for the traditional arts. He is very blunt and I admire that a lot. Nobody is safe from his criticism, even a few of my personal favourites such as Achebe, Soyinka, Cesaire. In a sense he thinks they were brainwashed for putting the language of the colonizers on a pedestal. I think it’s an interesting argument to be had but it’s hard for me to pick a side because I’m admittedly colonized myself and English-dominant, although it’s not my first language. I found it useful to read wa Thiong’o’s perspective regardless. And wa Thiongo’s perspective is important. He grew up during colonialism after all, so he, unlike me, had the opportunity to study in his native language and unfortunately had to endure being forced to assimilate into the English language.He details how the British tried to suppress local languages in Kenya, how they arrested those who tried to encourage cultural proliferation, and controlled the gathering of people in places. He sees the differences in himself and his society before and after English language education was forced on him, and his explanations and insights are very precise and often personal. wa Thiong’o is very thorough in how he discusses the role of language as a carrier and transmitter of culture, and what happens when that language is taken away from people. This is such a common story, not just in Africa but even here in Canada, and I think we’re beginning to understand just how damaging it is to suppress and devalue language. In what planet does it make sense that a Kenyan student in colonial Kenya would be punished for speaking Gikuyu or Swahili instead of English? Personally I remember how I was often treated better than my cousins just because I could speak English and they couldn’t; I learned early on how language can be elitist: “I believe that my writing in Gikuyu language, a Kenyan language, an African language, is part and parcel of the anti-imperialist struggles of Kenyan and African peoples. In schools and universities our Kenyan languages– that is the languages of the many nationalities which make up Kenya– were associated with negative qualities of backwardness, underdevelopment, humiliation and punishment.” Another great thing about wa Thing’o is how he respects the peasantry (his choice of word). The other day I was reading about the Third Estate in France during the 19th Century revolution and this reminded me of how in Africa the peasantry are the majority, and that’s where the culture comes from. Who makes the oral stories, who upholds the culture? It’s nice to see the peasantry being accredited with maintaining culture and tradition: “These languages, these national heritages of Africa, were kept alive by the peasantry. The peasantry saw no contradiction between speaking their own mother tongues and belonging to a larger national or continental geography. They saw no necessary antagonistic contradiction between belonging to their immediate nationality, to their multinational state along the Berlin-drawn boundaries, and to Africa on the whole.” I was struck by the violence caused by colonialism. Colonialism was celebrated, and that’s the world I grew up in: gratitude to the colonialists for “rescuing” us. But what we know now is that it was very very violent and the wounds are still there. If, like wa Thiong’o said, in 1984 the president of the West German Federal Council visited Togo in order to celebrate the centennial of Germany establishing Togo as a German colony, "to commemorate not the resistance to colonisation but the glory of colonisation,” then clearly we haven’t learned much and dialogue still needs to be had. The constant unlearning, the decolonizing, that needs to be done because we were lied to, is something that I thought of throughout this book. And it’s only now that I’m realizing in more detail just how horrific colonialism was, just how much we’ve lost. What I aim to do myself, how I aim to decolonize my own mind, is by reading more of my history. I’ve also been thinking about how I’ve been influenced by other cultures so I wonder how far I can be decolonized. This got me thinking about globalization and how that has affected us, I would be interested to hear Thiong’o’s thoughts on this. This is definitely a must-read for everyone, there is so much we don’t know or realize about the impact of the actions of those who came before us, and this is a great start.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Warwick

    Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o had already published four acclaimed novels in English when, in 1977, he gave up the language as a vehicle for fiction. A few years later he published this polemic, which he said would be his last writing in English in any genre. Consequently, he's now probably even more famous among sociolinguists than students of literature, because Decolonising the Mind is a rare example of a top practitioner setting out a total rationale, complete with backstory and running examples, of the Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o had already published four acclaimed novels in English when, in 1977, he gave up the language as a vehicle for fiction. A few years later he published this polemic, which he said would be his last writing in English in any genre. Consequently, he's now probably even more famous among sociolinguists than students of literature, because Decolonising the Mind is a rare example of a top practitioner setting out a total rationale, complete with backstory and running examples, of the political and cultural implications of choosing one language over another. It would be possible to argue on purely artistic grounds that a local language is simply better at describing certain things – the rhythms of daily life, say, or regional wildlife – than another. But what makes Ngũgĩ's argument so powerful is that his grounds are not artistic, but political. Writing in Kikuyu may give him access to new and interesting aesthetic effects, but that's not why he does it – he does it to resist cultural appropriation and to target a more primary audience. There's always been a big irony in literature from former colonies that uses a colonial language – what Ngũgĩ calls ‘Afro-European’ literature, a useful term that I'm happy to adopt. Abroad, it's often praised in proportion to how well it shows us the details of different, alien lives, and yet it's obviously aimed at us, not them: the people described are often exactly those excluded from reading it. Chinua Achebe's descriptions of yam farmers in Nigeria will rarely be read by yam farmers in Nigeria, because most of them can't read English. Ngũgĩ had a crisis about this after writing his third novel, A Grain of Wheat (still the only one of his that I've so far read). I knew whom I was writing about but whom was I writing for? The peasants whose struggles fed the novel would never read it. There's an obvious answer, of course, which is that people write in order to communicate ideas, and writing in a major world language communicates your ideas more widely than doing so in a small regional language. Six or seven million people speak Kikuyu, whereas four hundred million speak English natively and probably almost as many again as a second language. The implications of this are not just remunerative – though that's no small consideration – they're also practical, if you're interested in influencing bigger audiences. Nevertheless, for Ngũgĩ this is an argument for having a better translation culture, not for the abandonment of a writer's native language. The attempt to wrangle African languages into English has been invigorating and transformative for English – one thinks of Amos Tutuola or Ben Okri – but, at the end of the day, why the hell should we be benefitting at the expense of other languages? ‘We cannot have our cake and eat it,’ he says. Why, we may ask, should an African writer, or any writer, become so obsessed by taking from his mother-tongue to enrich other tongues? It's a fair point. For Ngũgĩ, there's little difference between a postcolonial English enriching itself from African languages, and a colonial England enriching itself from African labour or resources. The problem is circular, because the lack of literatures in many smaller languages leads to an assumption, even from native speakers, that they are unable to support a literature, let alone a world literature. But if addressing that misconception is not the job of writers, whose job is it? We African writers are bound by our calling to do for our languages what Spencer, Milton and Shakespeare did for English; what Pushkin and Tolstoy did for Russian; indeed what all writers in world history have done for their languages by meeting the challenge of creating a literature in them, which process later opens the languages for philosophy, science, technology and all the other areas of human creative endeavours. As an English-speaker, one reads this book with, first of all, a renewed sense of gratitude that so many writers have in fact chosen to write in English, along with a troubling re-evaluation of why they felt it was necessary to do so. At the very least everyone should agree that more translated fiction should be out there, and not just coming from the major languages. Ngũgĩ is one of the few big writers putting his money where his mouth is by writing only in his native tongue, but even he's had to make concessions: his major work, Wizard of the Crow (Mũrogi wa Kagogo), was translated into English by Ngũgĩ himself, so he did actually write the text of the English novel that everyone's reading. If that's not having your cake and eating it, I'm not sure what is.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Zanna

