Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Ngugi Wa Thiong'o


  • Postcolonial art production

  • Limuru (Kenya)

Ngugi wa Thiong'o was born in 1938 in Kenya to a large farming family. He studied at Makerere University College in Kampala (Uganda), where he began his writing career, and at the University of Leeds (Great Britain). With his extensive novel oeuvre and numerous literary and political essays, he is one of Africa's most important writers and has been a multiple favourite for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Ngugi wa Thiong'o published his early novels and short stories in English and has been writing in his native language Kikuyu since 1978.

In 1967 he was awarded the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature, in 1973 the Lotus Prize at the Afro-Asian Writers' Conference in Alma-Ata. In 1976 James Thiong'o Ngugi (his birth name) gave up his Christian first name and henceforth called himself Ngugi wa Thiong'o. In 1977 he was arrested and detained; in 1982 he had to leave Kenya. In exile Ngugi wa Thiong'o continued to fight for human rights in Kenya and specifically for the release of political prisoners. From 1988 to 1992 he was visiting professor for English and Comparative Literature at Yale, then until 2002 professor at New York University and since 2002 distinguished professor at the University of California, Irvine.

In May 2014 Ngugi wa Thiong'o was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bayreuth. He was honoured – as it says in the honorary doctorate certificate – for his "outstanding services to the profiling of African literatures, in particular the literatures in African languages".

Contributions by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o