Decolonising the Mind – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
In Decolonising the Mind, 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
“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.”
Taking as a founding principle that imperialism and its internal allies will never develop Africa, he critiques the notion that tribal conflict is the source of discord in Kenya and across the continent (invariables like biological nationality cannot be the true source of conflict, which would be eternal and unchanging if that were the case, he says). Rather, the divide and rule practices of colonialism are at the root of such conflict. He identifies two traditions of thought in Kenya: the imperialist tradition of the international bourgeoisie and ‘flag waving native ruling classes’ and subjugation of the people enforced by police boots, barbed wire, clergy & judiciary, supported by state intellectuals and the resistance tradition of the working people/peasantry and ‘patriotic’ petty-bougeoisie/middle class including students and intellectuals, supporting all nationalities in the area against imperialist domination.
Many African writers have expressed concern to enrich Western literature by making African wisdom accessible and translatable – Ngugi asks why they do not centre the African tradition and seek to enrich that with riches from foreign cultures.