In the book Decolonising the Mind by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, what does he mean when, in the last part, he talks about the "the quest for relevance"?

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Decolonizing The Mind by Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o advocates linguistic decolonization. It is a collection of essays about language and its constructive role in national culture, history, and identity. In 1977, the author decided to abandon English as his medium of expression and to write in his native Gikuyu...

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Decolonizing The Mind by Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o advocates linguistic decolonization. It is a collection of essays about language and its constructive role in national culture, history, and identity. In 1977, the author decided to abandon English as his medium of expression and to write in his native Gikuyu or Swahili. The book is based on various lectures he delivered in the early eighties. Decolonizing the Mind is divided into four essays.

The last essay titled “The Quest for Relevance” discusses the language of poetry. After the second World War, English became a part of the curriculum in all major cities of Africa. The literature depicted two types of Africans: good and bad. The good African was the one who collaborated with the colonizers. The bad African offered political and military resistance to the colonizers. The literature portrayed the imperialists as pragmatic and democratic people.

Ngugi emphasizes the need to discard the English literature syllabus as it is "inadequate and irrelevant to the needs of the country." He calls for a resumption of the native languages and the rediscovery of rich African culture and heritage.

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In his work Decolonizing the Mind, Ngugi wa Thiong'o has a very specific meaning when he speaks about the "quest for relevance."

For millennia, various parts of Africa had been subject to outside rule ("colonization"). Therefore, most of what African children learned in schools was not their own native literature and history, but the stories and histories, and cultures, of other nationalities.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o himself grew up speaking and writing in English. His first novel, written in English in 1964, was Weep Not, Child. However, after his embrace of the tenets of Fanonist Marxism, Ngugi wa Thiong'o renounced both English and Christianity, and changed his colonist name, "James Ngugi" to the one he is now known by.

After a stint in both prison and years in exile, Ngugi wa Thiong'o finally returned to his native Kenya were he was instrumental in the founding of the Kamiriithu Community Education and Cultural Centre, and this community center is a large part of what the author and activist means when he talks about the "quest for relevance" in Decolonizing the Mind. An article for the "Global Literacy Project," explains Ngugi wa Thiong'o reasons for emphasizing what is "native" to Kenya:

"According to Ngugi's way of seeing, you can't study African literature without studying the particular cultures and oral traditions from which Africans draw their plots, styles and metaphors."

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