Ngugi: Language, Publics, and Production
Much of what constitutes postcolonial theory has been the effort of making the subaltern speak, of resurrecting the attenuated forms buried under the constraining authority of the colonial episteme and culture. Edward Said was the first to give new life, through postcolonial theory, to what in the African context was pronounced dead by Wole Soyinka in his interview with Biodun Jeyifo: the idea of “writing back” as a form of Prospero-Caliban syndrome. One of the key distinctions of African postcolonialism is the disarticulation of the very condition of postcolonialism as writing back, the most radical form of which is Ngugi’s imperative to write for his mother, in a language that she could understand. The language question is important as a factor in the calculus of producers of culture in determining what they are willing to risk their capital on.