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Ngugi and Five Bandits
"Knowing our language is the best way to deal with globalization." This is what Ngugi said to the question, "how we should think of the hierarchical relation between the dominant English language and our native tongue in the process of recent globalization?" Ngugi wa Thiong'o, a prominent Kenyan writer and scholar of African literature, gave a special lecture at the Manhae Hall on May 28, whose title was "Postcolonialism and Ecology." He has been famous for his debate with a Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe over the issue of which language should be used after independence in the field of postcolonial study. Achebe insisted on using English after Nigerian independence on the basis of practical reasons: it is easy to use English for communication among Nigerian people whose native languages are diverse and it is better to use English when trading with other countries.
On the contrary, Ngugi has kept the stance that African own sensibilities and experiences could not be fully expressed without African people's own languages. So he abandoned using English as the primary language of his work in favor of Gikuyu, his native tongue after imprisonment in 1978. The first novel he wrote in Gikuyu is CAITAANI MUTHARA-INI (Devil on the Cross). After on, he has been writing novels in Gikuyu and he still thinks that appreciating native tongue is the only strategy for marginalized languages to survive by themselves under the sweeping of English-centered globalization.
 Ngugi's politics of indigenous languages reminds us of how precious Korean language is and we should be aware of how to cultivate it in the emerging multicultural global community. Furthermore, concerning the cross-national influence of Korean literature, Ngugi mentioned that Korean intellectuals should be proud of the tradition of Korean literature. Surprisingly, he mentioned that one of great writers he was influenced by was Kim Ji-Ha, once the anti-government Korean poet. During his imprisonment in Kenya, he said, he read Kim Ji-Ha's Five Bandits, which triggered him to write the protest novel, CAITAANI MUTHARA-INI. The novel, translated into Devil on the Cross in English, has been widely read all over the world. Ngugi, an old exile writer with an endless affection for marginalized language and literature, left the marvelous message to the audience, "don't forget your heritage, it is the best means of giving visibility to the marginalized people."

Kim Ae-ju  leesj117@dongguk.edu

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