Guide Moving the Centre: The Struggle for Cultural Freedoms (Studies in African Literature)

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When I travel from New York to other parts of the world I see that the whole world is connected—but in the image of the beggar…. With the political party of President Daniel arap Moi finally out of power in , Ngugi began exploring the possibility of traveling to Kenya. In , Ngugi returned to Kenya for the first time since His return was to promote his first piece of novel since Matigari. His novel, the first installment of a six-volume story, Murogi wa Kagogo translated as Wizard of the Crow , is set in the fictitious country of Aburiria.

In it, Ngugi offers complex musings about dictatorship, humanity, cultural legacy, and Western influence on Africa in a story. Though in his review of the book in the New Yorker John Updike wrote that Ngugi offered "more indignation than analysis in his portrait of postcolonial Africa," Jumana Farouky of Time. East African schools, teacher, ; University of Nairobi, Kenya, lecturer in English literature , , later became senior lecturer and chair of literature department; Makerere University, creative writing fellow, ; Northwestern University, visiting lecturer, ; exiled from Kenya, ; New York University, New York City, professor of African and Caribbean literatures, theater, film, and cultural theory, early s; University of California at Irvine, distinguished professor, s-.

Coming home revived me in spirit, which is very important. Four men were arrested and security guards surrounded Ngugi to ensure his and his wife's safety. Instead of immediately cancelling the tour and leaving the country, Ngugi and his wife openly grieved with the Kenyan public about the attack and the rape of Ngugi's wife. Despite the sour taste left by the attack on he and his wife, Ngugi remained optimistic about his visit to Kenya. Dixon related Ngugi's comment: "'We have to keep rising up, rising up, rising up.

Ngugi Wa Thiongo |

As he observed to the Guardian : "I feel very happy about my stand. I met a lot of hostility. But now in Kenya many books are being written in Gikuyu, and theatre in African languages is quite common. The younger generation will have a choice. Caitaani mutharaba-ini , Heinemann Educational, , translation by the author published as Devil on the Cross , Zimbabwe Publishing, Matigari ma Njiruungi , Heinemann, , translation by Wangui published as Matigari , Heinemann, Zell, Los Angeles Times, August 20, , p.

Johns University, www. Formerly wrote as James T. Nationality: Kenyan. Family: Married Nyambura in ; five sons and three daughters. Awards: East African Literature Bureau award, Weep Not, Child. London, Heinemann, ; New York , Collier, The River Between. London, Heinemann, Petals of Blood. London, Heinemann, ; New York , Dutton, Caitaani Mutharaba-ini in Kikuyu. Matigari in Kikuyu.

SearchWorks Catalog

Secret Lives and Other Stories. London, Heinemann, and New York , Hill, Nairobi, East African Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Heinemann, ; London, Heinemann, London, Heinemann, ; New York, Hill, Lagos, Afrografika, Writers in Politics: Essays. Oxford, England and Portsmouth, New Hampshire , Education for a National Culture. Harare , Zimbabwe PublishingHouse, London, Currey, Walter Rodney 's Influence on the African Continent.

London, Friends of Bogle, Ngugi wa Thiong'o was a Kikuyu adolescent in Kenya during the Mau Mau Rebellion, and the events of those years, of the larger issues of black dispossession by white settlers, and of the history of the Kikuyu from pre-colonial times to the present, lie at the center of his novels and most of his short stories. He was the first Anglophone African writer to give in fiction a Kikuyu view of the bitter colonial war that the British called the Mau Mau Emergency — a healthy corrective to other fictional accounts, like Robert Ruark's, from a white man's point of view.

Ngugi's attitudes to larger political questions are by no means unambiguous in his first two novels hence some considerable uncertainty of craftsmanship in them but what emerges clearly from The River Between the first to be written, but the second published is a deep sense of African deprivation and of the desire to win back a lost heritage.

It is expressed in Weep Not, Child through Ngotho's religious attachment to the land of his ancestors taken from him by Mr.

Howlands, and through his older sons' determination to fight for their lands by joining the Mau Mau. But Ngugi is also aware of another part of the African heritage diminished by white colonialism — the Kikuyu religion and tribal culture; it is this aspect of their disinheritance that figures particularly in The River Between. The river is a symbol of sustenance and growth, but it also divides the christianized half of the tribe from the adherents of the traditional tribal ways, soon after the advent of colonialism. Waiyaki, the hero, is an idealistic youth, who dreams with messianic fervor of leading his people out of colonial tutelage, peacefully, by acquiring the white man's education.

He would also reconcile the two religiously divided villages; though associated with the traditionalists, he loves a daughter of the fanatical Christian Kikuyu pastor. But Waiyaki's enthusiasm for Western education blinds him to political methods, and he is rejected by his people.

