alienation [ˌeɪljəˈneɪʃən ˌeɪlɪə-]
1. a turning away; estrangement
2. the state of being an outsider or the feeling of being isolated, as from society 3. (Psychiatry) Psychiatry a state in which a person's feelings are inhibited so that eventually both the self and the external world seem unreal 4. (Law) Law
a. the transfer of property, as by conveyance or will, into the ownership of another b. the right of an owner to dispose of his property
In the late 19th and 20th century Africa, colonial regimes began mandating the exclusive use of European languages in missionary and state supported schools. The language of an African child’s formal education soon became foreign, writes Ngugi. ‘The language of books he read was foreign. The language of his conceptualization was foreign. Thought, in him, took the visible form of a foreign language.’ In Kenya, Ngugi himself studied every subject in English at school but spoke Gikuyu at home—a language spoken by more people than speakers of Danish or Croatian. ‘There was often not the slightest relationship between [English], and the world of his immediate environment in the family and the community.’ 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 I AM STUPID or I AM A DONKEY. Sometimes the culprits were fined money they could hardly afford. And how did the teachers catch the culprits? A button was initially given to one pupil who was supposed to hand it over to whoever was caught speaking his mother tongue. Whoever had the button at the end of the day would sing who had given it to him and the ensuing process would bring out all the culprits of the day. The children were turned into witch-hunters and in the process were being taught the lucrative value of...
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