Great Ngugi: Home Thoughts From Abroad

Introduction:

Ngugi wa Thiongo, a Kenyan writer born in 1938, is one of the most prominent African anti-colonial authors. He lived during the British colonial rule in Kenya, and was very young when he experienced the destruction of the village in which he was born, destroyed by the British colonizers – during the Mau Mau Uprising that started in 1952 and took six years to put down. The post independent Kenya, however, was not a safe place for him as well. He was put in jail and faced violence for his criticisms toward the national bourgeoisie that came to power after the independence in 1963 (Ngugi was tolerated by Jomo Kenyatta, a fellow Kikuyu, and allowed to head the Department of Literature at Nairobi University, but Moi, a Kalenjin by tribe, fired and jailed Ngugi). Ngũgĩ stopped writing his fiction in English in a critical decision in the 1970s, arguing that the English language is a colonial one to African authors (a cheeky Nairobi school-boy called Dida Halake met Ngugi at the National Theatre and asked him “but being a non-Kikuyu I understand you in English or Swahili. Why are you writing in Kikuyu?” The fiery Professor Ngugi ignored the school-boy upstart, but was much kinder when they met again 40 years later in Notting Hill, London).

Ngugi engaged in writing in Gikuyu, spoken primarily by the Kikuyu people. In 1977, he was detained for a while in Kenya for one of his plays; I Will Marry When I Want (1977). While in Prison, Ngũgĩ wrote the first modern novel in Gikuyu, Devil on the Cross, on prison-issued toilet paper. Similar to Frantz Fanon, for Ngũgĩ the struggle against colonialism is linked to the struggle against capitalism; thus it is a struggle against bourgeoisie, both national and international. Mahdi Ganjavi is a Ph.D. student at the department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, OISE/University of Toronto.

The Interview (March 2017)

(MG): The idea of returning to the homeland is a shared concept among many anti-colonial authors of the twentieth century. Aime Cesaire’s famous poem, notebook of a return to the native land, meditates on such a moment of going back, such a moment of longing. We can see the same idea in Rabindranath Tagore’ the Home and the World, in which he criticizes the idea of an ideal home to which we can return. There seems no home is left for many anti-colonial authors to return to. In one of your volumes of memoir you meditate on the day you returned to your village after just a month, just to see that your village was literally destroyed by the British colonizers. If not to home, where can we go in our struggle against imperialism and colonialism?

Ngũgĩ: I tell this in my second memoir, In the House of the Interpreter. Home is the site of our sense of being and belonging. The sense of the physical and social space that made me, often the site of our earliest and most formative images and dreams of the future. But we tend to think of home as a stable material and social space, the place of return, or possible return, even if I go to all the corners of the world. My village, in Limuru, Kenya, and where I was born and grew up, seemed such a centre. But when I returned after three months away in a boarding school, I found the British colonial forces had razed the entire village to the ground. That was in April, 1955, and Kenya was then ruled under State of Emergency laws, meant to suppress the struggle for Independence lead by the Kenya Land and Freedom Army, otherwise known as Mau Mau. The impact of returning to a home that was no longer there was huge. It became an important theme in all my novels, particularly in A Grain of Wheat. But in reality home is never quite that stable. Home is also a place of change. Even within members of the same family, they may have different experiences and hence images of the place they call home. The question is really whether one is part of the changes, part of the agency of change, or a victim of forced change, like when oppressive forces force a people to abandon the place they called home. Home is both physical space and also space of the mind and the soul. My real home, whether in Kenya, or outside Kenya, is the place and space of struggle. I like to believe that I am an integral part of all the struggles in the world, for a people powered world. Imperialism and colonialism, or systems of slavery, were always enemies of the human. I still believe in a world where the condition of my development is the development of all. I am because you are: you are because I am. It is African proverb. It describes my home. But it is a home that has yet to be, for which we must all struggle, within our own countries and in the world.

MG: In your novel, Petals of Blood, meditating on the reasons for why the villages are losing their youth to the cities, Muturi says: “You forgot that in those days the land was not for buying. It was for use. It was also plenty, you need not have beaten one yard over and over again. The land was also covered with forests. The trees called rain. They also cast a shadow on the land. But the forest was eaten by the railway. You remember they used to come for wood as far as here – to feed the iron thing. Aah, they only knew how to eat, how to take away everything. But then, those were Foreigners – white people.” How do you differentiate between criticism of modernism and criticism of capitalist colonialism?

