Cultural Imperialism in Ake : Wole Soyinka

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In the advancement of European empires, the widespread approach to colonizing foreign lands was through violence. The Europeans would arrive in new territories with their sophisticated weapons and ideals, and would forcibly subjugate the indigenous people. However, in the instance of the English colonization of Nigeria’s town Ake, the English colonists implemented colonization through cultural imperialism.

The English began implementing their process of cultural imperialism through converting the people of Ake into their religion, Christianity. The English, like most colonizing countries, understood that influencing the Nigerian people would come much easier once they were under religious control. The English utilized the brilliant ploy of employing Nigerians to spread Christianity to their own people. The Nigerians who compromised and promoted English concepts were rewarded for their deeds. For example Wole Soyinka’s family was rewarded by being given the security of a parsonage. However, this was actually given as a result of Essay’s contribution to the spread of English education, through his position as headmaster of the school.

Education, therefore, became another aspect of English culture used to promote cultural imperialism in Ake. The Nigerians were made to assimilate many English ideals through the education process, which commenced at a young age. The English also required the Nigerians to study their language. By teaching the people of Ake English, the English colonists were able to engrave their ideals into them. The education system furthermore was able to be used to keep a watchful eye on the students, and to control the mindsets of the best and brightest of them. This use of cultural imperialism helped prevent Nigerian intellectuals from becoming political opponents. The English accomplished this by having a government school for advanced students.

Although the English didn’t openly colonize the Nigerians through violence, there was a...
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