    In this work Ngugi wa Thiong'o bids farewell to his practice of writing in English, adding that he hopes translation will enable him to continue to communicate with all. He then explains the passionate reasoning behind his belief in the use of African languages by African writers.I have come to realise more and more that work, any work, even literary creative work, is not the result of an individual genius but the result of a collective effort Taking as a founding principle that imperialism and i In this work Ngugi wa Thiong'o bids farewell to his practice of writing in English, adding that he hopes translation will enable him to continue to communicate with all. He then explains the passionate reasoning behind his belief in the use of African languages by African writers.I have come to realise more and more that work, any work, even literary creative work, is not the result of an individual genius but the result of a collective effort Taking as a founding principle that imperialism and its internal allies will never develop Africa, he critiques the notion that tribal conflict is the source of discord in Kenya and across the continent (invariables like biological nationality cannot be the true source of conflict, which would be eternal and unchanging if that were the case, he says). Rather, the divide and rule practices of colonialism are at the root of such conflict. He identifies two traditions of thought in Kenya: the imperialist tradition of the international bourgeoisie and 'flag waving native ruling classes' and subjugation of the people enforced by police boots, barbed wire, clergy & judiciary, supported by state intellectuals AND the resistance tradition of the working people/peasantry and 'patriotic' petty-bougeoisie/middle class including students and intellectuals, supporting all nationalities in the area against imperialist domination. Imperialism is the monopolistic and parasitic rule of consolidated finance capital. The freedom for Western finance capital to go on stealing from the working people of the global south is maintained by conventional and nuclear weapons, but more importantly by 'the cultural bomb' that annihilates the self belief and solidarity of the people. Ngugi wa Thiong'o explains that language allows us to define ourselves in relation to our national and social environment: our capacity to confront the world creatively is dependant on how those images [of nature and nurture formed by the dynamic process of history & culture reflecting each other] correspond or not to that reality, how they distort or clarify the reality of our struggles He describes his experience of learning-through-storytelling alongside everyday communication and shared experience in his mother tongue, Gikuyu, and how the harmony of his learning life was broken in colonial schools, where speaking Gikuyu was punished while all achievement in English was rewarded and prioritised. Native languages are associated by colonial education with low status, humiliation, corporal punishment, stupidity and barbarism. For the African child in this context, thought itself takes the visible form of a foreign language, and thus she feels disassociated from her natural and social environment. Ngugi wa Thiong'o explains that culture is transmitted not through language in universality but in its particularity of a specific social/historical context. The way English is used in African countries is not the same as the way it is used in Scandinavian countries as a tool of communication, but as an instrument of control. Literature written by Africans in European languages by anti-imperial petty bourgeois authors articulated resistance to racist European colonisation and drew on African cultures and histories to give that class self-confidence. This work armed uprisings inspired by political awakening and drew stamina and substance from proverbs and fables of the peasantry, helping struggles for independence. But, as neo-colonial/pro-imperial governments gained power this literature became disiullsioned and cynical. Its authors wanted to communicate with a working class/peasant (WC/P) audience but they were hampered by their use of Euro languages. They created WC/P characters who spoke English and projected their own evasive self-contemplation, existential anguish and crises of identity onto them, falsifying historical processes and realities. While African authors were worrying about a crisis of identity in African literature and accepting (with some exceptions) the 'fatalistic logic' of linguistic Europeanization of African cultural output, the very neo-col rulers they were haranguing in their books were busy issuing 'distortions, dictatorial directives, museum-type fossils paraded as African culture, feudalistic ideology, superstitions and lies' in the languages of the WC/P! So the result of colonial education, as intended, is to cut off communication between petty-bourgeois intellectuals and their intended audience. Ngugi wa Thiong'o delineates a minor tradition (praising its great talents such as Achebe, Armah etc and works) of Afro-European literature, which he says will last as long as neo-colonial rule. Since writing in Gikuyu he has been asked why he chose to do so by all kinds of people. Some academics have asked 'why have you abandoned us?' But Gikuyu is his mother tongue! This reversal of common sense relates directly to other upside-down (thanks Fela Kuti) logics of imperialism: Africa enriches Europe, but Africa is made to believe that Europe needs to rescue it from poverty. Africa's natural and human resources continue to develop Europe and America, but Africa is made to feel grateful for aid from those quarters that still sit on the back of the continent I love the section on African theatre. Colonialism pretends there is no tradition of African theatre, but is it has a long and deep heritage in Kenya, where it was destroyed by the British (any free public gathering is dangeous to authoritarian domination). Part of this tradition was the concept of 'empty space' among the people where theatre took place. Colonialism attempted to destroy this by confining that space in community halls, proscenium theatres and even in prisons and detainment camps where inmates were encouraged to produce neo-colonial and anti- Mau-Mau propaganda plays. Radio drama was also encouraged in which the African as clown was ridiculed: laugh at your own stupidity and simplicity, forget about all this freedom nonsense! Anti-imperial petty-bourgeois writers tried to break from colonial control by taking control of the Kenyan National Theatre, touring productions of anti-colonial plays, but these were often hampered by the use of English and confinement within walls - this approach brings culture to the people rather than involving them in its creation. By contrast, his production of I Will Marry When I Want in Kamiriithu was defined and shaped by the decision to use Gikuyu, which forced a discussion with the peasants and factory workers about the use of language and about the language of theatre. Perfection of an art form as a process with a shared history is, Nguigi wa Thiong'o points out, in opposition to the conventional secrecy of rehearsals culminating in a presentation intended to cause amazement and a sense of 'wow, I couldn't do that'. This approach is in keeping with alienating bourgeois education which is a process of weakening people, making them feel incapable, mystifying knowledge. It produces 'a gallery of active stars and an undifferentiated mass of grateful admirers'. Those involved in the Kamiriithu project talked about how it made them feel valuable and integral, how it raised their awareness. The play's license was withdrawn and its writer incarcerated... Another example of the upside down logic of imperialism and capitalism generally is the possibility of development it offers and then makes impossible . The arrival of the printing press in Kenya was accompanied by the familiar rhetoric of spreading education and culture and dispelling African awe of nature and superstition, but with heavy censorship and careful selection it really pushed a message of subserviance via Christianity, and increased awe of the whip/gun-wielding master. Writing novels in a neo-colonial context meets several obstacles, one of which is that reality is often beyond satire in its grim absurdity. Another is the lack of libraries and book shops in rural areas and the corresponding excuse 'the people are poor and illiterate so they don't need libraries and bookshops'. Yet Ngugi's first book in Gikuyu sold; it was read by literate community members aloud at gatherings, in bars, it was embraced. Build it and they will come... Finally Ngugi wa Thiong'o addresses the question of relevance and the creation of appropriate education programs. He argues that orature, rooted in WC/P sources of anti-imperial resistance should be centred in Kenyan schooling. Historically, he points out, the great Western humanist authors like Shakespeare, Austen etc who provide incisive comment on bourgeois culture have been treated as if the only themes they dealt with were universal love, fear, birth, death etc. Western education, in my experience, has the same imbalance, universalising and depoliticising the personal, diminishing the particularity of history. Many African writers have expressed concern to enrich Western literature by making African wisdom accessible and translatable - Ngugi asks why they do not centre the African tradition and seek to enrich that with riches from foreign cultures. He comments on the commitment fellow Kenyan authors expressed (in an advocacy document) not to replace English chavinism with national chauvinism, centring Kenyan orature and literature but including all African and diasporic writing, speaking of the need to introduce the Kenyan child to the world context of black experience. Latin American and Asian literatures would also be studied, with Euro-American not excluded but perhaps lowest in priority. The search for new directions in language, literature, theatre poetry, fiction and scholarly studies in Africa is part and parcel of the overall struggles of African people against imperialism in its neo-colonial stage. It is part of that struggle for that world in which my health is not dependent on another's leprosy, my cleanliness not on another's maggot-ridden body, and my humanity not on the buried humanity of others I loved reading this and agreed with it strongly, but I would like to write a few words in defence of contemporary African authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who write in English. I want to humbly suggest that the paths to decolonisation may be as many and various as the people in need of it (noting that the distinction between coloniser and colonised is blurred, not least by class conditions) and that the uses of literature are also many and various (noting that the distinction between creator and audience is blurred). Perhaps my colonisation and indoctrination into individualism is speaking, but it seems plausible that Ngugi's Marxist conception of literature has some limitations? I look forward to reading more about this subject and how thought in the area has developed.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Arie

