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DH 05 PH082
Contact: Pamela Hammond
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Photo available upon request
CSU Board of Trustees To Confer Honorary Doctorate at
CSUDH 39th Annual Commencement to
Kenyan Professor, Writer and Activist
CA – The California State University Board of Trustees will
be conferring the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters to Ngugi wa
Thiong’o, born in Kenya under Great Britain’s colonial rule. In
recognition of his personal and professional achievements and meritorious
service to society, the degree will be presented by CSU Trustees Robert
G. Foster and Raymond W. Holdsworth at the California State University,
Dominguez Hills 39th annual Commencement ceremony.
Ngugi survived Kenya’s war for independence and the dangers of the Mau
Mau insurgency, only to be disappointed by the post-colonial government. Those
experiences are the subjects of his literary works, beginning in 1962 with
the play, “The Black Hermit.” He is also the author of novels,
essays and stories, and writes a newspaper column.
Ngugi has risked his freedom, his career, his literary rights and his life
for his critical writings about colonial rule, Christianity, and the post-colonial
corruption and abuses of Kenyan citizens’ civil rights. In Kenya, he
was imprisoned under the Public Security Act for his criticism of the post-colonial
government, banned from jobs at universities, and his novel Matigari was
banned from book stores for a decade.
He exiled himself from Kenya for more than two decades in order to avoid
arrest and imprisonment. While in exile in England and America, Ngugi continued
to write about his native land, insisting on writing in his native tongue,
Kikuyu, in order to help preserve the language.
Ngugi’s novels include: Weep Not, Child; The River Between; A
Grain of Wheat; Petals of Blood; Caitaani; Detained:
A Writer’s Prison Diary;
Matigari; and Murogi wa Kigogo. His essays are titled Homecoming and his most
controversial play was “Ngaahika Ndeenda.” Many of his works have
been translated into more than 30 languages and continue to be the subjects
of books, critical monographs and dissertations.
Currently, Ngugi is a Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative
Literature and Director of the International Center for Writing and Translation
at the University of California, Irvine. He has also been a lecturer in
English Literature at the University of Nairobi and chair of that university’s
Department of Literature; a Visiting Associate Professor at Northwestern
University; has had visiting appointments at a number of universities,
Amherst, Smith and Yale; and has lectured at Auckland University in New
Zealand, Oxford University, and Cambridge University.
He was awarded the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Cabinet by the
International Scientific Committee of the Pio Manzu International Research
Centre in Italy, a United Nations organization; delivered the fourth Memorial
Steve Biko Lecture in South Africa; and was inducted as a foreign honorary
member at the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
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