Decolonising The Mind Essay

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Not only that, his own language was ‘associated in his impressionable mind with low status, humiliation, corporal punishment, slow-footed intelligence’ and worse.

Ngugi wrote that if the bullet was the means of physical subjugation, language was the means of spiritual subjugation of the African child, resulting ‘in the dissociation of the sensibility of that child from his natural and social environment, what we might call colonial alienation.’ [7] What then to make of literature written in European languages by Africans?

Referring to the Orientalists of his day, he said, I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.

Therefore, concluded Macaulay, we have to educate a people who cannot at present be educated by means of their mother tongue. [2] Language is not a neutral vessel for conveying the ideas, beliefs, and values that constitute culture.

The modern era of European colonialism began in the Americas with bands of adventurers seeking El Dorado.

Their early intrusions evolved into predatory monopolies like the East India Company and European states exerting direct control over the economic and political life of the colonies.

Indeed, it was even worse: One of the most humiliating experiences was to be caught speaking [Gikuyu] in the vicinity of the school.

The culprit was given corporal punishment three to five strokes of the cane on bare buttocks or was made to carry a metal plate around his neck with inscriptions such as .

The language of an African childs formal education soon became foreign, writes Ngugi. In Kenya, Ngugi himself studied every subject in English at school but spoke Gikuyu at homea language spoken by more people than speakers of Danish or Croatian.

There was often not the slightest relationship between [English], and the world of his immediate environment in the family and the community.


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