Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

For episode 57 we caught up with the Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, author of 8 novels, 3 collections of short stories, numerous plays and pieces of non-fiction and 5 memoirs.

An indefatigable defender and promoter of African literature and language, Ngũgĩ’s writing spans from the early 1960s onwards. He talked to us about his journey to becoming a writer, from having friends who proved he didn’t need to wait for permission, then being a central figure in the emergence of African writing’s recognition across the world, being imprisoned for writing a play in his native Kikuyu language, to then receiving a medical diagnosis that meant he had a very short amount of time to write his ‘final’ book. It’s quite a ride.

Technical note: Due to some kind of infrastructural fault at his home, Ngũgĩ spoke to us from a hotel room and we had to record via MS Teams, so the audio is not quite up to our usual standards. There’s also something odd with the audio at the very beginning, apologies!

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