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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
“As goes Anglophone culture, so goes the world,” is a saying that is powerfully justified in Agwu Ukiwe Okali’s Of Black Servitude without Slavery: The Unspoken Politics of the English Language (Africa Seminal Ideas Series), a work that brilliantly illustrates how language can become the new tool to conquer and control a group of people. English, the widely spoken language, has a hold on populations and that goes way beyond linguistic implications. Language always carries the soul of its people and English, undoubtedly, is a powerful vehicle of thought, which also illustrates the Anglophone mentality and ways of interpreting reality. By embracing the English language as a tool of expression, mentalities are tilted, even altered, to reflect the English culture, psyche, prejudices, and everything in-between. But how does the use of the English language reflect on the African? Such is the question that this book answers, and it does so in surprising ways.
To underline the influence of the English language across cultures, the author evokes the “… the ubiquitous and rapidly expanding influence, especially among the young, of pop music, pop dance, pop dressing, in fact, pop culture – carried to every corner of the globe on the wings of radio, television and the Internet.” With powerful and convincing examples, the author explores how humankind and the African, in particular, becomes vulnerable to the English spell. References to compelling historical figures like Obama, W.E.B. du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and others lends great credibility and authority to Okali’s arguments. The book is a powerful statement on how the English language has slowly become, over time, the new tool of enslavement for the African. Written in clear and highly descriptive prose, Of Black Servitude without Slavery: The Unspoken Politics of the English Language will become a timely addition to works on social anthropology, culture, history, human relations, and global economy. A well-researched, well-written, and a highly captivating book that will serve as an eye-opener for many readers. It is curious that such a work is written in English, and in very beautiful English, a powerful statement in itself. This is another powerful voice that should be listened alongside colossal figures like Achebe and Soyinka.