Ngugi wa Thiong'o

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Ngugi wa Thiong'o

(ĕngo͞o`gē wä tē-ŏng`gō) or

James Ngugi,

1938–, Kenyan writer, acclaimed as East Africa's foremost novelist. He studied at universities in Uganda and England. His first novel, Weep Not, Child (1964) and his second, A Grain of Wheat (1967), are accounts of the Mau MauMau Mau
, secret insurgent organization in Kenya, comprising mainly Kikuyu tribespeople. They were bound by oath to force the expulsion of white settlers from Kenya. In 1952 the Mau Mau began reprisals against the Europeans, especially in the "white highlands," claimed as Kikuyu
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 rebellion. Ngugi is particularly concerned with preserving native African languages, and in 1977 he wrote (with Ngugi wa Mirii) and directed a play, Ngaahika Ndeenda (tr. I Will Marry When I Want, 1982), in Kikuyu. The production was so popular among Kikuyu farmers and workers that the government, fearing the play would encourage political dissent, banned it. Arrested and detained (1978–79) for his novel Petals of Blood, Ngugi wrote about his prison experience in Detained: A Writer's Prison Diary (1981). After his release, he continued to write in Kikuyu and English. In 1982 he went into self-imposed exile in London, later settling in the United States, where he now is a professor at the Univ. of California, Irvine. A triumphant trip home in 2004 was cut short when he and his wife were brutally attacked in Nairobi; they soon returned to the United States.

Ngugi's literary targets have included governmental corruption, socioeconomic exploitation, and religious hypocrisy. Some of his writings, such as the novels Petals of Blood (1977), his last novel in English; Caitaani mutharaba-ini (1980; tr. Devil on the Cross, 1982), his first novel in Kikuyu, written while he was in prison; and Matigari (1986, tr. 1990), are still politically controversial. Ngugi's lengthy novel Murogi wa Kagogo (2004, tr. Wizard of the Crow, 2006) is a surreal, allegorical, and satirical fantasia of corruption, venality, and shape-shifting magic in a fictional postcolonial country resembling his homeland—and other 20th-century African nations. His nonfiction works include Barrel of a Pen (1983), Decolonising the Mind (1986), Moving the Centre (1992), and Penpoints, Gunpoints, and Dreams (1998). He also has written children's books.


See his memoirs, Dreams in Times of War (2010) and In the House of the Interpreter (2012); studies by C. B. Robson (1979), G. D. Killam (1980; as ed., 1984), D. Cook and M. Okenimkpe (1983, repr. 1997), C. Sicherman (1990), C. M. Nwankwo (1992), H. Narang (1995), C. Cantalupo, ed. (1995), I. B. Lar and T. I Ogundare (1998), J. Ogude (1999), S. Gikandi (2000), O. Lovesey (2000), P. Nazareth, ed. (2000), and J. G. Ndigirgi (2006).

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He saw to it that writers of the calibre of Alex La Guma, Taha Hussein, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Doris Lessing, Ayi Kwei Armah, Tayeb Salih, Bessie Head, Cheik Hamidou Kane, and Okot p'Bitek--as well as nationalist leaders such as Amilcar Cabral, Nelson Mandela, Kenneth Kaunda, Jomo Kenyatta and Kwame Nkrumah--were all published.
AFTER THE DEATH OF THE HEINE-mann's African Writers Series that published the work of some of Africa's great writers such as Chinua Achebe, Ayi Kwei Armah, Ngugi wa Thiongo and many others, a new imprint of African writers series has risen from the ashes.
The renown African historian, late Joseph Kizerbo and the Kenyan writer, Ngugi wa Thiongo have lamented the invaluable need for collaboration on what could be termed as looking in from within.
Ngugi wa Thiongo (1981:72) adds more weight to this argument by postulating that "literature has often given us more insights into the moving spirit of an era than all the historical and political documents treating the same moments in a society's development".
For Ngugi wa Thiongo (1999: no pagination), it is such challenges as "the question of language that goes to the heart of the very being and existence of the African or for that matter any community deprived of its language ".
Male writers like Chinua Achebe, Elechi Amadi, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, and Cyprain Ekwensi in their literary mass are accused of condoning patriarchy, are deeply entrenched in a macho conviviality and a one dimensional and minimalised presentation of women who are demoted and assume peripheral roles.
As Ngugi wa Thiongo has explained, colonialism entails establishing mental control over the colonized.
Ngugi wa Thiongo (1981: 11) like every African child who participated in storytelling acknowledges the beauty characteristic of narrative sessions when he writes, "we learnt the music of our language on top of the content.
The brief but very informative introduction written by Ngugi wa Thiongo prepares the appetite of the reader for the great variety of images of Ethiopia and Africa, past and present, real and unreal: "Tuma brilliantly captures the contradictions that make up the real Ethiopia of the twentieth century.
Van also established the Heinemann African Writers Series through which he helped novelists like Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Wole Soyinka, Ayi Kwei Armah and Ngugi Wa Thiongo to become writers of international repute.
Ngugi Wa Thiongo admits to having been inspired to write in his native Kikuyu after reading Dr.