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Ngugi wa Thiong’o receives honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Edinburgh

July 15, 2019
Ngugi wa Thiong’o receives honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Edinburgh
The honorary degree conferred July 8 on Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Distinguished Professor of comparative literature and English, was in recognition of his significant leadership in shifting the focus and language of African writing. University of Edinburgh

Ngugi wa Thiong’o, UCI Distinguished Professor of comparative literature and English, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by Scotland’s University of Edinburgh on July 8. He was presented to the university’s academic senate by Thomas Molony of the School of Social & Political Science, who recognized the Kenyan author’s significant leadership in shifting the focus and language of African literature. Since 1967, Ngugi has written novels and essays only in his native Gikuyu and Swahili, and much of his work has explored language as an instrument of subversion of personal identities through colonization. He coined the term “securing the base” – an investment in one’s own culture and resources – in pointing to the contrasts between Afrocentric and Eurocentric perspectives. In remarks at the ceremony, Ngugi credited his unschooled mother, Wanjiku wa Ngugi, for his pursuit of an education; and Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson for his love of reading. It was Ngugi’s 13th honorary degree.