Ngugi Wa Thiong'o


Ngugi wa Thiongo was born a gift to literature and the whole world in 1938 in Limuru in Kiambu District. When he was young, he was baptized as James Thiongo. He was born to a peasant family. He, however, had access to education like most children of that time. He went to schools in Kenya and studied at the prestigious Alliance High School. He later on was lucky to join Makerere University College for a bachelor’s degree in English. His interest in arts was noted then as it was during the time of his study there that the play The Black Hermit was produced. Two years later after the play, Ngugi wrote a novel while studying at Leeds University in England. Weep Not Child produced in 1964 saw Ngugi become the first East African writer to publish a book in English. A year later, The River Between was published in his name. The novel had a lot of background in the Mau Mau setup and this was a good way of honoring his brother who was taken in the war.

Ngugi actively Opposing Neocolonialism

In his attempt to honor his origin, he changed his name from James Ngugi to Ngugi wa Thiongo. He then stopped writing in English and wrote in Gikuyu and Swahili. Most of the works were now political and sparked a lot of heat in the country. He urged other African writers to write in their language to teach the people about neocolonialism. In his novel Ngahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want), he was said to be controversial. Despite being a work of fiction, some leaders thought it talked about a person in real life. The then Kenya Vice President Daniel Arap Moi saw this as an attack on the government. He authorized for the arrest of Ngugi. He served a year in prison and it was during this one year that he wrote the novel Caitaani Mutharaba-Ini (Devil on the Cross). When he left prison, he was not given back his job as a lecturer at the University of Nairobi. Moi also banned him from getting any job with the universities in Kenya. He went back to writing.

His Exile

The pressure from the government was too much and he went into exile with his family. During his exile time, he has written a lot of work about neocolonialism. He has also given lectures and taught at many universities around the world. He went back to Kenya in 2004 after Moi left power.