World-renowned novelist, playwright, essayist and human rights activist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o named a 2008 Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Theo Gonzalves, (808) 956-8570
Department of American Studies
Posted: Apr 22, 2008

HONOLULU — Ngũgĩ wa Thiong‘o, author of internationally acclaimed books, playwright, essayist and human rights activist, was named a 2008 Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals. Ngũgĩ will be participating in public lectures at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus and at UH Hilo from April 28 to May 2, 2008.

"Few people are more deserving of being honored for a lifetime‘s pursuit of democratic ideals than Ngũgĩ wa Thiong‘o," said David Stannard, Chair of American Studies at UH Mānoa.

Throughout his career, Ngũgĩ has received numerous honors, including endowed university chairs, honorary doctorates, peace prizes and book awards. In the 1960s, he studied at universities in Kenya and England, and returned to become a professor of English at Nairobi University. He established a theater and wrote a series of novels and plays published in Kenya and throughout the world that were critical of colonial rule.

Stung by his criticism, authorities arrested Ngũgĩ in 1977 and sentenced him to maximum-security imprisonment, naming him a threat to "the preservation of public security." Amnesty International and other human rights organizations demanded his freedom as "a prisoner of conscience." The campaign was successful, but during a subsequent trip to England, Ngũgĩ received word that he was targeted for assassination should he return to Kenya. He became an exile from his homeland at the same time that he was being celebrated as one of Africa‘s most influential authors of the twentieth century.

After years of professorships at Yale University and New York University, Ngũgĩ is presently a professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Irvine and Director of the International Center of Writing and Translation.

The Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals is jointly administered by the William S. Richardson School of Law and the Department of American Studies in the College of Arts and Humanities. The chair is a visiting academic position held by a distinguished public figure. The chair-holder offers lectures and seminars for the campus and the community that emphasize democratic processes and the importance of public life.

The following events are free and open to the public:

Monday, April 28
"The Myth of Tribes in African Politics"
UH Mānoa Campus Center Ballroom
7 p.m.

Wednesday, April 30
Reception, 5 p.m.
Reading and book signing with Albert Wendt, 6 p.m.
UH Mānoa Hawaiian Studies Auditorium, Hālau o Haumea

Friday, May 2
An Evening with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o - "Globalization: Readings from Wizard of the Crow"
UH-Hilo - UCB 100
7 p.m.