Decolonising The Mind Essay

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[1] When done right, the native comes to elevate and mimic his master’s ways, to see his own culture as inferior, and to look down on his past as ‘a wasteland of non-achievement’.

He begins to defer to the colonizer’s ideas on fundamental things like beauty, art, and politics.

The modern era of European colonialism began in the Americas with bands of adventurers seeking El Dorado.

Their early intrusions evolved into predatory monopolies like the East India Company and European states exerting direct control over the economic and political life of the colonies.

The children were turned into witch-hunters and in the process were being taught the lucrative value of being a traitor to ones immediate community.

Ngugi, born into a large peasant family, was baptized James Ngugi and educated in English, a language that evolved outside Africa, shaped by and organically intertwined with a very different cultural milieu.

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.

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.


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