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Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
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Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  694 ratings  ·  38 reviews
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, theatre, criticism and in the teaching of literature. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Europe stole art treasures from Africa to decorate their houses and museums; in the twentieth century Europe is stealing ...more
Paperback, 114 pages
Published 2005 by East African Educational Publishers (first published July 18th 1981)
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Aug 03, 2014 Zanna rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers, readers and writers of all languages
Recommended to Zanna by: Tinea
In this work Ngugi wa Thiong'o bids farewell to his practice of writing in English, adding that he hopes translation will enable him to continue to communicate with all. He then explains the passionate reasoning behind his belief in the use of African languages by African writers.
I have come to realise more and more that work, any work, even literary creative work, is not the result of an individual genius but the result of a collective effort

Taking as a founding principle that imperialism and i
Decolonizing the Mind is integral, I think, to understanding anti-colonialist struggles. The western world understands colonialism in terms of the most visible aspects of a nation, namely its leadership. People fail to recognize the long-term effects of colonialism such as widespread poverty. Decolonizing the Mind reminds us of another of these aftereffects, specifically, the domination of language by the Western World. In a sense, the language barrier has enabled social apartheid where legal se ...more
Decolonizing the Mind is integral, I think, to understanding anti-colonialist struggles. The western world understands colonialism in terms of the most visible aspects of a nation, namely its leadership. People fail to recognize the long-term effects of colonialism such as widespread poverty. Decolonizing the Mind reminds us of another of these aftereffects, specifically, the domination of language by the Western World. In a sense, the language barrier has enabled social apartheid where legal se ...more
An amazing book by a Kenyan author on understanding the psychology of exploitation and oppression by colonialism and imperialism. Its focus is on the exploitation of Africans by Europeans through the domination of culture, but its lessons are applicable to the struggles of all people.

It's a must read. I learned about it from a Palestinian activist visiting the United States.
Angelo Ricci
Ci sono domande che sono determinanti nell’universo della scrittura. Quale tipo di linguaggio è necessario utilizzare? Che rapporto esiste tra la condizione dei personaggi e lo stile con cui si esprimono? E come far convivere l’espressione linguistica delle varie epoche storiche con la contemporaneità dei lettori? Domande che sono alla base di quella struttura che dal Settecento si è formata con il nome di romanzo e che lo stesso Alessandro Manzoni si è posto per tutti i decenni di travaglio di ...more
Subway book because Wizard of the Crow is too heavy for the commute.

First reread in about fifteen years. So far I've discovered I completely misremembered at least one major point: wa'Thiong'o, far from being hostile about the translation of his work into English, welcomes it as a continued communication. He just refuses to make English his primary language of literary communication.

This discovery is not particularly surprising, given how I've seen other white people misread and miscomprehend si
Thiong'o explains how colonialism has deemed African languages unworthy of use - both by the colonizers and the colonized. 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 Af ...more
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o's 'Decolonising the Mind' is certainly a seminal text, not just as regards to the study of African literature, as opposed to Afro-European literature, but as regards to other concerns as well, such as the politics of language, education, drama in a post-colonial state and so on, that have since become standard discussions in the study of post-colonial theory and novels.

However, there were some points that I did not agree with (which is usually the result when an author tends t
Annie Xie
Definitely thought-provoking and gives me something to think about in terms of language, anti-colonialist struggles, and the future or even definition of "African literature". I absolutely agree that literature in African languages should be written, should be read, and should be taught, but I don't quite make the leap with Ngugi in seeing English-language African literature as perpetuating colonization and imperialism.