Ngũgĩ: I reject the logic of progress and modernity that decrees that one can only be rich by making another poor; that they can be clean, only by pouring their dirt on another; that they can be healthy only by making another diseased. Look at the world in which we now live, in America, Europe, Africa or Asia, I find it a world in which a handful of nations consume 90 per cent of the resources of all the other nations. The gap of wealth and power between a handful Have-Nations and the majority Have-Not Nations is widening and deepening. But within each nation, the gap of wealth and power, between a small group of Haves and the majority of Have-Nots, is widening and deepening. Within nations and between nations splendour is built on squalor. The boundless greed of a few now threatens the environment, the foundation of our lives. A modernity erected on the destruction of the very environment that makes life possible, is barbarism. We poison the air; we poison the earth; we even poison the waters! Then we develop technologies for making the poisoned water drinkable, and sell it in bottles! It’s sheer barbarism when nations pride themselves on the advances in technologies of mass death!

MG: Your novel, Petals of Blood, is an exemplary narration which gives life to the famous statement that “men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” Your protagonists join each other to travel from village to city hoping that they would save their village. However, this travel, which is also stressed by the title of the chapters, is not to heaven or redemption. As Muniro says: “We went on a journey to the city to save Ilmorog from the drought. We brought back spiritual drought from the city!” As the novel unfolds the village changes, but not as the protagonists desired. Once the capitalist relations are developed in the village, your protagonists change too. Every resistance gives rise to a new kind of suppression. Do you think that technologies of governance have become more powerful than the methods of resistance?

Ngũgĩ: In changing the conditions of our being, we also change ourselves, and we own the change. That’s why the whole notion that one people can export and force their systems of government to another is inherently alienating. One does not export liberation; people liberate themselves; then they own the outcome. Change comes from struggle. And struggle is inherent in thought and society and nature. Life itself arises out of struggle. The new has always had to struggle with the old, but its newness incorporates progressive elements of the old. Technology, from the natural technology of our hands to the most complex machinery, enhances the human capacity to eke – from nature and the environment – the means of enhancing life. There is a huge contradiction in the world today. Technology makes it possible to eliminate hunger, homelessness, diseases, and ignorance. And yet thousands still are without access to food, houses, health and knowledge. Technology, able to produce plenty, is used to create scarcity. The rate of profit depends on that scarcity. Technology is good. But technology should be in the service of the human; and not the human in the service technology. Do we really want a paradise of parasites? Paradise for parasites is hell for the host body. Globalization ensures the rule of parasites in paradise. That’s why the Globalization of the rule of money should be countered by the Globalism of working people to free their collective paradise from parasites. This is the theme I try to explore in my novel, Wizard of the Crow.

MG: What Fanon calls “the alienated psyche” is also echoed by Karega. There is a moment in the novel, where Karega criticizes those “African brothers and sisters” who change their names to “Western” names. In your own life, you did the opposite; you put aside your Christian name and went back to Ngugi. According to Fanon one way of enlightenment can be through violence. This is manifested in Abdullah who never forgets the moment when he humiliated the two European oppressors. The novel says: “He had rejected what his father stood for, rejected the promises of wealth and was born again as a fighter in the forest, a Kenyan.” What do you think of “the alienated psyche” and the processes by which an oppressed psyche can reach to enlightenment?

Ngũgĩ: Human liberation should mean the liberation of the wholeness of the environment, economy, power and psyche. These are connected. Colonial conquests of a people and their land are always followed by the imposition of a colonial state and culture. The colonizers arrogated to themselves the right to name the world of the conquered including their bodies. I have talked about the politics of memory in my book, Something Torn and New. Liberation can be summed up as the right to name one’s world. To put it simply, economic, political, social and cultural liberation would be incomplete without the liberation of the mind. Hence the title of my other book: Decolonizing the Mind.

MG: In face of the appeals of the villagers, one of the first thoughts of Nderi wa Riera, the MP, is to use culture as a basis of ethnic unity. This strategy has become more and more common in the contemporary world, especially in countries that have had anti-colonial and anti-imperialist violent resistance. How can literature assist us in our struggles against forms of oppression that intend to create unity by means of imposing an ahistorical (lacking historical substance) nationalist culture?

