Thiong’O and Rushdie- Compare and Contrast
The difference between two writers can be very similar or very different. Often times authors have similarities whether they are from different backgrounds or not. In some sort of way two authors can think the same way due to keeping original languages and upbringings in their writings. On the other hand, they can also differ immensely. Salman Rushdie and Ngugi wa Thiong’o had two different upbringings, education, and attitudes toward literature. An author’s upbringing makes an impact on their writing and viewpoints.
Rushdie is an Indian writer whom was born in 1947, during India’s independence from British rule. He grew up in a middle class family consisting of a lawyer as a father and a teacher as a mother, both being professional careers. On the contrary, Thiong’o was born in Kenya in 1938. Raised by a tenant farmer and accompanied by 30 siblings, his upbringing differs greatly from Rushdie. The language that each were accustomed to from birth also differs. Rushdie grew up speaking both Urdu and English, whereas Thiong’o spoke Gikuyu, later learning English.
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At age thirteen Rushdie was sent to Rugby school in England, then later graduated from Cambridge University. Rushdie’s Indian background caused him to be subtle to much racism from his pupils in his younger years, but his fluency in English was beneficial throughout his education. Thiong’o spent his schooling years in Kenya, receiving all of his formal education and a Bachelor’s of Arts. Unlike Rushdie, Thiong’o was not in an environment that required of him to speak purely English, that is until Kenya was taken over by Englishmen in 1952.
After that if the African Americans were caught speaking Gikuyu, they were punished by a paddle on the buttocks or made to carry a medal around their neck saying “I am stupid” or “I am a donkey”. Later, Thiong’o did work at the University College in Nairobi. There, he institutionalized a “Department of African Languages and Literatures”. First and foremost, Rushdie and Thiong’o differ in their writing because Rushdie writes in English whereas Thiong’o vowed to write his works in his native language after being released from imprisonment.
Rushdie was appreciative and welcoming towards the English tradition in his writing and thinking; on the other hand Thiong’o viewed western tradition as foreign and alien. Rushdie wrote fiction and brings up cultural references in his books and often “Indianizes” the English that is written in his works. He also takes in the “plural identities” that have resulted from globalization and emigration. Thiong’o on the other hand took Marxism’s ideas in and studied those three aspects of language as communication; those three elements are language of real life, speech, and written signals.
Thiong’o encourages all other African writers to write in native tongue. In conclusion, the two writers Thiong’o and Rushdie contrast in their writings very much. Due to upbringings in the home and schooling, they have differing opinions on the English language. Thiong’o was introduced and was forced to take upon English and was punished if it wasn’t used and appreciated his language Whereas Thiong’o writes all in his native language now, Rushdie appreciates English language and uses it in his fiction writings even though he “indianizes” it in his own way.