“Decolonizing the mind” by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

This article is also available in: Italiano

An essential work for anyone interested in the processes of decolonization and the functioning of imperialist models. In “Decolonizing the Mind”, Ngugi wa Thiong’o will show us in particular the value of the language and how it can turn into a deadly trap.

Decolonizing the mind

Many of the ideas are familiar from Ngugi’s earlier critical books, and earlier lectures, elsewhere. But the material here has a new context and the ideas a new focus. This leading African writer presents the arguments for using African language and forms after successfully using an African language himself. – Anne Walmsley in THE GUARDIAN … after 25 years of independence, there is beginning to emerge a generation of writers for whom colonialism is a matter of history and not of direct personal experience. In retrospect that literature characterised by Ngugi as Afro-European – the literature written by Africans in European languages – will come to be seen as part and parcel of the uneasy period between colonialism and full independence, a period equally reflected in the continent’s political instability as it attempts to find its feet. Ngugi’s importance – and that of this book – lies in the courage with which he has confronted this most urgent of issues. – Adewale Maja-Pearce in THE NEW STATESMAN

The best book to really understand the role of the language

Through the experience lived in first person by the author, we will be able to truly understand what is the meaning and value of expressing oneself in one’s native language, a concept that is often lost in the most barbaric of ways. With their arrival, the British imposed the use of English on each country they colonized, both for administrative and imperialistic reasons. Forcing a people to speak and understand only their own language, in fact, made it possible for the colonizing process to carry out its profession directly in the minds of individuals.

In the long run they will be led to equate language and culture, ending in an inexorable vortex of malaise and psychic subjection. This will lead the native to desire more and more “to be British”, never succeeding according to the canons imposed by the rulers themselves. This book tells of the work and effort of Ngugi wa Thiong’o in wanting to do something very simple: expressing himself in his language in his country, possibly without being arrested. An essential work for anyone interested in the processes of decolonization and the functioning of imperialist models.

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