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The weakness of the novel is that Ngugi romanticizes and glamorizes Waiyaki: his tribal opponents are presented as vindictive personal enemies; their different political approach is not seriously considered. Njoroge in Weep Not, Child is another self-centered youth with mission-school education and messianic ambitions, whose hopes are destroyed when his brothers' involvement in Mau Mau forces him out of school, but again self-centeredness is not part of any ironic regarding of the hero by the novelist.

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Yet Weep Not, Child is a better novel, for Ngugi develops some complexity of structure. There are ironic parallels between the African devotion to ancestral lands and the white settler's love of the soil he has acquired, with the opposed characters oblivious to their common human suffering. Such ironical treatment is a great advance in Ngugi's technique, as are the convincing portraits of subsidiary characters who betray the very values they struggle to achieve, or who suffer constant frustration.

wa Thiong’o, Ngugi 1938–

A Grain of Wheat is a novel of mature outlook and much subtler technique. Ostensibly about the Uhuru celebrations of Kenya's independence in , it keeps flashing back to individual sufferings in Mau Mau days.

wa Thiong’o, Ngugi 1938–

There is no single, central hero this time, but four major characters, each guilty of betraying himself and others when sorely tried in the Rebellion. Mugo, regarded by his people as a Mau Mau hero, has messianic visions before the Rebellion, but his jealousy of the real leader led him to betray him to the British. At last Ngugi is able to treat a messianic figure with detachment, but also with humane sympathy: the years of Mugo's lonely, conscience-ridden life are movingly conveyed.

Other characters who also committed acts of betrayal painfully learn, first, the depths of utter disillusion, and then, the harrowing experience of coming to terms with their own limitations. Mugo's public confession brings him peace of mind, and helps them to face the future with some hope. A great strength of this finely orchestrated novel is Ngugi's skillful use of disrupted time sequence to indicate the interrelatedness of the characters' behavior in the Rebellion and the state of their lives and of the nation at Independence.

Ngugi's maturity appears also in his sober attitude both to the struggle for, and attainment of, Independence; there are signs of the new African politicians already betraying the ordinary people who suffered under colonialism. Though a disturbing novel, it proclaims hope for the regenerative capabilities of ordinary human nature.

In his critical essays in Homecoming , Ngugi argues the vital social function of literature in Africa, and the Third World generally. In Petals of Blood he impressively puts this belief into practice. A convincing attack, often Marxist in language, upon neocolonialism in Independent Africa is achieved fictionally by indicating powerfully and effectively how the lives of dispossessed little people are all but broken by an imported capitalist system.

The four major characters, each a misfit in Independent Kenyan society, have come to the distant village of Ilmorog to seek personal peace and modest new beginnings. Long associated with heroic Kikuyu legends, Ilmorog becomes a living presence in the novel. In the grip of prolonged drought, and ignored by the M. Subsequently religious, political, and economic exploiters swarm upon Ilmorog to "develop" it, and using such devices as foreclosed loans eventually dispossess the local inhabitants and establish New Ilmorog.

The ample detail with which Ngugi conveys the ruthless stripping of already deprived ordinary people gains power from a sophisticated narrative technique that enables Kenya's history since to be felt through the consciousness of its social victims. Petals of Blood is an angry novel but it does affirm the potentialities of native communality for a just, humane African polity.

With greater fervor of feeling and rhetoric, Ngugi renews in Devil on the Cross his attack upon neocolonial exploiters of ordinary Kenyan people. While the device allows Ngugi to employ a variety of highly charged rhetorical modes, it is questionable whether he deploys them as convincingly as he might have. Would such a narrator use not only songs, incantations, the very idiom of oral tradition, but also echoes and parodies of Bible stories and biblical English, together with Marxist analysis and denunciation of capitalism?

Ngugi doesn't seem to have tried very hard to disguise his authorial voice, or perhaps it is the effect of translating from his own original Kikuyu. While in Devil on the Cross he combines the biblical linguistic and moral flavor of his first two novels with the acerbic political tones of Petals of Blood, the cost is much wordy reiteration.

Nevertheless, the catastrophic effects of the Western economic stranglehold on many African nations is starkly revealed in the misery of the destitute and starving and the monstrosity of the new Kenyan affluent class. Ravenscroft, Arthur " Ngugi Wa Thiong'o. Ravenscroft, Arthur "Ngugi Wa Thiong'o. Ngugi wa Thiong'o born was Kenya's most famous writer. Best-known as a novelist, he also wrote plays, literary criticism, and essays on cultural and political topics.

The Innerview(Ep.231) Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, the master of modern African Literature

Educated initially at a mission school and then at a Gikuyu independent school during the Mau Mau insurgency, he went on to attend Alliance High School in and Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda, in After earning a B. He returned to Kenya in and taught in the English department at Nairobi University College until January , when he resigned in protest during a students' strike.

He lectured in African literature at Northwestern University in Illinois from through , then resumed teaching at Nairobi University College, where he soon was appointed acting head of the English Department.