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Ngugi Wa Thiong’o's Personal And Political Beliefs Through A Grain Of Wheat

1893 words - 8 pages

Ngugi wa Thiong’o's Personal and Political Beliefs Through A Grain of Wheat

Ngugi wa Thiong’o is a Kenyan born writer of Gikuyu descent, born in 1938 in Limuru. He attended Alliance High School in Kenya, Makere University in Uganda, and Leeds University in England. In 1992 Ngugi was honored with the Paul Robeson Award for Artistic Excellence, Political Conscience, and Integrity. He received the Gwendolyn Brooks Center Contributors’ Award for Significant Contribution to the Black Literary Arts in 1994. Currently he is The Erich Remarque Professor of Comparative Literature and Performance Studies at New York University. However, before achieving this notability, Ngugi experienced life in a colonized country. This ultimately led Ngugi to become an active supporter of Kenyan independence and Jomo Kenyatta through his writings. Ngugi’s personal and political beliefs are reflected in his novel A Grain of Wheat, which he wrote as an optimistic patriot.

Ngugi has written numerous novels and plays on the politics, the corruption, capitalism, religious hypocrisy and the cultural effects of colonization. Some of his works include Weep Not, Child (1964), Decolonising the Mind (1986), and Detained: A Writer's Prison Diary (1981). To further support his political belief, Ngugi stopped writing his books in English. He called his book Decolonising the Mind his "farewell to English" (Margulis http://www.emory.edu/ENGLISH/Bahri/Ngugi.html) because it would become his last book written in English. In 1978 Ngugi was imprisoned for one year, without trial, by the Kenyan government after co-writing the play I Will Marry When I Want. It was during this imprisonment that he wrote the book Detained to describe his ordeal. However, Ngugi’s most impressive novel, is A Grain of Wheat (1967), which "focuses on the many social, moral, and racial issues of the struggle for independence and its aftermath" (Encyclopedia Britannica online <http://www.eb.com:180/bol/topic?eu=57045&sctn=1>.

The majority of colonial and post-colonial African literature has been written in European languages -- a direct result of colonialism. “For this reason, the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o argues that to rid African literature of the legacy of colonialism, African writers must begin writing in the native languages” (Behrent http://landow.stg.brown.edu/post/poldiscourse/behrent.html). Ngugi felt that this literature could not relate to the majority of Africans who spoke or read a variety of native African languages. Ngugi began writing his novels in his native Gikuyu language so that he could "reach his African audience and to combat the imperialist 'spiritual subjugation' of the African peoples by the means of language” (Behrent http://landow.stg.brown.edu/post/poldiscourse/behrent.html). To Ngugi, the English language was imposed onto Africans as a way for the colonists to erase the pre-colonial history. In most cases, Africans were prohibited from using their...

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