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May 11, 2005
DH 05 PH082
Contact: Pamela Hammond
(310) 243-2001

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

Carson, 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, including Temple, 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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University Communications
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(310) 243-2001


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Last updated Wednesday, April 20, 4:35 p.m.,
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