DECOLONISING THE MIND PDF

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First published British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data. Ngũgĩ, wa Thiong'o. Decolonising the mind: the politics of language in African literature. 1. Decolonising the Mind*. Ngugi wa Thiong'o. The question is this: we as African writers have always complained about t the neo-colonial economic and political. Decolonising the mind: the impact of the university on culture and identity in Papua New Guinea, Bibliography. ISBN 1 5. 1. Beier, Ulli.


Decolonising The Mind Pdf

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PDF | In Summary The public lectures were timely and came at a time when South African universities are themselves fighting to decolonise. Consciousness Movement as part of an attempt to decolonise the black mind as But the agenda of decolonising the mind as was driven by the Black Con-. Decolonising the Mind. The Politics of Language in African Literature. Joan Riley on the BBC World Service. Decolonising the Mind is powerfully written and full.

It was received with even more emphatic critical acclaim in Kenya and abroad. Sharply critical of the inequalities and injustices of Kenyan society, publicly identified with unequivocally championing the cause of ordinary Kenyans, and committed to communicating with them in the languages of their daily lives, Ngugi was arrested and imprisoned without charge at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison at the end of the year, December 31, An account of those experiences is to be found in his memoir, Detained: It was at Kamiti Maximum Prison that Ngugi made the decision to abandon English as his primary language of creative writing and committed himself to writing in Gikuyu, his mother tongue.

In prison, and following that decision, he wrote, on toilet paper, the novel, Caitani Mutharabaini translated into English as Devil on the Cross, After Amnesty International named him a Prisoner of Conscience, an international campaign secured his release a year later, December However, the Moi Dictatorship barred him from jobs at colleges and university in the country.

He resumed his writing and his activities in the theater and in so doing, continued to be an uncomfortable voice for the Moi dictatorship. This forced him into exile, first in Britain — , and then the U.

In , at a conference in Harare, an assassination squad outside his hotel in Harare was thwarted by the Zimbwean security. His next Gikuyu novel, Matigari, was published in Undercover police went to all the bookshops in the country and the Publishers warehouse and took the novel away.

So, between and , Matigari could not be sold in Kenyan bookshops. In exile, Ngugi worked with the London based Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in Kenya, , which championed the cause of democratic and human rights in Kenya. I first went to Kamaandura, missionary run, and then to another called Maanguuu run by nationalists grouped around the Gikuyu Independ- ent and Karinga Schools Association.

Our language of education was still Gikuyu.

decolonising-the-mind.pdf

The very first time I was ever given an ovation for my writing was over a composition in Gikuyu. So for my first four years there was still harmony between the language of my formal education and that of the Limuru peasant community.

It was after the declaration of a state of emergency over Kenya in 1 that all the schools run by patriotic nationalists were taken over by the colonial regime and were placed under District Education Boards chaired by Englishmen.

English became the language of my formal education. In Page Decolonising the Mind Kenya, English became more than a language: it was Slanguage, and all the others had to bow before it in deference. Thus one of the most humiliating experiences was to be caught speaking GikuyU in the vicinity of the school. Sometimes the culprits were fined money they could hardly afford. And how did the teachers catch the culprits?

A button was initially given to one pupil who was supposed to hand it over to whoever was caught speaking his mother tongue. Whoever had the button at the end of the day would sing who had given it to him and the ensuing process would bring out all the culprits of the day.

Thus children were turned into witch-hunters and in the process were being taught the lucrative value of being a traitor to one's immediate community. The attitude to English was the exact opposite: any achievement in spoken or written English was highly rewarded; prizes, prestige, applause; the ticket to higher realms. English became the main determinant of a child's progress up the ladder of formal education.

As you may know, the colonial system of education in addition to its apartheid racial demarcation had the structure of a pyramid: a broad primary base, a narrowihg secondary middle, and an even narrower university apex. Selections from primary into secondary were through an examination, in my time called Kenya African Preliminary Examination, in which one had to pass six subjects ranging from Maths to Nature Study and Kiswahili. All the papers were written in English. He was made to fail the entire exam.

