Foto Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o; Bildnachweis: Foto Daniel Anderson, zur freien Verwendung
Foto Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o; Bildnachweis: Foto Daniel Anderson, zur freien Verwendung

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

*January 5, 1938 in Kamiriithu, Limuru, Kenya.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is a Kenyan writer and cultural scholar. He is considered one of the most important writers in East Africa. Ngũgĩ has taught as a comparative literature scholar at Yale University, New York University, and the University of California, Irvine, among others. At NYU, Ngũgĩs was both Professor of Comparative Literature and Performance Studies and "Remarque Professor" of Language from 1992 to 2002, but has not directly researched or published on Remarque.

Ngũgĩ's family was imprisoned for the Mau Mau uprising, his stepbrother died, and his mother was tortured. When he attended the English-language missionary school Alliance High School in Kikuyu, he became a devout Christian. He then studied at Makerere University in Uganda and at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. There he published his first novel, Weep Not, Child, in 1964, which made him world famous. It was followed by The River Between (1965), A Grain of Wheat (1967), and Petals of Blood (1977). Devil on the Cross (1980) he wrote on toilet paper during his imprisonment. It became his first novel in Kikuyu. The following two novels, Matigari (1986) and Wizard of the Crow (2006), were also first written in Kikuyu.

His essay collections Decolonizing the Mind and Moving the Centre contain a selection of lectures and articles that fundamentally clarify his postcolonial critique and cultural studies theses.

Ngũgĩ has taught at the University of Nairobi in the Department of English, Yale University, Amherst College, New York University, and is also a professor of comparative literature at the University of California, Irvine.

On the persecution of the writer

The author sees himself as an anti-colonial writer. Against this background, he has been publishing in his native language, Kikuyu (also called Gikuyu), since 1978. All of his works have been translated into English and numerous other languages. What made him popular was not only his Enlightenment themes, but also his opposition to British colonial policy and the later post-colonial rule of Daniel arap Moi's government, as well as his reference to traditional African theater and storytelling.

The play I Marry You When I Want (Ngaahika Ndeenda) prompted the regime of President Jomo Kenyatta to torture him in 1977 and imprison him without trial at Kamithi Maximum Security Prison in Nairobi. His books and plays were banned by the Moi government. Only with difficulty did he find political asylum in England in the early 1980s. In 2004, he visited Kenya again for the first time after the change of government to the "Rainbow Coalition" under President Mwai Kibaki, but traveled back to the U.S. after a mysterious attack in his apartment on himself and his wife, who was raped.


  • 1967: Jomo Kenyatta Award - Kenyan State Prize for Literature
  • 1973: Lotus Prize of the Afro-Asian Writers' Conference in Alma-Ata
  • 2009: Nominated for the Man Booker International Prize for his complete works
  • 2014: Honorary doctorate from the University of Bayreuth
  • 2014: Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2017: Honorary doctorate from Yale University

Works in German translation (selection)

  • Abschied von der Nacht (Weep not, child). Translated from the English by Klaus Schultz. Published by Volk und Welt, Berlin 1969.
  • Freiheit mit gesenktem Kopf. Novel. Translated from the English by Klaus Schultz. Walter Verlag, Olten, Freiburg im Breisgau 1979.
  • Hidden Fates. Narratives. Translated from the English by Dagmar Heusler and Ruth Krenn. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1982.
  • The River in Between. Translated from the English by Anita Jörges. Weismann Verlag, Munich 1984.
  • Kaltgestellt. Prison Diary. Translated from the English by Susanne Koehler. Trickster Verlag, Munich 1991.
  • Moving the center: Essays on the liberation of African cultures. Translated from the English by Jörg Rademacher. Unrast Verlag, Münster 1995.
  • Dreams in Times of War. A childhood. Translated from the English by Thomas Brückner. A1 Verlag, Munich 2010.
  • Burnt blossoms. Peter Hammer Verlag, Wuppertal 2011.
  • Lord of the Crows. Frankfurt/Main: S. Fischer, 2013.
  • Birth of a Dream Weaver. Munich: A1 Verlag, 2016.
  • Decolonizing Thought - Essays on African Languages in Literature. Translated from the English by Thomas Brückner. Münster: Unrast Verlag, 2017 (new edition 2019).

Publisher 'snote: His literary work has made Kenyan cultural scholar and writer Ngũgĩs wa Thiong'o a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature for many years. In his collection of essays Decolonizing Thought, he analyzes the intellectual consequences of European colonialism, the suppression of the languages of Africa, and thus the destruction of cultures. When the end of colonial rule was fought for, European cultural dominance persisted. Europe's languages, its thinking, its view of history and the present continue to influence African self-understanding to this day. Through Ngũgĩs wa Thiong'o's essays, it becomes clear that African languages are an essential means of liberation from colonial structures of domination and thought. For language forms the cornerstone for the transmission of culture and history. Now available in German for the first time, this collection of essays is complemented by recent contributions from African authors and scholars who address the significance that Ngũgĩs wa Thiong'o's theses have acquired in their homelands: Boubacar Boris Diop (Senegal), Achille Mbembe (Cameroon), Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe), Sonwabiso Ngcowa (South Africa), and Mukoma wa Ngũgĩs, a son of Ngũgĩs wa Thiong'o.


German writer and publicist

Sea-Watch emerged at the end of 2014 from an initiative of volunteers who could no longer stand idly by and watch the dying in the Mediterranean Sea. On May 19, 2015, the association Sea-Watch e.V. was founded, which is responsible for the work as a non-profit legal entity (non-profit status: VR 34179 B).

Association Board:

  • Johannes Bayer (Chairman of the association)
  • Joshua Krüger (Deputy chairman of the association)
  • Klaus Stramm (Treasurer)
  • Holger Mag
  • Matthias Kuhnt

The board of Sea-Watch e.V. is exclusively voluntary.

The European Union is committed to democracy and human rights, but at the same time continues to seal itself off from people fleeing, whether through border security facilities worth billions or readmission agreements with third countries such as Turkey that are questionable and controversial under international law. Because of this closure, thousands of people drown every year trying to reach an EU safe haven, many of them within sight of our shores and beaches.

That is why the initiators and contributors of Sea-Watch have dedicated themselves to sea rescue. No human being should die fleeing and hoping for a dignified life at the external borders of the European Union.

The gap of an institutionalized, area-wide sea rescue with a clear mandate, such as Mare Nostrum, which rescued more than 130,000 people but was not taken over by the EU and therefore ended, Sea-Watch tries to fill as long as possible and within its possibilities. The contributors consider this their humanitarian duty. However, the fact that private organizations take over the sea rescue in the Mediterranean Sea instead of states cannot and should not become a permanent condition! Sea-Watch demands an international, institutionalized sea rescue with a clear mandate and, in the long term, legal and safe entry routes for those seeking protection in the sense of a #SafePassage.

Since the beginning of 2015, the constantly growing organization, which consists mainly of dedicated volunteers from all over Europe, has been working on the project organization and implementation of Sea-Watch. The association is financed exclusively by donations and tries to save as many people as possible from death by drowning. Sea-Watch has been involved in the rescue of well over 37,000 people to date.


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