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Macaulaya member of the Supreme Council of Indiaobserved that Indian languages contain neither literary nor scientific information, and are, moreover, so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not be easy to translate any valuable work into them.He admitted that he did not know any Indian languages but insisted that he had nevertheless reached a correct estimate of their value.
In time, writes Ngugi, he begins to understand himself and his culture through the eyes of the colonizer—using the latter’s concepts, categories, and judgments.
Before too long, he turns into a proxy for his master: colonialism with a native face. The easiest method, explains Ngugi, is to actively spread his language among the natives, and to simultaneously denigrate the language of the natives as crude and unfit for proper education. Simply make the colonizer’s language the of imperial administration, accord prestige and upward mobility to those who learn it in colonial schools, and before too long, there is a feeding frenzy among a native minority.
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.
Shared ways of seeing, or culture, emerge through the shared use of language.
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In other words, culture is organically intertwined with language, evolving together to create a unique collective sensibility.When it comes to colonial quests, military might is what breaches the metaphorical Gates of Damascus. Thereafter, the most efficient and durable means of colonial control happens via culture.Culture holds the keys to how a group sees itself and knows its place in the world.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.Bilingual folks think differently when they immerse themselves in different languages. Colonial Languages and African Literature In the late 19th and 20th century Africa, colonial regimes began mandating the exclusive use of European languages in missionary and state supported schools. Thought, in him, took the visible form of a foreign language.Indeed, it was even worse: One of the most humiliating experiences was to be caught speaking [Gikuyu] in the vicinity of the school.The culprit was given corporal punishment three to five strokes of the cane on bare buttocks or was made to carry a metal plate around his neck with inscriptions such as .Nor is it a mere tool for describing the world as it truly isno language can be said to describe the world as it truly is.To use a languageany languageis to interpret the world in a particular way.