the education of a british-protected child-chinua achebe

“I took my stand on this from the very beginning of my literary career, and have enunciated the position at different times and in varying forms of words. No serious writer can possibly be indifferent to the fate of any language, let alone his mother tongue. For most writers in the world, there is never any conflict-the mother tongue and the writing language are one and the same. But from time to time, and as a result of grave historical reasons, a writer may be trapped unhappily and invidiously between two imperatives. This is not new in the world. Even in the British Isles, the Irish, the Welsh, and the Scots may suffer anguish in using English, as James Joyce so memorably reminds us. Perhaps the real difference with Africa is the sheer size, the continental scale of the problem, and also-let’s face it-we look quite different from the English, the French, or the Portuguese!”

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2 thoughts on “the education of a british-protected child-chinua achebe

  1. “Unfortunately “elitist” has become a dirty word in contemporary usage. It was inevitable and indeed desirable that with the spread of democratic principles in the world, elite systems inherited from mankind’s immemorial past should be subjected, like any other received values and practices, to critical scrutiny and reappraisal. But in a world in which easy sloganeering so quickly puts the critical faculty to flight, what has happened to the word “elite” is a good example of how a once useful word can become manipulated to a point where it no longer facilitates thought but even inhibits it. But perhaps the cloud under which the word has come is not entirely undeserved. A word is more likely to become abused when the concept it represents has been corrupted.” (145)

    “Unfortunately, oppression does not automatically produce only meaningful struggle. It has the ability to call into being a wide range of responses between partial acceptance and violent rebellion. In between you can have, for instance, a vague unfocused dissatisfaction; or, worst of all, savage infighting among the oppressed, a fierce love-hate entanglement with one another like crabs inside the fisherman’s bucket, which ensures that no crab gets away. This is a serious issue for African-American deliberation.
    To answer oppression with appropriate resistance requires knowledge of two kinds: in the first place, self-knowledge by the victim, which means an awareness that oppression exists, an awareness that the victim has fallen from a great height of glory or promise into the present depths; secondly, the victim must know who the enemy is. He must know the oppressor’s real name, not an alias, a pseudonym, or a nom de plume!” (56-7)

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