Mukoma Wa Ngũgĩ
(USA, 1971) grew up in Kenya but returned to the US to study political science, English and creative writing. He is a writer, political analyst and columnist for BBC Focus on Africa Magazine. Wa Ngũgĩ wrote several novels, including Nairobi Heat (2009), Black Star Nairobi (2013) and Mrs. Shaw (2015), as well as two volumes of poetry: Hurling Words at Consciousness (2006) en Logotherapy a decade later. He also wrote non-fiction titles, including Conversing with Africa: Politics of Change (2003) and The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity and Ownership (2018). He has written many political essays and columns for publications like the LA Times and World LIterature Today. Wa Ngũgĩ is a professor of English at Cornell University in New York and the son of the Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o.(WN 2020)
Archive available for: Mukoma Wa Ngũgĩ
This program at the Institute of Social Studies has become a much-loved classic at Winternachten Festival. Visitors, writers, students and teachers tell each other stories. This time around, the theme was "decolonisation", which has quickly become a key word in the world of museums, universities and society at large. But how are you dealing with this individually? How are you decolonising your thinking or your life, at your workplace or at home? What are you experiencing, and what challenges do you encounter?
Llsten to stories from all over the world and, if you like, share your own story! Maximum 5 minutes and in English only - no other protocol. Among the participants were writer, poet, essayist and literary scholar Mukoma Wa Ngũgĩ - who was born in the US and grew up on Kenya. Asmaa Azaizeh, Palestinian poet and essayist, Zuleika Sheikh and Rosalba Icaza, teachers at the Institute of Social Studies, also talked about their experiences with "decolonising the mind". The stories were interspersed by muscial performances by Lamin Kuyateh.
The 25th anniversary edition of Writers Unlimited festival payed special attention to liberation and, more specifically, to the decolonisation of (Western) thinking. How free is our mind, what does that freedom mean, and are we really free or are we trapped in the framework of our culture, society and history? This theme was partly based on Decolonizing the Mind, an essay by Mukoma Wa Ngũgĩ''s father, the Kenyan writer and social activist Ngugi wa Thiong'o. The essay is about colonised language and its still-noticeable influence. With this theme, the festival also established a link to its early editions, which focused on The Netherlands' relationship with Indonesia, Surinam, the Antilles and South Africa.
Writers tell us about their favourite book: the book that inspires or touches them, that set their artistic, moral or intellectual compass. In short, the book they would recommend to everyone. Interview: Jet Steinz.
How do writers relate to decolonizing language and literature, not only in their subject matter but also in the form of their poetry and stories?
During the Friday Night Unlimited program, several events will focus on the decolonization of the mind. How free is our mind, what does freedom mean, and are we truly free, or caught in the framework of our culture, society and history? This theme is partly based on the essay collection Decolonizing the Mind by the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o, in which he discusses colonized language and how its influence is still notable. Since he believes that language plays a constructive role in culture, history and identity, he argues for "linguistic decolonization".
This first program will be opened with a speech by writer Mukoma Wa Ngugi (USA, and son of Ngugi wa Thiong'o); then Simone Zeefuik discusses this subject with him and with poet Simone Atangana Bekone (Netherlands), poet and writer Antjie Krog (South Africa) and writer Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe).
Tip: Petina Gappah also appears at Opening Night - A Free Mind on Wednesday, 15 January, at Theater aan het Spui; Antjie Krog appears at Saturday Night Unlimited, 18 January, and during the Winternachten New Year's Concert on Sunday afternoon, 19 January, at the Zuiderstrand Theatre.
To what extent has African literature been able to wrest itself free of linguistic colonization? And what about other languages? Can the predominance of English still be stopped, or is it a lost cause? Liberian-Dutch writer and poet Vamba Sherif discusses the issue with American-Kenyan writer, poet, university lecturer in English and activist Mukoma Wa Ngũgĩ and with Ellah Wakatama, Editor-at-Large of Scottish publishing firm Cannongate Books. She is also a senior Research Fellow at Manchester University and Chair of the Caine Prize for African Writing.
Tip: Mukoma Wa Ngũgĩ also appears at the Storytelling Symposium "Decolonising the Mind: What Happened to You?" on Thursday, 16 January, at the International Institute of Social Studies.