"We African writers are bound by our calling to do for our languages what Sp
Decolonising the Mind is a fascinating and thought-provoking dissection of the effects of colonization in African literature through the lens of one of the most well-respected African writers. The book, Ngugi wa Thiong'o's last in English, traces the effects colonization has had on literature, theatre, and fiction in Africa and what has been done and can be done to create something more authentically and wholly African. It raises questions of self and culture, imperialism, and language through t ...more
God bless this man. Wow. Real review to come.
Ananda Esteva
Everyone should read this!
Le manifeste d'un auteur kenyan qui décide d'abandonner l'anglais pour ne plus écrire qu'en kikuyu, sa langue maternelle. Le témoignage est très intéressant quant à la réappropriation de sa propre culture et montre bien comment la colonisation, au-delà du façonnage des pays colonisés à l'exploitation économique, a aussi largement façonné les esprits à un référentiel culturel jugé supérieur. Si j'ai trouvé le témoignage sur le cheminement personnel très intéressant (de l'étudiant modelé par le sy ...more
Avtar Singh
How imperialism controls our thoughts and kill local languages. Nice book.
I took a class with this author. He's extremely intelligent and presents an interesting argument about the politics of language. In this critical theory text, he addresses the way the colonial process works on the cultural level (as opposed to the material, political, or even physical level). He encourages the use of African languages (rather than the language of former colonizers) in African literature. He also explains how his personal experiences informed his opinions on the politics of langu ...more
Apr 13, 2015 Olivia marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
A interesting examination of the aesthetic and cultural differences between bourgeoisie and indigenous art. The major difference is in the relationship to the community. The bourgeiose create a facade of prefection by institutionalizing and confiding art into certain spatial zones. Indigenous art, on the other hand, places art all around the community in a flowing interaction. I believe this book is necessary for anyone seeking to judge art's value.
Allie Reznik
A memoir/manual, in many ways, for "national, democratic, and human liberation." Absolutely love.
only on page 50, but it's making my head explode. so far i'm trying to grasp how language and literature (and the chosen official languages of national literature) can be used as political tools/weapons. what it means for people to participate in their own culture's writing and performance.
One of the most straight forward and enjoyably readable theory books I have ever read.
Jay Traub
It is interesting and thoughtful book. I think this is a valuable book for a language teacher to read, especially one who is teaching the language in a foreign country and even more important for a person teaching a foreign language in an African country.
I was planning on arguing against Ngugi about the need for African writers to write ::solely:: in an African language, but his argument (with a mix of Marxist criticism and history of colonialism) was too compelling. A really great read.
Wa Thiong'o explores the issues of speaking your native tongue versus the language brought by the colonizers and gives life to an aspect of living colonial - and post-colonial - life that most people wouldn't even think twice about.
I don't have the context to grasp every argument he makes, but Ngugi is clearly radiantly intelligent, and his writing incisive. This is a slim volume of concentrated brilliance from an admirable writer and intellectual.
Darshan Elena
this book changed my outlook on life and its possibilities. without a doubt, this is one of the most transformative books ever written. i wish it were standard reading for students, alongside of or instead of shakespeare.
Hannah Spencer
A must-read for those interested in not being ignorant. Also a must-read for writers of colonized peoples, duh.
Gopala Krishna Koduri
Excellent read! Highly recommend it to anyone interested in the cultural and political situation of Africa at large, and other colonized (and eventually freed) nations to a certain extent.
Brotha Nameless
I love this book! The brotha breaks it down on the importance for Afrikans to write & publish in their own languages. A very important piece in edutainment as resistance as well.
Read partially for class and partially for the research paper I did for the class. Good work of postcolonial theory, especially for those interested in language issues.
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Kenyan teacher, novelist, essayist, and playwright, whose works function as an important link between the pioneers of African writing and the younger generation of postcolonial writers. After imprisonment in 1978, Ngũgĩ abandoned using English as the primary language of his work in favor of Gikuyu, his native tongue. The transition from colonialism to postcoloniality and the crisis of modernity ha ...more
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“The present predicaments of Africa are often not a matter of personal choice: they arise from a historical situation. Their solutions are not so much a matter of personal decision as that of a fundamental social transformation of the structures of our societies starting with a real break with imperialism and its internal ruling allies. Imperialism and its comprador alliances in Africa can never develop the continent.” 3 likes
“Prescription of the correct cure is dependent on a rigorous analysis of the reality.” 0 likes
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