    Essential reading. And re-reading. I couldn't even think about quoting this after 30 or so pages, just had to read and read - but it needs to be re-read. "It is the final triumph of a system of domination when the dominated start singing its virtues" (page 20) "The European missionary believed too much in his mission of conquest not to communicate it is the languages most readily available to the people: the African writer believes too much in "African literature" to write it in those ethnic, divis Essential reading. And re-reading. I couldn't even think about quoting this after 30 or so pages, just had to read and read - but it needs to be re-read. "It is the final triumph of a system of domination when the dominated start singing its virtues" (page 20) "The European missionary believed too much in his mission of conquest not to communicate it is the languages most readily available to the people: the African writer believes too much in "African literature" to write it in those ethnic, divisive and under-developed languages of the peasantry!" (page 26) "What is the difference between a politician who says Africa cannot do without imperialism and the writer who says Africa cannot do without European languages?" (page 26) "The very fact that what common sense dictates in the literary practice of other cultures is being questioned in an African writer is a measure of how far colonialism has distorted the view of African realities." (page 27)"

  5. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Decolonizing the Mind is integral, I think, to understanding anti-colonialist struggles. The western world understands colonialism in terms of the most visible aspects of a nation, namely its leadership. People fail to recognize the long-term effects of colonialism such as widespread poverty. Decolonizing the Mind reminds us of another of these aftereffects, specifically, the domination of language by the Western World. In a sense, the language barrier has enabled social apartheid where legal se Decolonizing the Mind is integral, I think, to understanding anti-colonialist struggles. The western world understands colonialism in terms of the most visible aspects of a nation, namely its leadership. People fail to recognize the long-term effects of colonialism such as widespread poverty. Decolonizing the Mind reminds us of another of these aftereffects, specifically, the domination of language by the Western World. In a sense, the language barrier has enabled social apartheid where legal separation was considered anachronistic. By dominating African languages, and asserting the superiority of European ones over them, Western nations did (and African administrations still do) perpetuate a system where educated whites rise to the highest social strata while native Africans are resigned to the working classes and peasantry. This domination of language has effectively prevented any native African from rising into intellectual ranks, because, as Ngũgĩ puts it, the use European languages splits African soul in two, forcing him to relinquish his roots if he wishes to climb the social ladder.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Monika

