Micere Mugo. Photo/Steenie Njoroge

Micere Mugo received her Human Rights Defenders Award 2022 at a ceremony at the Kenya National Theatre, Nairobi on Friday, January 6, 2022.

Human Rights Defenders Awards are given to men and women who have demonstrated courage and impact in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The awards are presented in three categories: the Munir Mazrui Lifetime achievement award, the Human Rights Defender of the year award, and the upcoming Human Rights Defender of the year award.

For 2022, the awards were given to Lisa Gem, Grace Kalekye Mwangangi, and Billy Hani for the upcoming Human Rights Defender of the year award, John-Allan Namu for Human Rights Defender of the year, Micere Githae Mugo for the Munir Mazrui Lifetime achievement award, and Angela Davis for the Global Solidarity Award. The event celebrating the defenders was hosted at the Embassy of Sweden in Kenya on December 2, 2022. Missing from the event were Micere Githae Mugo and Angela Davis.

On Friday, Micere Mugo received her award at the Kenya National Theatre with jury members as well as many activists and fans present. Playwright, author, activist, academic, and poet Micere Githae Mugo has written many publications including the plays The Long Illness of Ex-Chief Kiti (1976) and The Trial of Dedan Kimathi (co-authored with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o), (1976). She also wrote the poetry collections Daughter of My People, Sing! (1976) and My Mother’s Song and Other Poems (1994). Some of her literary criticism contributions were Visions of Africa: The Fiction of Chinua Achebe, Margaret Laurence, Elspeth Huxley, and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1978), African Orature and Human Rights (1991), and The imperative of Utu / Ubuntu in Africana scholarship (2021). Her autobiography was Writing & Speaking from the Heart of My Mind (2012). The former dean at the University of Nairobi fled the country in 1982 during the dictatorship of Daniel Arap Moi to Zimbabwe and onward to the United States.

 Dr Willy Mutunga, Professor Micere Mugo, Jury Panel Member Njeri Kabeberi & Jury Chairperson Rachael Mwikali. Photo/Steenie Njoroge
Dr Willy Mutunga, Professor Micere Mugo, Jury Panel Member Njeri Kabeberi & Jury Chairperson Rachael Mwikali. Photo/Steenie Njoroge

The ailing icon of Kenyan letters was cited for the award, handed to her by former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, for using her literary works to advocate for social justice and human rights in Kenya and Africa.

Speaking on her award she said, “Today you are reminding me that there are Kenyans whom I share a whole story and history with and that is all that matters. This lifetime award comes at a moment when we are advancing good governance, gender equality, and human rights in Kenya.”

The award came with a plaque, certificate, and US$1,000 prize money.

Images used in this post are courtesy of Steenie Njoroge.