Ngugi Wa Thiong’o launched his newest title Kenda Muiyuru at the Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi on February 11, 2019.
Ngugi Wa Thiong’o is not a new name to anyone who follows African writing. The Kenyan born author and scholar wrote Weep Not Child the first novel written in English in Kenyan in 1964. Since then he has gone on to write many novels and other texts the most famous of which was Decolonising the Mind in 1986. Decolonising the Mind is a collection of essays about language and its constructive role in national culture, history, and identity. In it he would announce a plan to return to writing in his mother tongue.
A continuation of this promise was on show at the Kenya National Theatre as he launched his newest book Kenda Muiyuru (the Perfect nine). The book is an epic of the formation of the Kikuyu nation which was founded by Gikuyu and Mumbi who had 9 daughters that makes the perfect nine. He mentioned that the daughters were actually 10 but there seemed to be some sought of physical challenge that precluded her from not being part of the perfect 9.
The event would include speeches from East African Educational Publishers’ Chairman Henry Chakava, Managing Director Kiarie Kamau, and former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga. After this the man himself would make his official address starting with an anecdote about his long relationship with Dr Mutunga. Apparently when he had been released from Kamiti Maximum Prison in the early 1980s, he was then arrested on a trumped up charge of drinking after hours. It was Mutunga and his battery of highly powered lawyers who would come to the then University don’s rescue. The fact that place hadn’t renewed its license meant that he was in the clear.
He would then talk about his tour for the book we were launching and how he had been going around the country. During this period he would teach us a poem in the Luo language proving that he was not just a Kikuyu nationalist but was for all of us to speak in our mother tongues. He would also perform some of the book with Ndungi Githuku as collaborator.
With the presentations done and dusted, the book would be launched Kenyan style with an unveiling and loud music (sans the confetti) followed by photographs with the VIPs in attendance.