    "But the search for new directions in language, literature, theatre, poetry, fiction and scholarly studies in Africa is part and parcel of the overall struggles of African people against imperialism in its neocolonial stage. It is part of that struggle for that world, in which my health is not dependent on another's leprosy; my cleanliness not on another's maggot-ridden body; and my humanity not on the buried humanity of others." Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language "But the search for new directions in language, literature, theatre, poetry, fiction and scholarly studies in Africa is part and parcel of the overall struggles of African people against imperialism in its neocolonial stage. It is part of that struggle for that world, in which my health is not dependent on another's leprosy; my cleanliness not on another's maggot-ridden body; and my humanity not on the buried humanity of others." Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature is a series of essays which discusses about language and the role it plays in history, culture, literature and the lives of its people. The deeply enmeshed reality of linguistic imperialism demarcated uniformity: be it the uniformity of identity, of culture or of language. Seen from a colonial stance, it turned children into "witchhunters" through its need of acceptance. Our languages serve as our reflection. The clearer our sense of identity, the more 'atrociously' visible we will be for the world, but the closer we will feel with our surrounding. Perhaps, as can be digged out from the essays, so away are we from our mother tongue that we no longer feel its absence. The sense of belongingness is now gone. Barring the exceptions, as Ngugi said, only the peasantries and working classes compendiate the African languages. The sense of African identity and African belongingness was snatched away to be replaced by those of the Westerners. It became so deeply rooted that the heterogeneous identity failed to probe through the works of art. In this process, African novels were also affected. The control of "the printing press, the publishing houses and the educational context" as well as the rise of African universities and colleges deepened the problems further. He then talked about his struggle of writing in Gikuyu language, from tonal variations to the limitations of the prevailing orthography and the surprising reception of his works in Gikuyu. "How we see a thing even with our eyes is very much dependent on where we stand in relationship to it." The eyes of imperialism has blinded our other world views and is driving us to homogenised thinking, which, in turn, is taking away our ability and closeness to our surrounding.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alba Gallego

    I had the pleasure to read part of this work a few months ago for my Postcolonial Literature class and had been meaning to read the whole of it ever since. Now that I found some time to do it, I gotta say this is a MUST for anyone interested in the effects of colonization in African literature, fiction and theatre. Very thought-provoking and even more intense knowing this was actually Thiong'o's way of saying goodbye to writing in English. I had the pleasure to read part of this work a few months ago for my Postcolonial Literature class and had been meaning to read the whole of it ever since. Now that I found some time to do it, I gotta say this is a MUST for anyone interested in the effects of colonization in African literature, fiction and theatre. Very thought-provoking and even more intense knowing this was actually Thiong'o's way of saying goodbye to writing in English.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell Walker

    A phenomenal text for all educators to read, especially those wishing to teach English and/or Drama!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    An amazing book by a Kenyan author on understanding the psychology of exploitation and oppression by colonialism and imperialism. Its focus is on the exploitation of Africans by Europeans through the domination of culture, but its lessons are applicable to the struggles of all people. It's a must read. I learned about it from a Palestinian activist visiting the United States. An amazing book by a Kenyan author on understanding the psychology of exploitation and oppression by colonialism and imperialism. Its focus is on the exploitation of Africans by Europeans through the domination of culture, but its lessons are applicable to the struggles of all people. It's a must read. I learned about it from a Palestinian activist visiting the United States.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tinea

    God bless this man. Wow. Real review to come.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alejandro Teruel

