In the Caribbean and Africa regions, the language has mainly been used as the tool to colonize the people. It has been used as a major weapon in practicing imperialism.
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Many nations were influenced by the colonizers by the use of the English language through which they were forced to believe and act according to the will of their colonizers. By accepting the language, natives accepted various things about their colonizers. Language was used to colonize the natives through various ways.
Use of language to colonize people
In Caribbean and Africa regions, language has played a very important role in practicing imperialism. The colonies have taken advantage of their language to expand their economic, political and social powers. In the British schools, students were forced to read the British literature only they were rarely given opportunities to read about their own communities.
The colonizers taught their own language in their colonies and therefore this restricted the learners to the culture of their colonizers.
More often, English language was used in giving instructions in most of the institutions within Africa and Caribbean. The students were not given an opportunity to study other languages in school. Therefore, the colonizers determined what these students should read. They used this opportunity to expand their interests.
For instance, the natives could not access literature which informed on how they can be independent from the western forces. This made them to remain submissive despite of the difficulties they encountered. In other words, the language suppressed their chances of rejecting the British system.
Language is closely associated with culture. A certain language reflects the culture of the original speakers. For instance, English language demonstrates the English culture. Therefore, learning a foreign language implies learning the culture of the original speakers. It became easier to control the people on adopting the culture of the colonizers.
In most cases, language has been used in Caribbean and Africa to dominate the people both in their minds and hearts (Anonymous par 3). This is one way through which imperialism has been practiced in these regions.
Language can be seen as a unifying factor. English language brought many people together. It is easier to influence people when they are united than when they are diversified. Therefore, by unifying the people, the English language assisted the colonizers to gain more influence the local community. Similarly, when people are united
English language was also used in colonization in Caribbean and Africa through passing of the English culture. Most languages carry some cultural aspects of the original speakers.
For instance, it may reflect their beliefs, ways of living and traditions. Therefore, when the natives of these regions learnt the language, they adopted some of these cultural aspects. By adopting these cultural aspects, the people became more receptive to the directions received from their colonizers.
Fanon (31) talked about the colonizing culture. According to Fanon (31), English language was used in developing the colonizing culture. That is, the situation where colonization was viewed as any other day to day encounter.
It made people to become more satisfied of the existing system and therefore low levels of opposition. When the natives accept the language spoken by their colonizers, they are forced to accept their standards.
This is because they will be able to have an effective interaction through the same language. It would have been more difficult to influence the natives if they had not accepted the English language.
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In his book ‘Black face white mask’, Fanon demonstrated how the black people were made to behave like the whites (Fanon 31). Although the natives’ skin reflected their origin, it never reflected their culture. They were made to think and act like their colonizers. The languages they speak also reflect their colonizer’s backgrounds. Consequently, they acted according to the white man’s wishes.
Through the colonial language, the natives in the Caribbean and African region became alienated. This implies that they lost control of their own cultural elements. According to Fanon (32), the colonizers’ ambition to civilize the natives resulted into inert institutions which were dependent and were functioning under the supervision of their colonizers (Fanon 35).
In other words, through the language, the colonizers in Caribbean and Africa formed dependent institutions which relied on the colonizers for them to be effective.
Therefore, the colonizers managed to come with a system through which the institutions will be forced to function under their directions. This was one of the main process through which the natives became dominated by the colonizers.
By passing their languages to their colonies, the colonizers were not only creating their listeners, but also the readers and writers of their language (Mahadeo, par 6). The colonizers were able to get teachers who helped them in teachers others. In the process, these teachers pass to other natives.
In the process, the natives pass the culture of their colonizers to other natives. The literature provided to the colonies also reflected the colonizers way of living and experiences. This had a significant impact on the natives. They were made to believe on the western culture.
According to Thiongo (59), language can be destructive if it embraces only the foreign works and culture. In other words, the language can be very influential on the natives. This is because in most cases, language reflects the works and culture of the original speakers. It is important for the people to work in their own local language in order to have a successful interaction.
In the modern world, the former imperialism has also impacted on the people through language. For instance, the media reflects the western views through television, radio and other media (Thiong’o II par 5). The media has also contributed in the spreading of the cultural imperialism in the Caribbean and African countries.
Through his story ‘Decolonizing the Mind’, Ngugi believes that the western language has led to misinterpretation of the African culture (Thiongo 86). This has diverted the minds of the people from the reality. For instance, people are not able to realize that imperialism is the main cause of their suffering.
In other words, people’s vision is blurred from seeing the reality of the situation. In stead, they are made to believe exactly on the opposite.
In conclusion, this discussion has clearly shown that language was a very important tool which was used by colonizers in Caribbean and Africa. In these areas, English language was used in giving instructions to the natives in schools. The colonizers used this in selecting what the native were supposed to read.
They ensured that they don’t access any material which could enlighten them to oppose the system. By so doing, the colonizers were able to expand their political and economic powers across the region.
Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. London: Pluto Press, 1967. Print.
Mahadeo, Satish. “English – Colonial to Postcolonial: The Problematics of Writing in English in Mauritus.” Language, Society and Culture, 6 Apr. 2011. <https://www.utas.edu.au/>.
Thiong’o, John. “Review: Decolonizing the Mind.” The Complete Review, 2002. 6 Apr. 2011. <http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/kenya/ngugi1.htm>.
Thiong’o, John. Decolonizing The Mind: The Politics Of Language In African Literature. U.K: Currey, 1999. Print.