How my father Ngugi Wa Thiong O physically abused my mother – Mukoma

How my father Ngugi Wa Thiong O physically abused my mother – Mukoma

Wednesday, March 13, 2024 2:23 pm

 Mukoma Wa Ngugi and his father, Ngugi Wa Thiong O

Mukoma Wa Ngugi and his father, Ngugi Wa Thiong O

   By Nehru Odeh

Mukoma Wa Ngugi writer, poet and Associate Professor of Literature at Cornell University, has said his father the famous writer, playwright and scholar Professor Ngugi Wa Thiong o physically abused his mother Nyambura and silenced her to erase her from his story.

This shocking revelation which Mukoma posted on X, formerly known as Twitter on Tuesday 12 March about his aged father, has sent shock waves across the globe.

The 53-year-old shared a newspaper article about his mother and wrote: “My father @NgugiWaThiongo physically abused my late mother – he would beat her up.

“Some of my earliest memories are of me going to visit her at my grandmother’s where she would seek refuge. But with that said it is the silencing of who she was that gets me.  Ok- I have said it.”

Still, this is not the first time Mukoma has made such a sordid revelation about his 86-year-old father, who is currently suffering from kidney failure and living alone under the care of medical personnel at his house in California, US. Ngugi, who recently had surgery, undergoes kidney dialysis three times a week.

In 2022, Mukoma wrote on Twitter about how his father systematically erased his mother from his story

“It hurts to see my late mother, Nyambura (my daughter is named after her) being systemically erased from the @NgugiWaThiongo_ story. We literally (of course) and figuratively would not be here if it was not for her keeping us glued together through the political persecutions.”

Ngugi, who is renowned as Kenya’s most famous writer, married Nyambura in 1961. The two went on to have six children: Thiong’o, Kimunya, Nduchu, Mukoma, Wanjiku and Njoki.

Apart from Kimunya, an economics graduate from the University of Nairobi, the rest of their children attended US universities.

Ngugi’s first marriage collapsed due to detentions and exiles orchestrated by both Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi.

Nyambura died in 1995 and Thiong’o couldn’t attend her funeral as he was in exile in the United States.

He then married Njeri, who already had a daughter from a previous relationship with an African-American partner. The couple went on to have two children before separating last year.

Njeri is the director of Human Resource Faculty and Staff Conflict Resolution Services at the University of California, Irvine, where Ngugi is a Distinguished Professor at the Comparative Literature School of Humanities.

Born on 5. January 1938, Ngugi is an academic and one of Africa’s foremost novelists. He received his B.A. in English from Makerere University College, Uganda, in 1963. He shot into the limelight when he released his debut novel, “Weep Not Child” in May 1964, becoming the first published novel in English from East Africa.

He later went on to write other critically acclaimed novels such as “A Grain of Wheat”, “Devil on the Cross”, “Petals of Blood” and “The Wizard of the  Crow”. His seminal. scholarly work “Decolonizing the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature” remains a reference text in post-colonial African Literature.

He began writing in English, switching to writing primarily in Gikuyu. His work includes novels, plays, short stories, and essays, ranging from literary and social criticism to children’s literature. He is the founder and editor of the Gikuyu-language journal Mũtĩiri. His short story The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright has been translated into 100 languages.

Due to his writing about the injustices of the dictatorial government in Kenya at the time, Ngũgĩ, who was then teaching at the University of Nairobi, was imprisoned and his family were forced to live in exile after his release. It was only after Arap Moi, the longest-serving Kenyan president, retired in 2002, was it safe for them to return.

On 8 August 2004, Ngũgĩ returned to Kenya as part of a month-long tour of East Africa. On 11 August, robbers broke into his high-security apartment: they assaulted Ngũgĩ, sexually assaulted his wife Njeri and stole various items of value.

When Ngũgĩ returned to America at the end of his month trip, five men were arrested on suspicion of the crime, including his nephew.




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