    For me, the least attractive parts of this 1981 book are its occasional descents into stock, strident, marxist-inspired, antiimperialist cant:I shall look at the African realities as they are affected by the great struggle between the two mutually opposed forces in Africa today: an imperialist tradition on one hand, and a resistance tradition on the other. The imperialist tradition in Africa is today maintained by the international bourgeoisie using the multinational and of course the flag-wavin For me, the least attractive parts of this 1981 book are its occasional descents into stock, strident, marxist-inspired, antiimperialist cant:I shall look at the African realities as they are affected by the great struggle between the two mutually opposed forces in Africa today: an imperialist tradition on one hand, and a resistance tradition on the other. The imperialist tradition in Africa is today maintained by the international bourgeoisie using the multinational and of course the flag-waving native ruling classes. The economic and political dependence of this African neo-colonial bourgeoisie is reflected in its culture of apemanship and parrotry enforced on a restive population through police boots; barbed wire, a gowned clergy and judiciary; their ideas are spread by a corpus of state intellectuals, the academic and journalistic laureates of the neo-colonial establishment. The resistance tradition is being carried out by the working people (the peasantry and the proletariat) aided by patriotic students, intellectuals (academic and non-academic), soldiers and other progressive elements of the petty middle class. The wonder of the book is that it manages to transcend such passages by interweaving the author’s personal experiences and an analysis of African literature and focusing on African authors’ growing realization of the implications of the decision they faced in choosing whether to write in their native, African language or in the European language imposed on them in their colonial past. This choice of language is a reflection of cultures brought to a crucial crossroads. On the one hand, African languages were, and are, the rich linguistic repositories of colloquial, everyday life and traditions, while the European languages were the languages of school, higher education, and technology. Should the African writer attempt to carve out a niche Anglo-African or Franco-African literature, a literature which might appeal to wider, foreign audiences but be would out of the reach of most of his country men, or should the African writer develop a literature for his country men even if this meant erecting higher barriers to reach world-wide audiences? By the time Ngugi wa Thion’o wrote this book he had no doubts about the path to take, he saw renouncing to Gikuyu as tantamount to alienating himself, and the people he most identified with from their common cultural heritage:The choice of language and the use to which language is put is central to a people's definition of themselves in relation to their natural and social environment, indeed in relation to the entire universe. Hence language has always been at the heart of the two contending social forces in the Africa of the twentieth century.He puts it even more bluntly, as an attempt to colonialize minds -hence the title of the book:The effect of a cultural bomb is to annihilate a people's belief in their names, in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves. It makes them see their past as one wasteland of non-achievement and it makes them want to distance themselves from that wasteland. It makes them want to identify with that which is furthest removed from themselves; for instance, with other peoples' languages rather than their own.It is an interesting political twist on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis with Owellian overtones:In my view language was the most important vehicle through which [the power of imperialism] fascinated and held the soul prisoner.. The bullet was the means of the physical subjugation. Language was the means of the spiritual subjugation.Thiong’o points out that he first became aware of the key question, What is African Literature, when this was stated in a 1962 conference in Kampala, Uganda:The debate which followed was animated: Was it literature about Africa or about the African experience? Was it literature written by Africans? What about a non African who wrote about Africa: did his work qualify as African literature? What if an African set his work in Greenland: did that qualify as African literature? Or were African languages the criteria? OK: what about Arabic, was it not foreign to Africa? What about French and English, which had become African, languages? What if a European wrote about Europe in an African language? If ... if … if ... this or that, except the issue: the domination of our languages and cultures by those of imperialist Europe: in any case there was no Fagunwa or Shabaan Robert or any writer in African languages to bring the conference down from the realms of evasive abstractions. The question was never seriously asked: did what we wrote qualify as African literature?He disapproving quotes a 1964 speech by Chinua Achebe; Is it right that a man should abandon his mother tongue for someone else's? It looks like a dreadful betrayal and produces a guilty feeling. But for me there is no other choice. I have been given the. language and I intend to use it.Ngugi WaThiong’o is an eloquent and persuasive writer and his personal account of how he came to renounce English as his primary writing language is fascinating. The heart of this book is its first chapter, aptly titled The Language of African Literature from which all the previous quotes are taken. But the next two chapters, The Language of African Theatre and The Language of African Fiction, particularly the first of the two are just as masterful and interesting. It is a measure of Thion’o stature as a writer that this book is still of interest, not least because it has elements with which other subjugated nations and peoples or language minorities can clearly identify. This covers not only Amerindians or First Nation People, aboriginal australians, Maories, Indians but also writers from minority immigrant cultures growing up between ancestral Yiddish, Chinese, Hispanic, Arab, Iranian roots and the majority culture in the US, Europe, Brazil or whatever, Catalans and Galicians in Spain, not to mention emigré writers. In the end we do not think less of Joseph Conrad or R.K. Narayan for choosing to write in English, Milan Kundera for writing some of his work in French or Vladimir Nabokov in English, Thomas Mann for continuing to write in German while in exile in the US, Isaac Bashevis Singer in Yiddish or Hannah Arendt for choosing to write some of her books in German and others in English. However the importance of language considered as a key part of a personal, and cultural identity cannot be dismissed out of hand, as the politically motivated revivals of such languages as Norwegian, Hebrew or Irish have shown.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mely

    Subway book because Wizard of the Crow is too heavy for the commute. First reread in about fifteen years. So far I've discovered I completely misremembered at least one major point: wa'Thiong'o, far from being hostile about the translation of his work into English, welcomes it as a continued communication. He just refuses to make English his primary language of literary communication. This discovery is not particularly surprising, given how I've seen other white people misread and miscomprehend si Subway book because Wizard of the Crow is too heavy for the commute. First reread in about fifteen years. So far I've discovered I completely misremembered at least one major point: wa'Thiong'o, far from being hostile about the translation of his work into English, welcomes it as a continued communication. He just refuses to make English his primary language of literary communication. This discovery is not particularly surprising, given how I've seen other white people misread and miscomprehend similarly clear statements of intent from people of color in discussions of race. -- Finished reread. I expect the first time I read it, I mainly wrestled with the question of literatures in African vs. English languages, the reconstruction of an Afro-centric canon, and what that might mean for a white woman in the US, as well as the chapters on the construction of the novel; this time I was fascinated by the depiction of the democratic development of theater, enabled by the shift from English to Gikuyu. Notes for eventual review: - wa Thiong'o's postcolonialism draws much of its theoretical basis from Marxism, although he is stronger on feminism (if not heterocentrism) than most of the base Marxist source texts - Marxism's great gift to cultural studies is the demystification of the economic basis of cultural practices (including but not limited to art and education). Be wary when Marxists mystify key steps in liberation (i.e., race will fall away after the revolution), a problem wa Thiong'o mostly avoids; I was delighted with his focus on concrete historical details.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nikhil

    A collection of insightful essays about how to define self and reconstruct a system of knowledge in the aftermath of colonialism, and the role language, form, and content of literature has to play in this process. The main arguments are as follows: (1) African/post colonial literature should reflect the ideas, lives, language, sounds, thoughts of the people who live there; (2) this is the only way for these literatures to revitalize the consciousness of formerly colonized peoples and ensure that A collection of insightful essays about how to define self and reconstruct a system of knowledge in the aftermath of colonialism, and the role language, form, and content of literature has to play in this process. The main arguments are as follows: (1) African/post colonial literature should reflect the ideas, lives, language, sounds, thoughts of the people who live there; (2) this is the only way for these literatures to revitalize the consciousness of formerly colonized peoples and ensure that post colonial peoples cease to define themselves in relation to a moribund Europe; (3) to do this these literatures have to be in native languages, and reflect native literary forms/content/production processes. A natural corollary is that the post colony must reject the language of the colonizer and reemphasize learning and thought in native languages. Ngugi is a skilled rhetorician and writer, and these essays are no exception. A highlight is when he makes the point that writings by Africans in European languages constitute Afro-European literature, and that missionaries/colonizers/dictators are experts in African language requiring that African intellectuals use these languages to argue against these colonialist Propaganda. Another highlight is his appeal regarding what literature and education can do (create knowledge of self, empower individuals to see themselves in many different roles) as opposed to what it does in the post colony where educational systems preserve the colonial logic of training obedient clerks (tear people down and create despondency). A lot of the issues Ngugi describes apply to South Asia as well: schools that penalize students for speaking or writing in native languages, educational systems that prioritize English over knowledge of native language, educational systems that create docile clerks rather than empowered individuals, etc. I am curious as to whether folks in Latin America feel similarly, or if Spanish is sufficiently a native language? Ngugi agrees that European language can become native, but then the writing should be in the cadences and sound and form of the native version (which it usually isn’t). The point is to communicate with your own people, not Europe, so write accordingly. The arguments in these essays are worth articulating, even if they don’t seem too controversial today (or maybe they still are given that the education systems have not changed, see Rhodes must fall).

