Professor Ngugi Wa Thiongo honored during book launch at USIU-Africa

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Professor Ngugi Wa Thiongo reads an excerpt from one of his books during the launch of a book entitled ‘NGUGI:
Reflections on his life of writing’ at USIU-Africa: PHOTO:Ernest Mwanzi

By Taigu Muchiri

The School of Humanities and Social Science had the privilege to host Professor Ngugi Wa Thiong’o during a book launch in his honor on Thursday, June 13. The book entitled ‘NGUGI: Reflections on his life of writing’ is written by Prof. Simon Gikandi and Prof. Ndirangu Wachanga and reflects on his writings since the early 1960s. The book is a collection of essays that document the life and work of Ngugi wa Thiong'o and includes a variety of contributors such as writers, activists, publishers, critics and emphasizes on his contribution to African literature. Professor Gikandi is the Robert Schirmer Professor and Chair of English at Princeton University and Prof Wachanga teaches Media Studies and Information Science at the University of Wisconsin.

Speaking during the event, the Vice Chancellor mentioned that this was a great opportunity for Kenya and the world to recognize the author. He said that this was an indeed proud moment for USIU-Africa to host the author at a special occasion when the university is commemorating 50 years of academic excellence. “We cannot ignore the work of Professor Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and his contributions that he has made towards African literature by putting Africa on the map.”

Dr. Willy Mutunga, the former Chief Justice, acknowledged the author and his great work that has spanned over fifty years and continues to make a great impact on African literature. He said, “This book is indeed a reflection of a great author who continues to receive prestigious awards across the globe.”

In making his remarks, Professor Wachanga said that it was an honor to have worked with Professor Gikandi on this project to highlight the works of Professor Ngugi and that this project will forever remain close to his heart.

Professor Ngugi recognized and appreciated the two professors who chose to focus writing career and added that he was grateful to the USIU-Africa community for hosting the book launch. He emphasized that African language must be preserved otherwise we are at risk of losing our heritage. He encouraged students to write in their native language and translate the books to English and other languages as opposed to authoring books in English. He said that even after 50 years of writing, he continues to write his books in Gikuyu language and they have translated to many languages. At the end of his speech, the Professor received a standing ovation from the attendees who appreciated his work.

The renowned writer is a distinguished professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. He has authored over thirty books and is a recipient of over seven global awards in literature.

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