Mukoma wa Ngugi. 2018. “What Decolonizing the Mind Means Today.” Literary Hub, March 2018.

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Creative Commons Licence

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Created date

June 8, 2018

Critical Commentary

Angela Okune: This 2018 blog post by Ngugi wa Thiong'o's son, Mukoma articulates the continued relevance of the book. Borrowing literary critic Adam Beach's notion of an "English metaphysical empire," Mukoma highlights how English continues to be a marker of intelligence and class in Kenya (and other parts of the Anglophone Africa); in 2017, he visited his former elementary school where the second rule of the classroom is that speaking with one's vernacular language is prohibited. Mukoma argues that this illustrates the continued bond of postcolonial Africa and the English metaphysical empire. Mukoma sees the goal of the online journal, the Jalada Collective, as pushing forward the work of the Makerere generation (which included his father): "The Makerere generation...understood themselves as having a mission to contribute to decolonization; this generation sees itself as having the mission to create democratic spaces for African literature, languages and through internet use, a Pan-African readership. They want African languages to speak to each other, and to non-African languages, through translation." Mukoma has co-founded a Kiswahili prize with the express goal of "recognizing writing in African languages and encouraging translation from, between and into African languages." This is particularly interesting for this essay which seeks to better understand what "decolonizing the African university" might look like. Both Ngugi and Mukuma would likely argue that linguistic decolonization should be a first step.

Language

English