What Ngugi wa Thiong'o means by Decolonizing the Mind, Wits Lecture

2017-03-02 20:52

My first conversation with Ngugi wa Thiong'o was some years ago at the University of Limpopo. It was just few years after he published his masterpiece, Decolonising the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature. He came that time to talk and share personal experiences about the Mau Mau Revolution against Europe.The man is a Renaissance in the deep sense of that word.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o is one of the greatest Africans in the house of literature. He recreated a dysfunctional universe of meaning about Africa.

Tonight, this time around, Ngugi wa Thiong'oo was at Wits University. He provided an inspirational and uplifting lecture under the title Decolonising the Mind, Secure the Base. He started his lecture in a rather a gentle but powerful way (that is his style by the way). On a PowerPoint slide, he placed almost all the countries of the world into an African map. Every country in the world was swallowed up by the African map, except Australia. In one swoop Ngugi gave the much needed boost of confidence to the audience, which was largely African. He secured the base for Africa. He was kinder subliminally saying, there you are Africa, you are bigger than the rest. Is time you secure the base. It is time you occupy that space of dominance.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o first important novel A Grain of Wheat was published on the shadows of the Mau Mau Rebellion. The The Mau Mau Rebellion, also known as the Mau Mau Uprising, Mau Mau Revolt, or Kenya Emergency was a military army against the British that has settled Kenya. The Mau Mau Revolt has affected Ngugi wa Thing'o so tremendously that even today he is still involved in the struggle against the dispossession of Africa, this time the African mind. He has set himself on a mission to decolonise the African mind. Big project.

With Julius Malema At Wits University, Ngugi wa Thiong'o was in that class again, he offered a critique on how Africa is exploited as a chessboard of global geopolitical wolves. A continent so well endowed has actually no business in hosting poverty. The gist of Decolonising the Mind is that Africa is being soft-bomb by foreign public opinion and public discourse, and Africans should wake up from their slumbers and realize this. The minds of Africans are pulled by invisible strings.  The new and real occupation of Africa is in the minds of Africans. The occupation is powerful. Africa is being chopped on the chopping block. The colonization of the minds of Africans is by erecting oppressive structures in their psyche with little resistance to intention from the people. Ngugi wa Thiong'o says, for every conquest to be complete, it attacks the principal part, the mind and local cosmologies, on which the conqueror and its agents proceed to rewrite or rewire the conceptual genetic blueprint of the conquered, to suit their plans.

At the center of Ngugi wa Thiong'o Wits lecture was Nkwame Nkrumah. He said that Nkwame Nkrumah called for the sharing of experiences as part of a common endeavor of presenting African history as the history of African people and not as the history written by Europeans and Americans about African people.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o asks, have we regained the cultural and intellectual heritage we lost to colonialism and apartheid?

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