This collection of essays reflects on the life and work of Ngugi wa Thiong'o, who celebrated his 80th birthday in 2018. Drawing from a wide range of contributors, including writers, critics, publishers and activists, the volume traces the emergence of Ngugi as a novelist in the early 1960s, his contribution to the African culture of letters at its moment of inception, and his global artistic lifein the twenty-first century. Here we have both personal and critical reflections on the different phases of the writer's life: there are poems from friends and admirers, commentaries from his co-workers in public theatre in Kenya in the 1970s and 1980s, and from his political associates in the fight for democracy, and contributions on his role as an intellectual of decolonization, as well as hisexperiences in the global art world. Included also are essays on Ngugi's role outside the academy, in the world of education, community theatre, and activism. In addition to tributes from other authors who were influenced by Ngugi, the collection contains hitherto unknown materials that are appearing in English for the first time. Both a celebration of the writer, and a rethinking of his legacy,this book brings together three generations of Ngugi readers. We have memories and recollections from the people he worked with closely in the 1960s, the students that he taught at the University of Nairobi in the 1970s, his political associates during his exile in the 1980s, and the people who worked with him as he embarked on a new life and career in the United States in the 1990s. First-hand accounts reveal how Ngugi's life and work have intersected, and the multiple forces that have converged to make him one of the greatest writers to come out of Africa in the twentieth century.
Simon Gikandi is 1st Vice-President of the Modern Languages Association (MLA) and Robert Schirmer Professor of English, Princeton University.
Ndirangu Wachanga is Associate Professor of Media Studies and Information Science at the University of Wisconsin. He is also the authorized documentary biographer of Professors Ali A. Mazrui, Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Micere Mugo.