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African diaspora to fete Prof Ngugi at US event

 Poet and author Prof Ngugi wa Thiong’o. [Beverlyne Musili, Standard]

Kenyans and Africans in the diaspora have rolled out an elaborate event in honour of one of Africa’s literary giants, renowned poet and author Prof Ngugi wa Thiong’o in Atlanta, Georgia in the US.

The one-day ceremony will bring together at least 300 people, from diverse backgrounds, to celebrate Prof Ngugi and will be livestreamed across the globe on June 22.

The event will showcase his remarkable contributions and influence in academia and contemporary culture over the decades.

Multiple diaspora organisations under the Kenya Diaspora Alliance-USA (KDA-USA), Association of Kenyan Diaspora Organisations (AKDO), One Voice Consortium (OVC) and Kenya Studies and Scholars Association (KESSA), among others have organised the event.

KDA-USA President Dr Bernard Marasa, who is the convener, says they want to recognise and pay tribute to someone whose literary works have inspired millions.

“As a literary icon, Mwalimu Ngugi’s writings have provoked critical questions about the ‘independence’ we won and the bitter fruit it became in the hands of African leaders in a neo-colonialism era,” he says.

“Prof Ngugi has forced us to see, or at least debate, a national and indeed a continental failure to decolonise minds. Words from the barrel of Ngugi’s often-acerbic pen have inspired millions to continue wrestling post-independence ills that crush young dreams,” adds author and medical device manufacturing executive Washington Osiro.

Mkawasi Mcharo Hall, a Baltimore-based scholar, says: “Mwalimu’s character lives in culturally-identifiable spaces, yet he easily brings it home with global audiences that read and celebrate him, proof that one does not need to abandon their culture to be accepted by others; true to the Swahili adage that mwacha mila ni mtumwa.”

The event will be open to women, men and youth seeking to honour Ngugi and his works. Speakers will include his contemporaries in the literature and scholarly fields as well younger generations inspired by the values he espouses.

“Deliberate outreach will be extended to his alma maters, universities where he has been a professor as well as Mwalimu’s publishers,” says Dr Marasa.

He adds: “Mwalimu Ngugi is an academic who has graced the corridors of several colleges. He has received over a dozen honorary degrees from institutions across the globe. He continues to engage, write and teach as opportunity allows.”

He says the organisers are open to partnering with different entities and individuals who feel inspired by Ngugi’s works to make “the event as colourful as it can be”.

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