35 pages 1 hour read

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Decolonising the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1986

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Key Figures

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is a Kenyan writer and academic. Born in 1938 in Kamiriithu in the Kiambu district of Kenya, Ngũgĩ is of Kikuyu descent, the largest ethnic group in Kenya. His family—particularly his brother—participated in the Mau Mau uprising. an anti-colonial resistance movement against British imperialism. During this period, his mother was tortured by the British. While attending Makerere University in Uganda, Ngũgĩ attended the African Writers Conference where he gave the renowned author Chinua Achebe a manuscript of his novels The River Between and Weep Not, Child. It was from this encounter that Ngũgĩ’s career as a writer began. Ngũgĩ later graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from Makerere University in 1963.

In the 1970s and 1980s, he became an active member of the Kamiriithu Community Center where he helped produced plays with local community members. On December 31, 1977, he was arrested by the Kenyan government due to officials who viewed his work as an artist and educator as a threat and potential catalyst for further popular uprisings. While imprisoned, Ngũgĩ wrote Devil on the Cross, the first modern novel written in Gikuyu, on toilet paper. After his release from prison in 1978, Nairobi University would not give him his job back.