Postcolonial Language Debate

Topics: Nigeria, Dialect, Linguistics Pages: 2 (613 words) Published: May 11, 2010
The postcolonial language debate about African culture has become a big issue in determining if the African culture is actually being taught to younger generations. Some African writers believe that the culture of the African people is disappearing because all of the history books and novels written about African history and culture are in the English language. Other African scholars believe that they can finally break free from the postcolonial era by using English as a weapon. Chinue Achebe and Ngugi Wa Thiongo are great examples of African writers who take different sides about the English language and the postcolonial writings of African culture.

Ngugi is a firm believer that the English language is not how African culture should be viewed by outside countries and that the only way to know about African culture is to have it in its native language. He refuses to write any of his books in English and wants people to learn the native language because that is the only way African culture can really be learned. Language is very powerful and Ngugi believes was a way the English got rid of African culture. “By removing their native language from their education they are separated from their history which is replaced by European history in European languages “. Ngugi can recall growing up that he learned his culture and heritage through oral story telling by elders and the children would retell the stories to others. By being forced to learn English and being punished for acting or speaking in their native way, language was used as spiritual subjugation. “Language carries culture and culture carries the entire body of values by which we perceive ourselves and our place in the world”. If this is true how can the African culture be expressed in a different language?

Chinue Achebe took a different approach to the English language and the postcolonial language debate. He chose to learn the English language as a way to “infultrate the ranks of the enemy...
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