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Decolonising the mind : the politics of language in African literature

Author: Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo
Publisher: London : J. Currey ; Portsmouth, N.H. : Heinemann, 2011, ©1986.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Ngugi wa Thiong'o famously began his writing career writing in English (publishing under the name "James Ngugi"). He had considerable success, but eventually turned to writing in his mother tongue, Gikuyu (though he did translate and publish these later works in English too). Ngugi is among a handful of authors who have written successfully in more than one language -- Samuel Beckett and Vladimir Nabokov are among  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Criticism, interpretation, etc
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo, 1938-
Decolonising the mind.
London : J. Currey ; Portsmouth, N.H. : Heinemann, 1986
(OCoLC)609348179
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo
ISBN: 0435080164 9780435080167 0852555016 9780852555019
OCLC Number: 756192649
Description: xiv, 114 pages ; 22 cm
Contents: Towards the universal language of struggle --
The language of African literature --
The language of African theatre --
The language of African fiction --
The quest for relevance.
Responsibility: Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo.

Abstract:

Ngugi wa Thiong'o famously began his writing career writing in English (publishing under the name "James Ngugi"). He had considerable success, but eventually turned to writing in his mother tongue, Gikuyu (though he did translate and publish these later works in English too). Ngugi is among a handful of authors who have written successfully in more than one language -- Samuel Beckett and Vladimir Nabokov are among the few others -- but his reasons for doing so differ somewhat from those of other bilingual authors. Decolonising the Mind is both an explanation of how he came to write in Gikuyu, as well as an exhortation for African writers to embrace their native tongues in their art. The foreign languages most African authors write in are the languages of the imperialists -- English, French, and Portuguese -- that were relatively recently imposed on them. (Ngugi doesn't consider Arabic in the same light, nor Swahili.) Ngugi makes a good case for the obvious point: that the relation of Africans to those imposed languages is a very different one from that which the same Africans have to the native languages they speak at home. Speaking and writing in the language of the colonisers will naturally be different than in the language one speaks while at play or with one's family. In addition, the language of the coloniser is often a truly foreign one: segments of society understand it badly, if at all, and so certain audiences can not be reached by works in these imposed languages. (The validity of some of these points has, however, diminished over the past decades, as literacy has spread and French, Portuguese, and especially English have established themselves as linguae francae across much of the continent.) -- Review from http://www.complete-review.com (Oct. 7, 2011).

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