Kenyan diaspora to honor Ngugi wa Thiong’o for lifetime contribution

The public event will be open to women, men, and youth who are passionate about honoring Ngugi and his works. Speakers will include his contemporaries in the literature and scholarly fields as well as younger generations who have been inspired by the values he espouses
Prof. Ngugi wa Thiong'o is an academic who has graced the corridors of several colleges, including the University of Nairobi, the University of California, Irvine, Yale, Northwestern, and New York University. He has received over a dozen honorary degrees from institutions across the globe and continues to engage, write, and teach as opportunity allows. PHOTO/COURTESY

Kenyans and Africans in the diaspora have rolled out an elaborate event in honor of one of Africa’s literary giants, renowned poet and author Ngugi wa Thiong’o, at a ceremony to be held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. 

The one-day showpiece that will bring together at least 300 people from diverse backgrounds to celebrate and honor Prof. Ngugi will be livestreamed for international audiences across the globe on 22 June 2024.

Kenya Diaspora Alliance – USA President Bernard Marasa, the convenor of the organizing committee, says the event will recognize and pay tribute to someone whose literary works have inspired millions.

“As a literary icon, Mwalimu Ngugi’s writings have provoked critical questions about the ‘independence’ we won and the bitter fruit it became in the hands of African leaders in a neo-colonialism era,” explains Marasa, referring to the event’s concept note.

“Prof. Ngugi has forced us to see, or at least debate, a national and indeed a continental failure to decolonize minds,” adds author and medical device manufacturing executive Washington Osiro. 

“Words from the barrel of Ngugi’s often-acerbic pen have inspired millions to continue wrestling post-independence ills that crush young dreams.”

Explaining the importance of honoring Mwalimu Ngugi, Mkawasi Mcharo-Hall, a Baltimore-based scholar, writer, and storyteller, expounds that Mwalimu’s “character lives in culturally-identifiable spaces”.

“Yet he easily brings it home with global audiences that read and celebrate him, proof that one does not need to abandon their culture to be accepted by others; true to the Swahili adage that mwacha mila ni mtumwa.

The public event will be open to women, men, and youth who are passionate about honoring Ngugi and his works. Speakers will include his contemporaries in the literature and scholarly fields as well as younger generations who have been inspired by the values he espouses.

“Deliberate outreach will be extended to his alma maters, universities where he has been a professor as well as Mwalimu’s publishers,” elaborates Marasa. 

“Mwalimu Ngugi is an academic who has graced the corridors of several colleges […] He has received over a dozen honorary degrees from institutions across the globe. He continues to engage, write, and teach as opportunity allows,” adds Wanjala Nasong’o, a scholar and professor at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

KDA-USA President, Marasa, says the organizers are open to partnering with different entities and individuals, who feel inspired by Ngugi’s works to make the event “as colorful as it can get”.

“Mwalimu has a rich legacy and has impacted very many people who are to be found in far and wide places, including high places in the corporate and non-profit sectors, so we are calling on anyone who wishes to partner with us to board the ship so that we honor this legend now.”

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