Ngũgĩ: Imperialism has always followed the Roman maxim: Divide and Conquer. Imperialism and the forces that ally with it, tell the working people that their problems come from the faith or religion or the cultural practices of the other. Does the poor Muslim or Christian or Hindu become less poor because they share the same faith with the wealthy in their community? So while the oppressed fight each other in terms of religion, ethnicity and other marks of cultural difference, the oppressors are very contented. The outlook that says that my God is more of a God than your God, is actually very ungodly. For Imperialism, God and Gold are the same thing.

MG: In Petals of Blood, you criticize the idea that there is a neutral body of knowledge. The character lawyer says: “Educators, men of letters, intellectuals: these are only voices – not neutral, disembodied voices – but belonging to bodies of persons, of groups, of interests. You, who will seek the truth about words emitted by a voice, look first for the body behind the voice. The voice merely rationalizes the needs, whims, caprices, of its owner, the master.” What body creates the voice, the knowledge that you deem beneficial for humanity?

Ngũgĩ: The united body of the working people. Let me try another maxim. Development should be measured not by the condition of those at the mountain top but the condition of those at the bottom of the mountain. Don’t measure progress and development by the number of millionaires in that society but by the conditions of the millions in that society. Education and knowledge can hinder or enlighten, and we want an education and knowledge that enlightens.

MG: You have experienced that anti-colonial projects can go wrong. What is the authentic anti-colonial movement in your view?

Ngũgĩ: That which fights for the liberation of the economy, politics, culture and psyche of a people, that liberates their capacity to make and name their world to empower the least among us.

MG: Do you think that African literature has lost its moment in the world literature in comparison with the seventies? If so, why?

Ngũgĩ: I don’t think so. The problem with African literature is that much of it is written in European languages. The new literary movement is toward writing in African languages. I was very happy when my fable, Ituĩka rĩa Mũrũgamo, (The Upright Revolution, or How humans came to walk upright), originally written in Gĩkũyũ, was translated into more than thirty African languages.

Ngugi was interviewed by Mahdi Ganjavi

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Seven Years Ago:
London Letter: Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s Dreams in a Time of War (A Childhood Memoir)

By Dida Halake, London

Ngugi’s is a life well documented, not least in his semi-fictional early novels, such as Weep Not Child and The River Between. This delightful book of 256 pages, whose writing Ngugi completed far away from his Kenyan home in California, USA, on the 12thof February 2009, is a vivid portrayal of the author’s childhood in the little Kikuyu town of Limuru, near Kenya’s capital Nairobi. Ngugi paints a picture of a tough and bleak childhood, common across Africa, where childhood memories are, in the main, of perpetual gnawing hunger:-

“I had not had lunch that day, and my tummy had forgotten the porridge I had gobbled that morning before the six mile run to school … I tried not to look too far ahead to a morsel that night”.

Ngugi’s childhood difficulties are also complicated by a polygamous family environment, initially idyllic but soon turning into a horror story as his father meets with financial misfortune and turns into an ogre who takes it out on his family. Ngugi’s mother leaves her husband to escape the violence and soon the young Ngugi is pointed in the direction that his mother had gone and banished from his father’s home – a truly heart-wrenching episode in the book.

Ngugi’s father had five wives and some 25 children, and even though Africans and Muslims (both of which I am!) may argue that “polygamy is part of our culture and our religion”, one is entitled to ask if the child Ngugi might not have been able to have a more substantial breakfast than the Uji (porridge), and might not have managed to get regular lunch and a bit more than “a morsal” for supper – if his father had had only one wife and maybe only two children? This brings to mind a BBC TV programme a decade or so ago showing a BBC reporter talking to a Kenyan mother (surrounding by a dozen children) about the virtues of smaller families. The BBC reporter says to the Kenyan woman: “If you had fewer children you could send your children to school wearing shoes”. The Kenyan woman replies: “Do my children learn through their feet?” Unquestionable logic, and I suppose Ngugi Wa Thiongo is the living proof – because he tells us in this autobiography that he too went to school without shoes and it did not affect his learning at school.

