ICA launches 2017 Great Texts/Big Questions lecture series with Professor Ngugi wa Thiong'o

24 Feb 2017 - 09:15

The Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) is honoured to launch its annual Great Texts/Big Questions lecture series with a lecture by the internationally renowned writer and postcolonial theorist Professor Ngugi wa Thiong'o on Friday 3 March at 6pm. The lecture, presented in association with the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS), will take place at the Baxter Concert Hall and will be moderated by Professor Xolela Mangcu.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine, and one of the most significant, prolific and influential thinkers of our time.

He burst onto the literary scene with the performance of his first major play, The Black Hermit, at the National Theatre in Kampala in 1962. In a highly productive literary period, Ngugi wrote additionally eight short stories, two one act plays, two novels, and a regular column for the Sunday Nation under the title, “As I See It”. The novel Weep Not Child was published to critical acclaim in 1964 followed by a second novel, The River Between (1965). His third, A Grain of Wheat (1967), was a turning point in the formal and ideological direction of his works.

During his tenure at the University of Nairobi, beginning in 1967, Ngugi was at the centre of the politics of English departments in Africa, championing the change of name from English to Literature to reflect world literature with African and third world literatures at the centre. He co-authored the polemical declaration, “On the Abolition of the English Department”, setting in motion a continental and global debate, and practices that later became the heart of postcolonial theories. His first volume of literary essays, Homecoming, appeared in print in 1969. These were to be followed, in later years, by other volumes including Writers in Politics (1981 and 1997); Decolonising the Mind (1986); Moving the Center (1994); and Penpoints Gunpoints and Dreams (1998).

Sharply critical of the inequalities and injustices of Kenyan society, Ngugi was arrested and imprisoned without charge at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison at the end of 1977. His memoir, Detained: A Writer’s Prison Diary (1982), is an account of those experiences.

After Amnesty International named Ngugi a Prisoner of Conscience, an international campaign secured his release in December 1978. However, the Moi Dictatorship barred him from jobs at colleges and universities in Kenya.

In exile, Ngugi worked with the London based Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in Kenya (1982-1998). In 1992 he became Professor of Comparative Literature and Performance Studies at New York University, and from there moved to his present position at the University of California.

Ngugi has continued to write prolifically. He is the recipient of numerous honours, including the 2001 Nonino International Prize for Literature, as well as ten Honorary Doctorates.

The lecture will be held at the Baxter Concert Hall, Main Rd, Rondebosch, Cape Town on Friday 3 March at 6pm.

Booking is vital, please rsvp via email: All are welcome.

For more information, please contact the ICA offices at: +27 21 650 7156 | or Sascha Polkey at Rabbit in a Hat Communications: | 021 300 0052.


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