To create an unbreakable bond of slavery- even in the presence of immense distance (that is the case in post-colonialism which makes decolonization compulsory)- the imprisonment of minds is needed. With physical force you can break people’s bones but not their will to fight for their rights, but invading their minds will make you the player of the game i.e their minds. It will give you the control to drive their minds in any way you want. To strengthen and enhance its effect just penetrate into their social hierarchy and BOOM! you’re the masters of these delusive toilers, unaware of their slavery.
Colonialism has not only dominated our discourses but also it has invaded into the very essence of this land and its inhabitants. Eliminating it from our discourses is definitely our dire need however, in my opinion our first priority should be to erase it from our minds along with annihilating the parts of ourselves which use it as a weapon to attain power and to fulfill our personal greedy desires and also utilize it to justify their immoral acts. Sadly, decolonization is a very tricky and complex procedure as the majority of the people use it as an excuse to not perform their duties and conceal their cowardliness. I can give an example from my life, one time I walked past a group of auto-rickshaw drivers injecting drugs into their bodies. I suggested that we should call the police and get them arrested so they can be admitted to a rehabilitation center where they can get sober but, I was told to just quietly walk away and not call the police as it’s dangerous. When I tried to explain what’s actually dangerous is that these drugs have altered their minds in such a way that their conscience is dead and their emotions don’t function normally and this makes them capable of becoming a killer or rapist and it’s extremely dangerous as these auto-rickshaw drivers pick and drop people from the early mornings to the late nights and now that we are aware of it so isn’t it our duty to make sure people are safe?. Sorrowfully, the reply I got after explaining this was: “Yehan aaisa nhi hota. Ye America nhi Pakistan hai. Yehan har baat pe police ko nhi buliya jata. Ye koi Western country nhi hai.” (“This is not how things work here. This is Pakistan not America. This is not some Western country where you can call the police anytime.”)
Alas! This is how the majority of people approach decolonization incorrectly to make an excuse to not fulfill their moral duties just because they’re scared or simply because they don’t care enough. Another example is that here whenever you raise your voice against a parent beating his child, you get the reasoning: “Yehan aaisa he hota hai. Ye koi America thora na hai jahan bachay ko marna manna ho. Yehan thori na bacha police bula skta is baat pe.” (“This is how it happens here. This is not America where beating your child is illegal. The kid can’t call the police to seek protection.”) This is not decolonization but absolutely being an inhumane monster violating human rights. Woefully, people give it the name of decolonization just because they’re doing the exact opposite of something that the Western world does.
Decolonization isn’t about opposing what the Western world does or preaches, it’s resisting their dominance and attempt to erase our culture and most importantly it’s about escaping their slavery especially the mental slavery that has imprisoned us for years. Mental slavery is the worst as it blindfolds you with the illusion of freedom. Hence, it’s implausible to detect such a camouflaged slavery which makes it hard to find a way to break through it. However, an effective way to diagnose such slavery is to look for the indigeneity in one’s culture and discourse.
We are obliquely imposing colonialism on our next generations by allowing our own potential to stay suppressed while we cherish the Western customs which have invaded our land and discourses. Parents take pride in their children talking fluent English, watching English channels and it’s the priority of every parent that their children attend English medium schools. The reason behind is ostensible; we are suffering from the inferiority complex. We are ashamed to be Pakistanis and this is the reason why almost every Pakistani residing in a foreign country hides his true nationality. They are scared to be recognized as someone who has such strong ties to this land. We are not confident. We are not aware of our true potential because we are too busy admiring the Western world all the time that we are forever comparing ourselves with them, even on a subconscious level because whenever we say “Yehan assa nhi hota. Ye America ya Europe nhi Pakistan hai.” (This is not how it’s done here. This is not America or Europe, this is Pakistan.) we are unwittingly comparing ourselves to them. This comparison needs to be stopped because it makes us feel inferior and we start admiring and copying them instead of doing our own thing and witnessing the magic of our potential. Contemporary Pakistani shows like “Pakistan Idol” and “Peekaboo Shahwiz” are a copy of American shows and these shows are pathetic and nothing in front of our original Pakistani TV shows so it shows how we copying them like a maniac will only drag us down. Yes, we should follow the good things they have but we shouldn’t lose our own identity and potential in copying them.
Many approaches have been used as an attempt to let the decolonization breathe in this land to break-free from the Western slavery. Almost every decolonial spadework suggests to liberate the higher education sector from the burden of colonized discourses but in my opinion decolonizing the higher education domain isn’t going to be much effective because by the time a person reaches that stage, his mind has already been shaped by the colonized discourse as every child watches Western cartoons and shows. This is why they know about their culture but not ours. Every child knows about Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas etc. but they aren’t aware of their own culture and traditions. Decolonization of discourse is indeed requisite but decolonizing the culture is of the same significance. Decolonization and indigenization must go hand in hand. My mentor, Dr. Shahzeb Khan who is currently teaching at The University of the Punjab, once mentioned to me: “Subcultures of decoloniality have to be formed.” And I can’t emphasize this enough because it’s the most crucial step towards decoloniality. To influence on a massive scale, you must impact the smaller units which ultimately build up the foundation. Hence, to bring a change in a culture, it’s essential to postulate subcultures. So, if decolonialized subcultures are introduced then we can decolonize our culture.
For the execution of an effective decolonial plan, it must be divided into individual level and collective level. To decolonize at an individual level is tricky so it’s important to choose a potential source. Since we can’t decolonize the minds of people on a massive scale, we need to focus on decolonizing the minds of the people who have an influence on the majority. It’s attainable to decolonize some minds so let those minds be of the powerful figures which people follow because these people will influence the majority effortlessly. I call it “Influencing the minds of the influencers”. Then on the collective level it’s important to focus on the people who will be brainstorming ideas and then especially experimenting to seek the most effective way of decolonization by creating subcultures of decoloniality. Then this can help decolonize the institutions according to the best-founded ways by experiments. This approach will be attracting many people eliminating as much resistance as possible as people hate to be restricted and not having the authority to express their ideas for more improvements. Hence, in order to be successful, a framework must be alterable and not be forcefully applied.
Our problem is that we wallow in self-pity and self-sabotaging because we as Pakistanis feel inferior to the Western world so we let them rule over us. This is the reason why some political figures vocalize to the Western royalty that we are still their slaves. So, it’s basically us who are letting them rule over us despite them being physically gone from this land long ago. This has to be stopped. We need to accept our freedom! The freedom that our forefathers earned for us with the sacrifices of their lives. This freedom that we take for granted is a gift that we need to embrace, cherish and preserve.
Demented obsession with the Western world is disastrous for our culture and traditions as this manic approach endangers the survival of our own heritage. I’m not saying we should completely boycott and steer clear of the Western modus operandi and mannerism, what I intend is to cascade light on the fact that we have this social, cultural and traditional imbalance which is leading towards the demolition of our ancestral foundations on this land. Our goal should be to preserve it as this precious gift is our identity in this enormous world.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.