Talking of hunger, I recall a British TV advert of the 1990s where famous personalities come on TV and clicked their finger three times, “One, two, three – another child dead of hunger”. I took my six-year old daughter, whom I brought to the UK 9 months ago from a village in The Gambia, to this Ngugi-night in a Notting Hill theatre.  Even 70-years after Ngugi’s childhood, my daughter and the majority of African kids can identify easily with the gnawing pangs of hunger – and my daughter certainly remembers her long run to school (luckily with shoes sent by dad from UK) without being accompanied by a parent. The first thing I had to teach her was to eat properly – and substantially (she seemed to think that “a morsel” was enough!).

Ngugi was born in 1938, and so would be 72 now and still, sadly, living away from his beloved Limuru and Kenya. In the early 1980s Ngugi came to give us a talk at the University of Stirling in Scotland, and a couple of months later President Moi’s High Commissioner to the UK, a certain Kiplagat, came to give us a talk at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre of African Studies. The High Commissioner started a rather silly sermon about how it was our “duty to go back home and develop Africa”. Everyone listened politely but I would have none of it. I stood up and asked, politely but firmly: “Why has the government of Kenya kept the University of Nairobi closed for months and why is Professor Ngugi Wa Thiongo living in exile?” I only got a part answer when the High Commissioner said“The University of Nairobi will re-open soon”. The High Commissioner said nothing about Ngugi and it was only much later that I learnt of the attempt on Ngugi’s life while he was in Zimbabwe – an attempt gallantly thwarted by Comrade Mugabe’s Security Services. Ngugi did return to Kenya once Kibaki became President, but we all know the tragic result of that … and he had to go back into exile again.

In this autobiography, Ngugi says that he learnt English from the Old Testament and writers such as Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson. For my generation growing up in Kenyatta’s Kenya, we got our inspiration for the written word, and a radical political outlook,  from Ngugi himself (His essays De-Colonising the Mind and Homecoming were very popular when I was a school boy) . My first love as a teenage boy was Muthoni, the feisty tragic Kikuyu heroine of Ngugi’s novel The River Between.

This autobiography, and the “time” and “wars” described are also the central themes in Ngugi’s early books (Weep Not ChildThe River BeweenA Grain of Wheat) which I read as a school boy in Nairobi. The “time” is Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s primary school childhood in early 1950s Kenya. It was also a time of two “wars” that impacted on the impressionable conscience of the growing Ngugi.

The one “war” is the Second World War; a war against fascism that became an awakening for the colonial subjects across Africa who fought for the Anglo-French Empire’s Freedom against Hitler – only to remain enslaved to Anglo-French imperialism;

The other “war” is the terror unleashed on Kenya when the ungrateful Winston Churchill declared a “State of Emergency” to try and suffocate the emerging dreams of African freedom and nationhood in Kenya.

The “dreams” are on two parallel levels, flowing side by side.

Firstly, it is the African peoples dream for freedom and nationhood:

“In 1922 Marcus Garvey sent a telegraph to Llyod George and prophesied that in thirty years Kenyans would wage armed struggle against the British … in the facts and rumours of the trial and imprisonment of Jomo Kenyatta and the heroic exploits of Dedan Kimathi, the real and the surreal were one … it is facts as much as myths that keeps dreams alive in times of war” p. 194/5

Secondly, it is the personal dream of the poor young boy, Ngugi Wa Thiongo,  dreaming of survival and education in circumstances where he is immersed in personal poverty and conflicting personal loyalties while one brother fights for the Mau Mau and the other fights for the Colonial Government. At the same time the teenage Ngugi, now solely reliant on his poor mum’s gardening efforts, was trying to keep body and soul together and get an education for which he yearns. And his efforts bear wonderful fruit:

“I am the only one from the entire Limuru area who had been admitted to Alliance High School that year … For the first time in my life I am going to board a passenger train … we walk towards the carriages that are not marked Whites Only or Asians Only … Third Class is not even dignified by the words Africans Only. I see a billboard with the words WELCOME TO ALLIANCE HIGH SCHOOL. I hear my mother’s voice: Is it the best you can do? I say to her with all my heart Yes, Mother, because I also know what she really is asking for is my renewal of our pact to have dreams even in a time of war” (p.256)

I managed to keep my date in Notting Hill, London, UK, with my Kenyan childhood hero Ngugi Wa Thingo and my West African Fulani daughter, taught in The Gambia to love her grandmother’s stories, agreed to give up her much-loved musical Annie, about an orphan girl, to listen to enchanting stories about an African childhood by Ngugi – during which Ngugi mentioned that he tried to forget his pangs of hunger as a child in Kenya by reading about another orphan named Oliver Twist!