He went on to become a turn boy in a bus company. I who had only passes but a credit in English got a place at the Alliance High School, one of the most elitist institutions for Africans in colonial Kenya. The requirements for a place at the University, Makerere University College, were broadly the same: nobody could go on to wear the undergraduate red gown, no matter how brilliantly they had performed in all the other subjects unless they had a credit-— not even a simple passl-— in English.

Thus the most coveted place in the pyramid and in the system was only available to the holder of an Decolonising the Mind Page English language credit card.

English was the official vehicle and the magic formula to colonial elitedoth. Literary education was now determined by the dominant language while also reinforcing that dominance. Orature oral literature in Kenyan languages stopped. In secondary school, Scott and G. Eliot with a touch of Grahame Greene. Thus language and literature were taking us further and further from ourselves to other selves, from our world to other worlds.

What was the colonial system doing to us Kenyan children? What were the consequences of, on the one hand, this systematic suppression of our languages and the literature they carried, and on the other the elevation of English and the literature it carried? To answer those questions, let me first examine the relationship of language to human experience, human culture, and the human perception of reality.

IV Language, any language, has a dual character: it is both a means of commu- nication and a carrier of culture. It is not a carrier of their culture. For the British, and particularly the English, it is additionally, and inseparably from its use as a tool of communication, a carrier of their culture and history.

Or take Swahili in East and Central Africa. It is widely used as a means of communication across many nationalities. But it is not the carrier of a culture and history of many of those nationalities. However in parts of Kenya and Tanzania, and particularly in Zanzibar, Swahili is inseparably both a means of communication and a carrier of the culture of those people to whom it is a mother-tongue. Language as communication has three aspects or elements.

A human community really starts its historical being as a community of co-operation in production through the division of labour; the simplest is between man, woman and child within a household; the more complex divisions are between branches of production such as those who are sole hunters, sole gatherers of fruits or sole workers in metal.

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. Production is co-operation, is communication, is language, is expression of a relation between human beings and it is specifically human. The second aspect of language as communication is speech and it imitates the language of real life, that is communication in production.

The verbal signposts both reflect and aid communication or the relation established between human beings in the production of their means of life. Language as a system of verbal signposts makes that production possible.

The spoken word is to relations between human beings what the hand is to the relations between human beings and nature. The hand through tools mediates between human beings and nature and forms the language of real life: spoken words mediate between human beings and form the language of speech. The third aspect is the written signs.

The written word imitates the spoken. Where the first two aspects of language as communication through the hand and the spoken word historically evolved more or less simulta- neously, the written aspect is a much later historical development. Writing is representation of sounds with visual symbols, from the simplest knot among shepherds to tell the number in a herd or the hieroglyphics among the Agikuyu gicaandi singers and poets of Kenya, to the most complicated and different letter and picture writing systems of the world today.

In most societies the written and the spoken languages are the same, in that they represent each other: what is on paper can be read to another person and be received as that language, which the recipient has grown up speaking.

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In such a society there is broad harmony for a child between the three aspects of language as communication. His interaction with nature and with other men is expressed in written and spoken symbols or signs which are both a result of that double interaction and a reflection of it.

The association of the child's sensibility is with the language of his experience of life. Eliot with a touch of Grahame Greene. Thus language and literature were taking us further and further from ourselves to other selves, from our world to other worlds.

What was the colonial system doing to us Kenyan children? What were the consequences of, on the one hand, this systematic suppression of our languages and the literature they carried, and on the other the elevation of English and the literature it carried?

To answer those questions, let me first examine the relationship of language to human experience, human culture, and the human perception of reality. IV Language, any language, has a dual character: It is not a carrier of their culture. For the British, and particularly the English, it is additionally, and inseparably from its use as a tool of communication, a carrier of their culture and history.

Or take Swahili in East and Central Africa.

It is widely used as a means of communication across many nationalities. But it is not the carrier of a culture and history of many of those nationalities. However in parts of Kenya and Tanzania, and particularly in Zanzibar, Swahili is inseparably both a means of communication and a carrier of the culture of those people to whom it is a mother-tongue.

