Ngugi’s “Decolonizing The Mind” is an essay on language and how it communicates the culture of it’s users. Ngugi begins his essay by telling the reader about his life growing up in Kenya. He states they all spoke “Gikuyu”, and all told many stories about animals or humans. The over-arching theme of these stories were about the “apparent” weak outwitting the strong, or how a disaster forces co-operation (998). He continues to describe what makes a good story-teller. A good story teller, according to Ngugi, is one that is able to use language to make the same story seem interesting, and make stories told by others more exciting (998). Ngugi then goes on to describe the intruding colonization that occurred. Rapidly, everything he knew about his life was suppressed, and replacing it was the English language. English became to dominate language to learn, and anyone caught speaking Gikuyu was lashed. The only way to continue in education was to earn a credit in English, no matter how well you did elsewhere.
Ngugi describes language as the carrier of culture. Written, spoken, and “real life” or body-language is all used in harmony to define different cultures. Language conveys a culture’s standards and values, something that can’t be picked up by someone who doesn’t understand the language. When English was imposed into Ngugi’s culture, textbooks and teachings made his culture look inferior. The use of language can be used to convey complex messages, as in with the stories told, or used to control, as seen with colonization. Language is an extremely powerful tool that defines the human race, and it’s use can create amazing literature/media, or can be used to manipulate and control.