Extraordinary coincidence it may seem, but I used to read Ngugi’s The River Between as a boy in the Starehe “orphanage” that I grew up in for the same reason that Ngugi used to read Dicken’s Oliver Twist in his Kikuyu Village – to cover-up pangs of hunger and forget loneliness. But the coincidences do not end there. Ngugi tells us that his father was infact half Masai – the child of a lost Masai orphan who ended up in a Kikuyu village and became a Kikuyu. Ngugi’s father was also a traditionally wealthy man, with lots of goats and cattle – just as my father was before I was born. And like my father, Ngugi’s father lost it all when all the animals suddenly died (though in my father’s case his wife and his two children also died – after which he married my mother).

As a child, Ngugi tells us, he mythologized the Mau Mau “General China”, Jomo Kenyatta, and Dedan Kimathi the Mau Mau “Field Marshall”. Fifteen years or so after, General China (Warihu Itote) used to come to my school’s Friday Baraza (parliament) and mesmerize us with his exploits during the Mau Mau war – straining his neck to show where the British bullet entered and exited his throat! Ngugi also mentions the British Army raid in his hometown when he has a lucky escape – especially bearing in mind that the British almost certainly      knew that one of his brothers is fighting for the Mau Mau.

Ngugi turned into “an enemy of the state” when he finished writing about Colonial Kenya and the Mau Mau and turned his sharp eye onto the grosteque inequalities of Independent Kenya. Then, Kenyatta himself, the man who Ngugi idolised and spent so many days in his Limuru school days trying to meet at Limuru Train Station, only for the British to send Kenyatta off to jail in the desert and deprive Ngugi of the opportunity, became President of black run Kenya – and promptly set on the path of wholesale plunder of the nation’s treasury and physical elimination of political opponents such as Tom Mboya and JM Kariuki – while pausing just long enough to grab writers such as Ngugi and throw them in jail. For the likes of Kenyatta, who had grabbed the national cake for themselves and their henchmen, the issues of freedom and fair distribution of the national cake that the likes of Ngugi championed were dangerous and to be stamped out mercilessly. Of course Ngugi was not to be denied and he went on to author Kenyan classics such as Petal of Blood andDevil on the Cross that lay bare the cynicism and greed of Kenya’s new bourgeoisie.

The relevance of Ngugi to modern Kenya lies not just in his undoubted literary greatness as Kenya’s “National Bard”, but also in his political commitment to the poor and his determination to expose the greed of Kenya’s elite: “They are so greedy”, said the British High Commissioner, “that they over-eat and end up vomiting on the donor’s shoes”. But of course the “donors” keep giving to these greedy elite so that the elite do not turn around and sell British business interests to the Chinese instead! Of course, the brutality of the British during the Mau Mau that affected Ngugi’s childhood so much was purely based on business interests, as was the support for white Rhodesia and Boer South Africa. This brings me to the skulduggery at my alma mater involving an Englishman by the name of Patrick Shaw.

In this autobiography Ngugi writes of a “Fat Englishman”. At my school in Nairobi we had a horrible and rude “fat Englishman” by the name of Patrick Shaw who at nights worked in Kenyatta’s Special Branch, driving after and gunning down “armed robbers”. Patrick Shaw was a very very fat man – 22 stones or so – and his Audi Saloon Car almost touched the ground when he sat in it. Shaw was a mean driver and “criminals” hardly ever got away from him – partly because his heavy weight meant that his car never turned over however fast he took a corner. Patrick Shaw’s boss at my school was Geoffrey William Griffin, the founder, who also doubled as Kenyatta’s Commander of the National Youth Service (holding the same rank as an Army Commander). Ironically, Geoffrey William Griffin, aged just 20 when the Mau Mau war began, earned himself a reputation for being a ruthless hunter of the Mau Mau, earning the nick-name “The Knife” in Kikuyu. When he left the British Army to go into youth work (to rescue orphans of the Mau Mau war), Geoffrey William Griffin took as his assistant two Mau Mau detainees, one of whom named Joseph Kameru Gikubu still runs the Starehe Centre today (Starehe was founded in 1959 and I was admitted in 1965). I think Geoffrey William Griffin picked the “Fat Englishman” Patrick Shaw from amongst the English fighters against the Mau Mau to work for him when he decided to set up Starehe Boys Centre.

