‘Decolonising The Mind’ – A Review

Professor Ngugi wa Thiong’o,undoubtedly Kenya’s vanguard literary behemoth, pens a passionate call to African authors in this timeless book. The work of a series of lectures on the Politics of Language in African Literature, Decolonising The Mind has etched its place in the hallowed halls of literary excellence.

Professor Wa Thiong’o has seen it all. He has written and had his works published in magazines while he was still a student, he has taught and chaired the Literature Department at the University of Nairobi, he has been arrested and detained by his own government and has he been
exiled. A book has sufficed from each and every one of these events. Au font, he is the embodiment of: it’s never a failure, it’s always a lesson.

Paying homage to his predecessors and peers alike, among them; Prof. Micere Mugo, Chinua Achebe, Eddah Gachukia, Dr. Wasambo Were and Prof. Francis Imbuga, he continues to fight the good fight. He remains consistent in his call for total decolonisation and complete embracing of thetrueAfrican spirit – Cognizance that the present predicaments of Africa are often not a matter of personal choice but instead arise from a historical situation. Two, that their solutions lie in a fundamental social transformation of the structures of our societies starting with a real break with imperialism and its internal ruling allies.

He doesn’t mince his words in his criticism the Afro-European breed of writers who quintessentially continue to write in their coloniser’s language in lieu of their indigenous languages. True to his character, he has not only
talked the talk but also walked the walk. This particular book, written in 1977, was his last in English. All his books from then till now have either been in Gikuyu, his native language or Swahili.

In this book, he traces the systemic and deliberate undervaluing of Africa’sculture (art, religion,literature, etc) and the contemporaneous elevation of the colonialist’s own culture. He proudly points out the inimitable resilience of African languages. That unlike Latin, African languages refuse to die and become linguistic fossils to be excavated by foreigners.

His is a clarion call to African authors to unshackle themselves from the chains of neo-imperialism and to lead their countries forth to total emancipation of both mind and body.


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