Ngugi: Reflections on his Life of Writing a collection of essays on Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s work, edited by Simon Gikandi and Ndirangu Wachanga, launched in Nairobi on June 13, 2019.
Ngugi Wa Thiong’o is one of the most important authors, playwrights and academics in world literature today. He is the writer of many novels, seminal works in academia, game-changing plays and host of other works earning him accolades around the world from Kenya to Cameroon to Korea to Germany and everywhere in between.
A collection of essays discussing the importance of the work of the East African called Ngugi: Reflections on his Life of Writing was launched at the United States International University (USIU) on June 13, 2013. The collection edited by Simon Gikandi and Ndirangu Wachanga reflects on Ngugi’s writing, activism, and theoretical positions. The essays have been written by eminent personalities like Willy Mutunga, the former Chief Justice of Kenya, academic Kimani Wa Njogu, publisher Henry Chakava, author Peter Kimani, journalist Margaretta Wa Gacheru, and a host of others.
The event at the USIU auditorium was filled to the brim with students of the university and fans of the famous man of letters. The day started with a hilarious skit by a troupe from the university before speeches starting with Prof Ruthie Rono who introduced USIU-Africa Vice Chancellor Tiyambe Zeleza. VC Zeleza is clearly a huge fan of Ngugi recalling meeting him first through his work as a young reader then actually meeting him as a star-struck adult. He welcomed all visitors to his workplace.
That welcome would lead to a panel that included Ngugi alongside the editors of the book Ndirangu Wachanga and Simon Gikandi alongside Willy Mutunga, Henry Chakava, Kimani Wa Njogu, and Dr Garnette Oluoch-Olunya. Henry Chakava spoke about his history with Ngugi when he too was a student and onto being his editor at Heinemann then at East African Educational Publishers. CJ Willy Mutunga focused on his essay on the world famous literary icon as did Kimani Wa Njogu. Garnett Oluoch-Olunya also spoke about the new book we were seeing and her experience of Ngugi.
Simon Gikandi and Ndirangu Wachanga, the editors of the book, explained the mechanics of how the book came about and why it was important. The lion’s share of the speaking was accorded to Ngugi who spoke on his favoured topics on the importance of languages and how we had given the coloniser access to our resources and all we got in return was the love of speaking in their languages in the proper accent. He also read poems written both in Kikuyu and English while on a sojourn to Venice, Italy.
The author was accompanied by his wife Njeeri Wa Ngugi. Also spotted in the audience were Ken Walibora, Austin Bukenya, Peter Kimani, Tee Ngugi, and Moses Kilolo.