Rants & Epiphanies
•••
“Wisdom that will bless I, who live in the spiral joy born at the utter end of a black prayer.” • — Keiji Haino
“The subject of human creativity is not an ethnic-centric, but a composite subject.” • — Anthony Braxton
“… It is not my mode of thought that has caused my misfortunes, but the mode of thought of others.” • — The Marquis de Sade

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Hopes and Impediments || Chinua Achebe









Although I have used the word “wilful” a few times here to characterize the West’s view of Africa, it may well be that what is happening at this stage is more akin to reflex action than calculated malice. Which does not make the situation more but less hopeful.

  The Christian Science Monitor, a paper more enlightened than most, once carried an interesting article written by its Education Editor on the serious psychological and learning problems faced by little children who speak one language at home and then go to school where something else is spoken. It was a wide-ranging article taking in Spanish-speaking children in America, the children of migrant Italian workers in Germany, the quadrilingual phenomenon in Malaysia and so on. And all this while the article speaks unequivocally about language. But then out of the blue sky comes this:


  In London there is an enormous immigration of children who speak Indian or Nigerian dialects, or some other native language.


  I believe that the introduction of “dialects,” which is technically erroneous in the context, is almost a reflex action caused by an instinctive desire of the writer to downgrade the discussion to the level of Africa and India. And this is quite comparable to Conrad’s withholding of language from his rudimentary souls. Language is too grand for these chaps; let’s give them dialects!

  In all this business a lot of violence is inevitably done not only to the image of despised peoples but even to words, the very tools of possible redress. Look at the phrase “native language” in the Christian Science Monitor excerpt. Surely the only native language possible in London is Cockney English. But our writer means something else—something appropriate to the sounds Indians and Africans make!

  Although the work of redressing which needs to be done may appear too daunting, I believe it is not one day too soon to begin. Conrad saw and condemned the evil of imperial exploitation but was strangely unaware of the racism on which it sharpened its iron tooth. But the victims of racist slander who for centuries have had to live with the inhumanity it makes them heir to have always known better than any casual visitor, even when he comes loaded with the gifts of a Conrad.”



Excerpt From: Chinua Achebe. “Hopes and Impediments






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