Your future lies between the hard covers, Ngugi told me

Prof Ngugi wa Thiong'o and author Dr Peter Kimani at the University of Houston in November 2014. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The new system placed great emphasis on practical skills, but even as educationists experimented with our lives, I was having ideas of my own. I knew I wanted to be a writer soon after joining Form I.
  • My mother wanted me to be a teacher, which was understandable. She dedicated three decades of her life to the Ministry of Education.
  • I took with me Weep Not, Child by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, which I read quickly. It is difficult to re-enact the emotions that the book stirred in me. Having been weaned on a diet of James Hardly Chase thrillers, as well as the Hardy Boys mystery series, the book’s proximity to my own experience left in me awe, and stirred a restlessness that would only be quelled by more reading of Ngugi.
  • I was Ngugi’s host at the University of Houston as he was sitting on my doctoral committee. I rode on his celebrity as the student who brought the world intellectual to Houston. There was a luncheon at the historically black Texas Southern University, where November 11 was declared Ngugi wa Thiong’o Day.

When fishes flew and forests walked

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