In 1975 we firmly believed that Patrick Shaw and General China both personally killed the former Mau Mau and popular Kikuyu politician JM Kariuki. I moved in Baraza that we should name the new dormitory building JM House, but I was sternly over-ruled by Geoffrey William Griffin and the building’s name simply remained “New House”. I had a running battle with Patrick Shaw and finally he vowed to bar me from getting a Kenyan passport to go to the UK. But one of Kenyatta’s Provincial Commissioners by the name of Luka Galgallo easily got me the passport by writing a note directly to the director of passports. Anyway, the “Fat Englishman” Patrick Shaw finally got his just desserts when Moi took over the presidency on Kenyatta’s death.

Moi turned into a brutal dictator bent on eliminating anyone who may pose a challenge to him. Moi’s Vice-President, Mwai Kibaki, was one such potential challenger. Moi asked Shaw to do for him (Moi) what he had done for Kenyatta vis-a-vis  JM Kariuki. Now, Kibaki is a man Shaw had known for a very long time – and Kibaki had taken over as patron of Starehe from the assassinated Tom Mboya in 1969 and still remains the patron of the school even today. This is what I was told, while I was still in the Muthaiga Golf Club with Kibaki in June 1999, having just handed him a contribution of £1,000 sterling as he stood holding the basket collecting for Starehe:-

  • Shaw was instructed to eliminate Moi’s Vice-President Kibaki.
  • Shaw went to Vice-President Kibaki and told him that Moi had ordered him (Shaw) to kill Kibaki.
  • Vice-President Kibaki went to President Moi and asked him: “I am your Vice-President. How can you give orders for my elimination?”
  • Moi completely denied giving such an order – and apparently cried to show how genuine he was (Moi also cried in Parliament in 1975 while announcing an Inquiry into JM’s assassination – Moi was then Vice-President to Kenyatta).
  •  Kibaki left Moi’s office assured of his safety.
  • Moi picked up the phone and instructed the head of secret services to eliminate Shaw.
  • Shaw was eliminated.

I am sure this story will delight Ngugi, for I think Shaw was the “Fat Englishman” terrorising the population in Ngugi’s Limuru when Ngugi was a boy.

The thing about both Geoffrey William Griffin (to whom I personally owe so much) and Patrick Shaw is that they were both very efficient. Geoffrey William Griffin ran his school on military lines and made it the top in the country, and at the same time he ran Kenya’s National Youth Service so well that it became an example for the whole continent. Shaw was very good at ensuring the large school infrastructure was well maintained.  When I visited the school in 1999 after Shaw’s death, I could see the neglect all around, a neglect that would not have been allowed in Shaw’s time (Geoffrey William Griffin was by 1999 rather frail and lonely. He believed he had only a few years to live. When I told him I would visit him again at Starehe’s 50th Anniversary he was emphatic: “I won’t be here son”, he said). While an efficient administrator at Starehe by day, by night Shaw, who could only sleep a few hours a night because of his medical condition, became a real-life James Bond: Licensed to Kill (robbers and anyone else whom Kenyatta may order him to eliminate). Maybe the absence of Shaw’s ruthless efficiency is what has led to Nairobi being re-christened Nairoberry!

Long diversion! So let us get back to the Great Ngugi, aged 72, wise, calm and at peace with himself – spending three hours in the evening signing his book for his fans here in Notting Hill. It is wonderful that Ngugi has written this autobiography – it fills in gaps to explain much of the rest of Ngugi’s writing – and it enables us readers to understand Ngugi-the Man much better.  I am sure he misses Limuru, whose “Mandazi” is the sweetest I know. Yet, the “African Condition” does mean that many of the Continent’s “great sons” are forced to live abroad – educating other people rather than their own compatriots.  But we must be grateful for small mercies – and I am personally grateful for an opportunity to meet Ngugi again and to introduce my daughter to him. I hope she will take the trouble in the future to find out who the man she is pictured with is! She must be told that the Great Man had the biggest smile of the evening when he shook her hand and put an arm around her.

Dida Jallow-Halake, Notting Hill, London, UK, 12thMarch 2010.