Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Top 5 Greatest Moments

Article by Maureen Kasuku
Posted: January 26, 2022  

As we wrap up celebrated author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s birthday month (born January 5th 1938), here are 5 of Africa’s literature giant greatest moments:

Headlining the first African Writer’s Conference

In 1962, Makerere University hosted the first ever African Writers Conference. 24-year-old Ngũgĩ was one of the headliners and his play The Black Hermit premiered as part of the event at The National Theatre. This was the beginning of his illustrious writing career. 

Publication of Debut Novel Weep not Child in 1964

At age 26, his first novel Weep not Child was published in May 1964 and was the first major novel in English by an indigenous East African. The novel, which is a fierce critic of British colonialism went on to win several literature awards and has been translated to over 100 languages. 

Notes from Prison: Devil on the Cross

While detained at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, by the KANU regime for “seditious libel”, Ngũgĩ wrote the 1st modern novel in Gikuyu language Devil on the Cross (Caitaani mũtharaba-Inĩ), on toilet paper.

 Victorious Return to Kenya

After 22 years in exile, Ngũgĩ returned to Kenya in 2004  as part of a month-long tour of East Africa and caused a media frenzy in the country. He signed books and gave talks at various institutions.


Ngũgĩ has been awarded with and nominated for multiple literary awards. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace prize in literature twice and received the Premi Internacional Catalunya 2019 In Kikuyu. How badass is that?

If you only have time to read one of his works, we recommend you start with his very first novel Weep not Child.

*Image: NMG FILE

About the author

Maureen Kasuku

Maureen is our resident cat lady and Beyoncé stan. She writes about spas, brunch and ballet recitals but has never been to any. Moonlights as a social justice activist in her spare time. She knows things and is obnoxiously opinionated on the internet but not in real life


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