15 Powerful Quotes By Kenyan Writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

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Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Kenya’s most celebrated literary icon who was a favorite for the Nobel Prize for literature last year, was born January 5, 1938.

The now 79-year old literary giant has works that cover the mediums of novels, plays, short stories, children’s literature, and essays which range from literary to social criticism.

See Also: Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s Short Story Translated Into 30 Languages

Here are 15 powerful quotes by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o about language, writing, and Africa;



  • Our fathers fought bravely. But do you know the biggest weapon unleashed by the enemy against them? It was not the Maxim gun. It was division among them. Why? Because a people united in faith are stronger than the bomb
    ― Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, A Grain of Wheat
  • There is no way we can survive as a nation in the world without finding unity.
  • Christianity and Western civilization; what countless crimes have been committed in thy name!
  • The condition of women in a nation is the real measure of its progress.
    ― Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Wizard of the Crow

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

  • We think of politics in terms of power and who has the power. Politics is the end to which that power is put.
  • What’s good about writing is that when you write novels or fiction, people can see that the problems in one region are similar to problems in another region.
  • There are some people, be they black or white, who don’t want others to rise above them. They want to be the source of all knowledge and share it piecemeal to others less endowed. That is what’s wrong with all these carpenters and men who have a certain knowledge. It is the same with rich people.
  • Written words can also sing.
    ― Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir
  • I was wondering why I was put in prison for working in an African language when I had not been put in prison for working in English. So really, in prison, I started thinking more seriously about the relation between language and power.
  • Your own actions are a better mirror of your life than the actions of all your enemies put together.
    ― Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Wizard of the Crow

See Also: Ghanaian Literary Icon, Ama Ata Aidoo Walks Out Of Event In Her Honor – See Why

  • I think a repressive regime always fears people who are awakened – particularly ordinary people. If they are awakened, I think governments all over the world feel uncomfortable about that; they want to be in control. They want to be the ones telling people: “This is what we have done in history” but when people begin to say, “No this is what we have done in history” it’s a different thing.
  • It was a revelation for me, in a practical sense, that you could write in an African language and still reach an audience beyond that language through the art of translation.
  • If we want to turn Africa into a new Europe … then let us leave the destiny of our countries to Europeans. They will know how to do it better than the most gifted among us.
    ― Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, In the Name of the Mother: Reflections on Writers and Empire

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

  • He carried the Bible; the soldier carried the gun; the administrator and the settler carried the coin. Christianity, Commerce, Civilization: the Bible, the Coin, the Gun: Holy Trinity.
    ― Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Petals of Blood
  • In terms of language, English is very dominant vis-Ã-vis African language. That in itself is a power relationship – between languages and communities – because the English language is a determinant of the ladder to achievement.

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