Language as communication has three aspects or elements. 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: A human community really starts its historical being as a community of co-operation in production through the division of labour; the simplest is between man, woman and child within a household; the more complex divisions are between branches of production such as those who are sole hunters, sole gatherers of fruits or sole workers in metal.

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. Production is co-operation, is communication, is language, is expression of a relation between human beings and it is specifically human. The second aspect of language as communication is speech and it imitates the language of real life, that is communication in production.

The verbal signposts both reflect and aid communication or the relation established between human beings in the production of their means of life. Language as a system of verbal signposts makes that production possible. The spoken word is to relations between human beings what the hand is to the relations between human beings and nature.

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The hand through tools mediates between human beings and nature and forms the language of real life: The third aspect is the written signs. The written word imitates the spoken. Where the first two aspects of language as communication through the hand and the spoken word historically evolved more or less simulta- neously, the written aspect is a much later historical development.

Writing is representation of sounds with visual symbols, from the simplest knot among shepherds to tell the number in a herd or the hieroglyphics among the Agikuyu gicaandi singers and poets of Kenya, to the most complicated and different letter and picture writing systems of the world today. In most societies the written and the spoken languages are the same, in that they represent each other: In such a society there is broad harmony for a child between the three aspects of language as communication.

His interaction with nature and with other men is expressed in written and spoken symbols or signs which are both a result of that double interaction and a reflection of it. The association of the child's sensibility is with the language of his experience of life.

But there is more to it: In doing similar lands of things and actions over and over again under similar circumstances, similar even in their Decolonising the Mind Page mutability, certain patterns, moves, rhythms, habits, attitudes, experiences and knowledge emerge.

Those experiences are handed over to the next generation and become the inherited basis for their further actions on nature and on themselves. There is a gradual accumulation of values whicK in time become almost self-evident truths governing their conception of what is right and wrong, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, courageous and cowardly, generous and mean in their internal and external relations.

Over a time this becomes a way of life distinguishable from other ways of life. They develop a distinctive culture and history. Culture embodies those moral, ethical and aesthetic values, the set of spiritual eyeglasses, through which they come to view themselves and their place in the universe.

Values are the basis of a people's identity, their sense of particularity as members of the human race.

Decolonising the Mind : The Politics of Language in African Literature

All this is carried by language. Language as culture is the collective memory bank of a peoples experience in history. Culture is almost indistinguishable from the language that makes possible its genesis, growth, banking, articulation and indeed its transmission from one generation to the next.

Language as culture also has three important aspects. Culture is a product of the history which it in turn reflects. Culture in other words is a product and a reflection of human beings communicating with one another in the very struggle to create wealth and to control it. But culture does not merely reflect that history, or rather it does so by actually forming images or pictures of the world of nature and nurture. Thus the second aspect of language as culture is as an image-forming agent in the mind of a child.

Our whole conception of ourselves as a people, individually and collectively, is based on those pictures and images which may or may not correctly correspond to the actual reality of the struggles with nature and nurture which produced them in the first place. But our capacity to confront the world creatively is dependent on how those images correspond or not to that reality, how they distort or clarify the reality of our struggles. Language as culture is thus mediating between me and my own self; between my own self and other selves; between me and nature.

Language is mediating in my very being. And this brings us to the third aspect of language as culture. Culture transmits or imparts those images of the world and reality through the spoken and the written language, that is through a specific language. In other words, the capacity to speak, the capacity to order sounds in a manner that makes for mutual comprehension between human beings is universal.

This is the universality of language, a quality specific to human beings. It corresponds to the universality of the struggle against nature and that between human beings. But the particularity of the sounds, the words, the Page Decolonising the Mind word order into phrases and sentences, and the specific manner, or laws, of their ordering is what distinguishes one language from another.Why would Ngugi choose to write this, and to place it in such a prominent location in his essay?

Multi-narrative lines and multi-viewpoints unfolding at different times and spaces replace the linear temporal unfolding of the plot from a single viewpoint.

Immediately following the conference, literary critic Obi Wali had raised the questions that Ngugi would later revisit. Knowledge and attitude might not be enough to decolonize the mind.

Language carries culture, and culture carries, particularly through orature and literature, the entire body of values by which we come to perceive ourselves and our place in the world.

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