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Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o


Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o was born in 1938 in Kamiriithu, near Limuru as James Ngugi. His father was a tenant farmer who had four wives and twenty-eight children. Ngũgĩ initially attended a missionary school but then was sent to a Gikuyu school. However, after the State of Emergency in 1952, all schools had to teach in English. He was not directly involved in the Mau Mau uprising but his older brother was and, as a result, their mother was arrested and tortured. After attending the prestigious Alliance High School, he went to Makerere University College in Kampala, where he studied English. It was during this period that he started writing, including a play, short stories and his first novels. After university, he worked for a brief while as a reporter before going to the University of Leeds. His first novel – Weep Not, Child – was published while he was there.

It was at this time that he became more politically active. He changed his name to Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and started writing in his native Gikuyu. After independence, he became very critical of the Kenyan government and was imprisoned for writing the very political play Ngaahika Ndeenda: Ithaako ria Ngerekano (I Will Marry When I Want). After his release, he left for London and then the United States, returning to Kenya only briefly in 2004. There were rumours of assassination attempts by the Kenyan government. He has continued to write, including much non-fiction, and has worked for human rights in Kenya. His first novel for over twenty years was published in Gikuyu in 2004.

Other links

His homepage
Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Ngugi wa Thiong’o: An Overview
Profile: Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Ngugi wa Thiong’o 1938-
Ngugi Wa Thiong’o Biography
Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o writes truth to power, speaking a language it can understand. Trouble is, sometimes power answers back
Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Exile and Resistance
Ngugi laments Kenya violence
The Nobel Committee got it wrong: Ngugi wa Thiong’o is the writer the world needs now


1964 Weep Not, Child
1965 The River Between
1967 A Grain of Wheat
1968 The Black Hermit
1970 This Time Tomorrow: Three Plays
1972 Homecoming: Essays on African and Caribbean Literature, Culture and Politics
1975 Secret Lives and Other Stories (later: Minutes of Glory and Other Stories )
1976 The Trial of Dedan Kimathi (with Micere Githae-Mugo)
1977 Petals of Blood
1980 Caitaani Mutharaba-ini (Devil on the Cross)
1980 Ngaahika Ndeenda: Ithaako ria Ngerekano (I Will Marry When I Want) (with Ngugi wa Mirii)
1981 Detained: A Writer’s Prison Diary
1981 Writers in Politics
1981 Education for a National Culture
1982 Njamba Nene na Mbaathi i Mathagu (Njamba Nene and the Flying Bus)
1983 Barrel of a Pen: Resistance to Repression in Neo-Colonial Kenya
1984 Bathitoora ya Njamba Nene (Njamba Nene’s Pistol)
1986 Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature
1986 Matigari ma Njiruungi (Matigari)
1986 Mother, Sing For Me
1986 Writing against Neo-Colonialism
1986 Njamba Nene na Chibu King’ang’I (Njamba Nene and the Cruel Chief)
1987 The First Walter Rodney Memorial Lecture, 1985
1990 Njamba Nene’s Pistol
1993 Moving the Centre: The Struggle for Cultural Freedoms
1996 Penpoints, Gunpoints, and Dreams: Toward a Critical Theory of the Arts and the State in Africa
1997 Writers in Politics: A Re-Engagement with Issues of Literature and Society
2004 Murogi was Kagogo (Wizard of the Crow)
2009 Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance
2010 Dreams in a Time of War: a Childhood Memoir
2012 In the House of the Interpreter (memoir)
2015 Secure the Base: Making Africa Visible in the Globe (essays)
2016 Birth of a Dream Weaver (memoir)
2019 Minutes of Glory (stories)
2018 Kenda Mũiyũru (The Perfect Nine)
2019 The Upright Revolution (story)
2022 The Language of Languages