Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance
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Paperback: 224 pages
Book Review by Kam Williams
The colonization of Africa and the Atlantic slave trade has left most people of African descent with a nagging sense of inferiority. This is the thesis of Ngugi wa Thiong’o who believes that Europeans over the past six centuries or so succeeded in stripping the continent of its culture, natural resources, inhabitants and spirituality, while simultaneously spreading the belief throughout the world that Africans were godless savages and that blackness was ’a mark of inferiority.’
In his intriguing new book, Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance, Mr. Thiong’o argues that separating Africans from their native language played a critical in not only their exploitation but in their continued capitulation to being regulated to second-class status today. The author goes on to say that black folks today suffer from an unrequited ’quest for wholeness,’ a thirst for knowledge of self which can never be satiated so long as they speak and write solely in the languages of their former slave masters and colonizers. For English, Spanish, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese are rife with subtle color-coded symbols and messages which will only continue to reinforce racist notions of white supremacy for generations to come.
At times, Thiong’o certainly sounds like an impractical
dreamer, given the abject state of the African diaspora. For
instance, in America, the bulk of black children never bother to
master English. So, what makes anybody think they’d suddenly be
the least bit interested in studying Swahili? That being said,
Something Torn and New does nonetheless make a passionate, if
not ultimately persuasive case for the restoration of dignity to
the black man via the serious study of lost languages and a
cultural roots renaissance.