20 September 2013

Rwanda: How Colonialism Has Deemed African Languages Unworthy

book review

Book: Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature

Author: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Available at: Kigali Public Library

In this book, Thiong'o explains how colonialism has deemed African languages unworthy of use - both by the colonisers and the colonised.

He explains how a "cultural bomb" was dropped on Africa so the minds (and consequently the resources) of Africans were controlled. "Make them hate themselves," as the mission goes.

This was seen in the schools where European languages were idolized, the streets where African languages became synonymous with the language of the peasantry, and at the prison cells were those African writers who choose to stay true to their mother tongue were held.

Overall, the book does a great job at addressing the issue behind the "fatalistic logic of the unassailable position of English in our literature." The author also introduces his views on Marxism and its role against Western Imperialism but, in my opinion, doesn't develop his thoughts on this enough.

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