“In colonial conquest, language did

to the mind what the sword did to the bodies of the colonised.”

–Ngũgĩwa Thiong’o

Ngũgĩwa Thiong’o is considered the founding father of the decolonising discourse

 

The colonisation project of the world outside Europe left deep marks on the regions that experienced Western colonisation. The civilizational mission changed the traditional societies and traditions upside down. Not only the thinking of the colonised people was stunted, but the process of European colonisation also forced the colonial nations to accept the stereotypes against the non-Europeans, which were only propagated to perpetuate the rule of white nations on people of colour. One of the most potent weapons that have left the people divided in the formerly colonised parts of the earth was language.

Imposing the languages like French and English on the occupied people had far-reaching consequences on the thinking of people. While some adopted the languages of Empires as languages necessary for upward mobility, others considered the imposition of these languages as an assault on their traditions, cultures and ways of life.

However, thinkers during the second half of the previous century started an academic exercise to gauge the impact of western colonisation. The most prominent thinkers, who challenged the Western assertion that colonialism was crucial to the development of agrarian and tribal societies of Asia and Africa, include the likes of Gayatri Spivak, Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and Ngugiwa Thiong’o. Ngugi in his most seminal work, Decolonising the Mind, has put forward a strong case against how the colonial languages hamper independent thinking in the decolonised world.