  14. 5 out of 5

    Wim

    Very powerful book on how colonization did not only have an impact on economic development and governance, but also and more profoundly on culture and minds. Western culture and languages are up to today considered as being superior and more fit for modern societies than African languages: western culture and languages are still promoted through education throughout Africa. When entering primary school, African children receive the message that their own language and culture is worthless and tha Very powerful book on how colonization did not only have an impact on economic development and governance, but also and more profoundly on culture and minds. Western culture and languages are up to today considered as being superior and more fit for modern societies than African languages: western culture and languages are still promoted through education throughout Africa. When entering primary school, African children receive the message that their own language and culture is worthless and that everything of value comes from the West: a very traumatizing experience that has profound consequences. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o links liberation struggles of the masses against the imperialism of the local elite bourgeoisie to the promotion of African languages and cultures and calls upon African writers to reconnect with the rich African traditions of orature, storytelling, poetry, songs and theater. He has a clear message: real empowerment and decolonization of African populations is only possible through a revival of African languages and culture.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kirtida Gautam

    "Language, any language, has a dual characteristic: it is both a means of communication and a carrier of culture." ~ Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o This is by far the best non-fiction book I have read in 2020. In no uncertain terms, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o describes how language erosion has been used as a political weapon against colonized civilizations. "Language, any language, has a dual characteristic: it is both a means of communication and a carrier of culture." ~ Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o This is by far the best non-fiction book I have read in 2020. In no uncertain terms, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o describes how language erosion has been used as a political weapon against colonized civilizations.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Salomé

    Yes! Ngũgĩ definitely asked the questions writers of colors should be asking. Worth the read!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Fawad Khan

    Oh, how I loved reading it!!!!! I have, recently, started delving in post-colonial studies and I am thoroughly enjoying it. HIGHHHHHHLYYY RECOMMENDED!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Angel 一匹狼

    When, nowadays, people talk about the new voices that are being heard for the first time, from all kinds of identities, I always have the feeling that there is purpose in this narrative, a desire to make everyone feel as if these voices where something new that are being heard of for the first time, as if the first wave of feminism wasn't a long time ago, or anti-colonial voices, or many other voices weren't there before. Ergo, it is not something about new opinions, narratives, identities, lang When, nowadays, people talk about the new voices that are being heard for the first time, from all kinds of identities, I always have the feeling that there is purpose in this narrative, a desire to make everyone feel as if these voices where something new that are being heard of for the first time, as if the first wave of feminism wasn't a long time ago, or anti-colonial voices, or many other voices weren't there before. Ergo, it is not something about new opinions, narratives, identities, languages appearing as much as particular societies/privileged/identities listening to them (or listening more). This is one example: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, as many others (Fanon, Freire, etc.) where saying things many many years ago. But why their messages were not so popular, listened to, talked about, etc., as they seem to be nowadays? Or are societies creating a narrative to have their utopian, feeling of change, narratives reinforced? Etc., etc. In any case, "Decolonising the Mind" is not one of the best works out there to criticize the system, capitalism, colonialism out there. It is quite simple in its approach, there is no much constructive criticism and there is too much focus on Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's own oeuvre to really offer anything special. The book is divided in four sections, of which the last one is the most interesting, where the author analyses, in particular, the role of language in colonialism and post-colonialism, in the construction of a national identity and in the ways 'protecting', 'creating', 'writing' in a local language instead of the language brought by the colonizer, changes perspectives and helps to free the local from the outsider. However, there are quite a few shortcomings in the approach. The issue of language doesn't go further from 'the local is better, the foreign language is one of the ways culture, art, and by extension, freedom and identity are colonized'. Nothing wrong with this, but poorly developed. For one, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o obsesses with simple ideas of identity, group and nationalism, with some messages about the 'goodness' of the group, and what, for me, comes out as a paternalist view on the non-artists/non-creators. The understanding of Africa can also be seen as problematic, as we have again the classical tension between what is Africa, Africa all as one big group, etc., etc., all seen under the same prism of their identity created by being colonized. And Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o fails to offer anything new. On the opposite, he repeats the same couple of things all the time, some vague affirmations about the need to write in one own's language. But to do so, he goes again and again to his own works, theater or novel, in what looks like an ad for his works. There is so much mememe in the development of the ideas (I, writing this theater piece, that was amazing, and people loved, and the people who acted in it found that it represented them...) that it kind of taints the overall discourse. There has to be a better analysis or understanding or whatever word you want to use for this, the role of language, the role of nation, the role of identity... The best: there are so many conversations needed around the role of language, art and identity creation/expression The worst: the 'me-me-me' that permeates everything; there is nothing new here (or particular depth) Alternatives: Frantz Fanon, Angela Davis, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Lily H. M. Ling, Katharine H.S. Moon, Edward Said, Harmonie Toros... 5.5/10 (Catalan translation by Blanca Busquets)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Reeby

