Ngugi wa Thiong’o

1938–
Kenyan author

Writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o is known not only for his literary work but also for his political protests and his commitment to writing in African rather than European languages. Born into a peasant family of the GIKUYU people near NAIROBI, KENYA, Ngugi received an education at a colonial high school. He began to write while attending Makerere University College in UGANDA. Ngugi also studied at Leeds University in England, where he developed leftist political views.

In 1967 Ngugi became the first African member of the University of Nairobi’s English department. He influenced Kenya’s cultural life in two ways: he was the first African to publish creative LITERATURE in English, and he promoted a course of study focused on African subjects, which other African universities used as a model. In 1978 Ngugi was imprisoned for a year because of his protests against government policies. In prison he decided that he would write only in Gikuyu.

The university did not restore Ngugi to his post, but he continued to work in Kenyan THEATER. Still at odds with the government and fearing another arrest, Ngugi left Kenya for London in 1982. He then moved to the United States, where he has taught at Yale University and New York University. Ngugi continues to write about the ways in which Africa and its people are dominated and manipulated by non-Africans.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o