“Ngugi wa Thiong’o has been jailed, banned and attacked in Kenya. Now in exile in America, the novelist tells John Freeman his epic story of struggle and survival.”
From The Independent:
Forces within Kenya have tried to silence Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s voice twice. In 1977, the future president Daniel arap Moi threw him into a maximum-security prison without trial for co-authoring a play critical of the government. Ngugi was released one year later, only to discover that his teaching job had disappeared. He eventually left the country because of fear for his own safety in 1982.
For a while, it looked like he would never return. “Moi used to say, ‘I can forgive anybody but Ngugi’,” says the 68-year-old novelist today at his home in Irvine, where he is a professor of English at the University of California. At just over five feet tall, with a ready giggle, he is hardly the portrait of a steely revolutionary. When Moi agreed to abide by term limits, and his hand-picked successor lost in the presidential elections, Wa Thiong’o realised that he had a chance to come home. It was good timing. Wa Thiong’o had just completed a six-volume satirical novel called Murogi wa Kagogo, a ribald satire of a fictional African dictator. It was also the longest novel ever written in his native Gikuyu language.