    Decolonising the Mind is a fascinating and thought-provoking dissection of the effects of colonization in African literature through the lens of one of the most well-respected African writers. The book, Ngugi wa Thiong'o's last in English, traces the effects colonization has had on literature, theatre, and fiction in Africa and what has been done and can be done to create something more authentically and wholly African. It raises questions of self and culture, imperialism, and language through t Decolonising the Mind is a fascinating and thought-provoking dissection of the effects of colonization in African literature through the lens of one of the most well-respected African writers. The book, Ngugi wa Thiong'o's last in English, traces the effects colonization has had on literature, theatre, and fiction in Africa and what has been done and can be done to create something more authentically and wholly African. It raises questions of self and culture, imperialism, and language through the eyes and stories of someone who grew up in colonial Kenya and has spent his life fighting to separate African literature from the European influences that have so pervaded it. I originally read this as an assignment for a college class and even had the opportunity to meet Thiong'o, which has made the intricacies and importance of this book all the more real.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura McCafferty

    amazing,, the discussion of language as a means to convey culture and the impact of colonialism and colonial languages (English, French, Portuguese) on Africa,,, so interesting and important. the idea of language being a product of struggle and the enforcement of colonial language alienating Africans (and other colonised people) from their own struggle, history, and culture,, the importance of a resurgence in African language in literature as a call for a "regenerative reconnection with the mill amazing,, the discussion of language as a means to convey culture and the impact of colonialism and colonial languages (English, French, Portuguese) on Africa,,, so interesting and important. the idea of language being a product of struggle and the enforcement of colonial language alienating Africans (and other colonised people) from their own struggle, history, and culture,, the importance of a resurgence in African language in literature as a call for a "regenerative reconnection with the millions of revolutionary tongues ... demanding liberation ... a call for the rediscovery of the real language of humankind: the language of struggle". such an interesting, eye-opening book thoroughly enjoyed!!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mimi

    I took a class with this author. He's extremely intelligent and presents an interesting argument about the politics of language. In this critical theory text, he addresses the way the colonial process works on the cultural level (as opposed to the material, political, or even physical level). He encourages the use of African languages (rather than the language of former colonizers) in African literature. He also explains how his personal experiences informed his opinions on the politics of langu I took a class with this author. He's extremely intelligent and presents an interesting argument about the politics of language. In this critical theory text, he addresses the way the colonial process works on the cultural level (as opposed to the material, political, or even physical level). He encourages the use of African languages (rather than the language of former colonizers) in African literature. He also explains how his personal experiences informed his opinions on the politics of language, which I found interesting and rather persuasive.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Very thought provoking and insightful work. I read a book like this once long ago by a lesser well known author called Chika Onyeani, the book was called "Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success: A Spider-Web Doctrine. While Onyeani's work may not have had the editorial attention Thiongo's work received, they both speak the same language regarding Western domination and the destruction of the African identity. Great read. Very thought provoking and insightful work. I read a book like this once long ago by a lesser well known author called Chika Onyeani, the book was called "Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success: A Spider-Web Doctrine. While Onyeani's work may not have had the editorial attention Thiongo's work received, they both speak the same language regarding Western domination and the destruction of the African identity. Great read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ananda Esteva

    Everyone should read this!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Thabs

    This book equipped me with better insight and understanding of the ways in which African literature has been shaped by European colonisation and imperialist domination.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sunny

    I have a very strong interest in language and the power it has in terms of changing individual behaviour. I use lots of Jedi language tricks on my kids and subtly / non subtly influence their behaviour by the choice of words that I use. This book was about the language and literature and words that were used by the occupying countries who ruled and carved out African amongst themselves – predominantly European countries. It was fascinating and sad to hear about how certain countries were forced I have a very strong interest in language and the power it has in terms of changing individual behaviour. I use lots of Jedi language tricks on my kids and subtly / non subtly influence their behaviour by the choice of words that I use. This book was about the language and literature and words that were used by the occupying countries who ruled and carved out African amongst themselves – predominantly European countries. It was fascinating and sad to hear about how certain countries were forced to stop talking in their own language and then to speak in the vernacular of their occupier. Here are the best bits from the book: • The biggest weapon yielded and daily unleashed by imperialism against the collective defiance is the cultural bomb. The effect of a cultural bomb is to annihilate a people’s belief in their names in their languages, in their environment in their heritage or struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves. • The choice of language and the use to which language is put is central to a peoples definition of themselves in relation to their natural and social environment, indeed in relation to the entire universe. • The night of the sword and the bullet was followed by the morning of the chalk and the blackboard. The physical violence of the battlefield was followed by the psychological violence of the classroom. • In my view language was the most important vehicle through which that power fascinated and held the soul prisoner. The bullet was the means of the physical subjugation. Language was the means of the spiritual subjugation. • And since those images are mostly passed on through orature and literature it meant that the child would now only see the world as seen in the literature of the language of his adoption. • It does not matter that the imported literature carried the great humanist tradition of the best in Shakespeare, Goethe, Balzac, Tolstoy, Gorky, Brecht, Sholokhov, Dickens. The location of this great mirror of imagination was necessarily Europe and its history and culture and the rest of the universe was seen from that centre. • All the earlier crucial discoveries like the wheel of irrigation, or the windmill or the water mill were the inventions of the peasantry. Again, this is even more true of the arts. The most important breakthroughs in music dance and literature have been borrowed from the peasantry. Even the games like football and athletics have come from common people while all the others normally associated with the upper classes were refinements of those of the people. Nowhere is this more clear than in the area of languages. It is the peasantry and the working classes who are changing language all the time in pronunciations, in forming new dialects, new phrases, new idioms, new sayings. • A writer, any writer has only one resource, himself. Those images that often flit across the mind, those mental reflections of the world around. The chemistry of imagination often transforms the quantity of these different images, reflections through, sounds, pictures, feelings, sights, tastes, all these impressions, into a coalescence of a qualitatively different, or unified imagine or sets of images of reality. • In this book I have pointed out that how we view ourselves, our environment even, is very much dependent on where we stand in relation to imperialism in its colonial and non colonial stages, that if we are to do anything about our individual and collective being today, then we have to coldly and consciously look at what imperialism has been doing to us and to our view of ourselves in the universe (imperialistic version of orientalism?). • The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, the point however is to change it”. Karl Marx

