Decolonising The Mind Essay

It had evolved to convey different ideas of self, individual, community, nature, time, beauty, loyalty, respect, kinship terms, humor, idioms, gender roles, animals, and so much else from a particular ontology.

Moreover, it was alien to the language-world of Ngugi’s daily life in Kenya—of the streets, boyhood fights, swear words, commerce, labor, family, love, food, festivals, geography, plants, and more.

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.

This has been the way of the great colonialists of history, such as the Arabs in the 7-8th centuries, the British and the French in the 19th, and the Russians with the Baltic States in the 20th.

Ngugi writes, For colonialism this involved two aspects of the same process: the destruction or the deliberate undervaluing of a peoples culture, their art, dances, religions, history, geography, education, orature, and literature, and the conscious elevation of the language of the colonizer.The domination of a peoples language by the language of the colonizing nations was crucial to the domination of the mental universe of the colonized. A great debate ensued in 1830s Britain on the choice of an official language of colonial administration and education.Making the winning case for English over Sanskrit, Persian, and all other local languages, Thomas B.Nor is it a mere tool for describing the world as it truly isno language can be said to describe the world as it truly is.To use a languageany languageis to interpret the world in a particular way.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 natives tended to not welcome and cooperate with the intruders, so alongside came great developments in the art of subjugating the natives, through military, political, and cultural means.In this essay, I’ll look at some cultural means of controlling the natives, particularly through language, and its effect on the psyche of the colonized, using examples from Africa and India.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?


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