Innovation in Cultural Theory

Sanya Osha and Mammo Muchie

This article re-reads Ngugi wa Thiongo as a proponent of an interesting theory of African agency, cultural empowerment and linguistic re-inscription. This crucial aspect of his work deserves to be more rigorously studied because of its singularity in contemporary times and in the field of African studies and also due to the subtle reformulations it has undergone in the face of often dramatic global ideological events and reversals. It is interesting to observe how Ngugi wa Thiongo’s ideological postures are influenced by global discursive practices and events and how in turn he acts upon them. It is also remarkable to observe how some of the formulations of postcolonial theory resonate in his paradigm of decolonization. Finally, we suggest that the transformation of the global ideological structure after the political collapse of the former Soviet Union correlates with a political de-radicalization in wa Thiongo’s discursive profile and a slight de-ideologization, in other words, a modification (read as a somewhat innovative development) of his paradigm of decolonization. However, this ideological de-radicalization is accompanied by a greater appreciation of the notion of ambivalence that is inherent in conventional colonial relations.

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