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bob Offer-Westort

    Ngũgĩ's framework is overtly Marxist, tho not wantonly heady: Language is fundamentally social, & thus grows out of social relations, which are material relations. Imperial languages are the product of other material relations, & thus serve to alienate the colonised from their native languages & their own social beings. The committed artist, then, needs to work with these local languages—'the real language of humankind: the language of struggle'—developing them as critical & imaginative artistic Ngũgĩ's framework is overtly Marxist, tho not wantonly heady: Language is fundamentally social, & thus grows out of social relations, which are material relations. Imperial languages are the product of other material relations, & thus serve to alienate the colonised from their native languages & their own social beings. The committed artist, then, needs to work with these local languages—'the real language of humankind: the language of struggle'—developing them as critical & imaginative artistic tools. Marx & (primarily British) Marxist thought is present thruout, but Ngũgĩ's fundamental position & arguments do not require the reader to accept more than these basics. The middle chapters of the book are in large part autobiographical, reflecting on Ngũgĩ's first work in Gĩkũyũ in a community theatre—an appealing account of collaborative artistic production that Ngũgĩ overtly compares to Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed—& then his struggles to employ Gĩkũyũ as a novelistic language during his subsequent imprisonment & isolation, writing Caitaani Mutharabaini ( Devil on the Cross ). The focus in these chapters is on the kinds of decisions & thinking an artist & educator must engage in working in the medium of a language that has long been suppressed. The context is particularly African, & directed primarily to liberatory artists, critics, & educators who work in environments where the most relevant imperial powers are European (at least linguistically). However, the book could be useful fodder for thought in any environment in which the colloquial of the oppressed has been suppressed by a language of prestige.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Abu Siddik

    It is a classic and powerful work by a great ingenuous mind and literary writer-cum-activist. It is a vehement protest against two tenets of modernity: colonialism and imperialism. Now neocolonialism. African, Asian or Third World Literature have lost their roots and moorings, and shaped and formed by the colonial masters. Their works are in tune with their profit agenda. Literature to colonial masters is a means of appropriation of oddities and vulgarities of the colonized. The book through its It is a classic and powerful work by a great ingenuous mind and literary writer-cum-activist. It is a vehement protest against two tenets of modernity: colonialism and imperialism. Now neocolonialism. African, Asian or Third World Literature have lost their roots and moorings, and shaped and formed by the colonial masters. Their works are in tune with their profit agenda. Literature to colonial masters is a means of appropriation of oddities and vulgarities of the colonized. The book through its in-depth analysis of the application of language of African poetry, drama and fiction hammers to to the point of dehumanization of indigenous language, literature and culture by English. It champions the cause of African language and literature as a means of claiming one's root and basic identity. Unlike Yeats Ngugi wa Thiong'o claims his identity in his innate language. Language is not a mere vehicle of conveying thoughts, it is much more. It is his identity, his rootedness. He hails the poets and writers who struggle for the exploration of their language and literature. The colonizers are not his saviours. They are looters of his land, people and their resources. The same machination still works by the world super powers through the use of their cultural and economic, trade snares. What the writer says a few writer can say. His boldness, his supreme sacrifice, his cause draws a sense of awe and admiration.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sonja

    A very important book, awakening the people to the kind of imperialist influence and damage that has been made in Africa.Decolonising the mind is subtitled The Politics of Language in African Literature. This book takes us through the road of the gross colonization that has been done in culture. Once a person really sees this, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o repeats this throughout other essays, there is no turning back. We can see the it even in the irrelevant sympathies of white do-gooders and liberals, A very important book, awakening the people to the kind of imperialist influence and damage that has been made in Africa.Decolonising the mind is subtitled The Politics of Language in African Literature. This book takes us through the road of the gross colonization that has been done in culture. Once a person really sees this, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o repeats this throughout other essays, there is no turning back. We can see the it even in the irrelevant sympathies of white do-gooders and liberals, even so-called radicals like myself. Contextualizarían and relevant literature is not enough. The only thing to support is is appeal for a “communication between African languages as forming the real foundation of a genuinely African novel. A novel originally written in Ibo could find itself translated into Yoruba and vice versa.” After translations into several African languages, there would be “a dialogue,” a connection, a building upon one another. “This would also have the added effect of enhancing the art of translation translation...” What great vision!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pritam Chattopadhyay

    ‘Struggle makes history. Struggle makes us. In struggle is our history, our language and our being. That struggle beings wherever we are; in whatever we do: then we become part of those millions….’ In this book, Ngugi analyses how Africa was colonised through twofold means of controlled access to literature and writing. To begin with, the printing press authority allowed only religious and sociological works to be published debarring the works with any political theme. Moreover, the African mind ‘Struggle makes history. Struggle makes us. In struggle is our history, our language and our being. That struggle beings wherever we are; in whatever we do: then we become part of those millions….’ In this book, Ngugi analyses how Africa was colonised through twofold means of controlled access to literature and writing. To begin with, the printing press authority allowed only religious and sociological works to be published debarring the works with any political theme. Moreover, the African mind was colonised through the education, as in the universities and institutions students read the foreign version of their culture and hence witnessed the fictional encounter with their own country. In Homecoming, he writes about the significance of teaching African languages, as a carrier of culture and identity. One of the finest pamphlets of the modern African mind you would ever read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alberto

    Decolonising the mind is a perfect book that dares to touch on the subject many western imperialist and neo-colonized mind wouldn't find interesting. The subject of our African languages to be used in literal work has always been met with different forces both internal and external but still, they have remained strong. "But African languages refused to die. They would not simply go the way of Latin to become the fossils for linguistic archaeology to dig up, classify, and argue about the internat Decolonising the mind is a perfect book that dares to touch on the subject many western imperialist and neo-colonized mind wouldn't find interesting. The subject of our African languages to be used in literal work has always been met with different forces both internal and external but still, they have remained strong. "But African languages refused to die. They would not simply go the way of Latin to become the fossils for linguistic archaeology to dig up, classify, and argue about the international conferences" Ngugi Wa Thiong argues why it necessary to preserve our languages like Swahili, Yoruba, Amharic among others. Although I don't agree with him on using Arabic as African language I find the book worth reading not only for literature students but all Africans who want to reclaim they self-worthiness and rebuke this thing called illiteracy measured by afro-euro languages.

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