Decolonising the Mind is a collection of essays about language and its constructive role in national culture, history, and identity. The book. Page | Decolonising the Mind Ngugi wa Thiong’o from Decolonising the Mind In this essay one of Africa’s most distinguished novelists discusses some of . 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.

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What was ngugk colonial system doing to us Kenyan children? In other words, the language debate and writing in African languages had been going on for a long time. But its most important area of secolonising was dwcolonising mental universe of the colonised, the control, through culture, of how people perceived themselves and their relationship to the world.

We spoke Gi kttyu in and outside the home. Where his own native languages were associated in his impressionable mind with low status, humiliation, corporal punishment, slow- footed intelligence and ability or downright stupidity, non-intelligibility and barbarism, this was reinforced by the world he met in the works of such geniuses of racism as a Rider Haggard or a Nicholas Monsarrat; not to mention the pronouncement of some of the giants of western intellectual and political establishment, such us Hume “.

Now, they were engaged in a battle to decolonize minds and institutions.


And it was they who helped in fleshing out the play, who acted in it and comprised the majority of the audience. He determines that “colonial alienation” is enacted by the “deliberate disassociation of the language of conceptualisation, of thinking, of formal education, of mental development, from the language of daily interaction in the home and in the community” Learning, for a colonial child, became a cerebral activity and not an emotionally felt experience.

He returned, without explanation, “to his familiar role as a critic of imperial European languages writing in English.

Like us on Facebook. In most societies the written and the spoken languages are the same, in that they represent each other: While in the end most of the writing featured was originally in English, there were conversations across various language borders—Lusophone, Francophone, English and African languages. For my generation, how well you spoke English was not just a marker of intelligence kind also class.


The language of an African child’s formal education was decolpnising. They had so much in common that it was a wonder they had not met before.

The Modern Language Association of America. I, a student, could qualify for the meeting on the basis of only two published short stories. The negro is naturally inferior to ddcolonising whites So for my first four years there was still harmony between the language of my formal education and that of the Limuru peasant community. He published several works while he was shifted in and out of imprisonment: African languages have to move from being primarily social languages to vehicles of political, cultural, and economic growth.


Language as culture is the collective memory bank of a peoples experience in history. Decolonnising paragraph 1 5, Ngugi argues that a language has a communication function for all people who speak that language, but that it also serves as a carrier of culture for all those for whom that language is the mother-tongue.

But culture does not merely reflect that decoloniing, or rather it does so by actually forming images or pictures of the world of nature and nurture.

Decolonising the Mind : The Politics of Language in African Literature

The work of decolonization is as personal as it is political. He was being made to stand outside himself to look at himself. Language is thus inseparable from ourselves as a community of human beings with a specific form and character, a specific history, a specific relationship to the world.

Language carries culture, and culture carries, particularly through orature and literature, the entire body of values by which we come to perceive ngygi and our place in the world. Some post-colonial theorists advocate for, if not a complete abandonment of the English language, at least a decolonissing and pronounced preference for indigenous languages as a literary or scholarly medium.

They develop min distinctive culture and history. But neither Shaban Robert, then the greatest living East African poet with several works of poetry and prose to his credit inn Kiswahili, nor Chief Fagunwa, the great writer with several published titles in Yoruba, could possibly qualify.

Catching Them Young is the tide of a book on racism, class, sex, and politics in children’s literature by Bob Dixon. The government would not give passports to my older siblings or allow them to find meaningful jobs.


The Makerere generation was composed of writers in their twenties and thirties who understood themselves as having a mission to contribute to decolonization; this generation sees itself as having the mission to create democratic spaces for African literature, languages, and through internet use, a Pan-African readership.

Or take Swahili in East and Central Africa. Then there are the most complex divisions such as those in modern factories where a single product, say a shirt or a shoe, is the result of many hands and minds.

I want Kenyans to transcend colonial alienation There is first what Karl Marx once called the language of real life, the element basic to the whole notion of language, its origins and development: This was the village from which the nearby Bata shoe Company and tea plantations drew their labor. How do you feel the opening sentence affects the average Western reader? And this brings us to the third aspect of language as culture. And how did the teachers catch the culprits? It also examined the close relationship between language and culture.

Language as culture also has three important aspects. The attitude to English was the exact opposite: For the British, and particularly the English, it is additionally, and inseparably from its use as a tool of communication, a nyugi of their culture and history. I can vividly recall those evenings of storytelling around the fireside.

He was made to fail the entire exam. There were good and bad story-tellers. Decolonnising the Mind and Matigari were both published in This leading African writer presents the arguments for using African language and forms after successfully using an African language himself.

Writers are asked to submit original works written in their own languages and provide an accompanying English translation. If you speak two or more languages, does this assertion meet with your own experience? Looking for beautiful books?