Mukoma Wa Ngugi

Portrait Mukoma Wa Ngugi
© Hartwig Klappert

Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ was born in 1971 in Evanston, Illinois, the son of renowned Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Growing up in Kenya, he later returned to the USA where he studied political science at Albright College and creative writing at Boston University before graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ngũgĩ is currently an assistant professor at prestigious Cornell University. He is also a coordinator for the organisation »Toward an Africa without Borders«.His 2003 book »Conversing with Africa« analyses the dilemmas of the African continent, from poverty and despotism to the restrictions of the World Bank and the IMF; both lucid and polemical, it illustrates the desperate need for communal, overarching solutions. With impressive poetic imagery and characters, »Hurling Words at Consciousness« (2006) is a book of poetry which contrasts social injustice with close observation of everyday American life. »Nairobi Heat« (2008), meanwhile, reads like an African variation on the hardboiled detective story, as fast-paced as it is stylistically assured. In the character of the detective Ishmael Fofona, Ngũgĩ introduces a sophisticated narrator whose multicultural identity lends this politically charged whodunit a unique perspective. From Wisconsin to Nairobi he investigates a murder case whose background appears to lie in the Rwandan genocide. The sequel, »Black Star Nairobi« (2013), begins in December 2007 when the Kenyan presidential elections are overshadowed by violence between ethnic groups. A mysterious death is apparently connected to a hotel bombing; meanwhile, the perspective keeps shifting back to that other continent, where Barack Obama is battling for votes. Once again Ngũgĩ manages to view political power relationships and post-colonial racism through the prism of a familiar genre in a way that is both individual and topical. As a columnist, Ngũgĩ has written articles for the magazine »BBC Focus on Africa«. He has also served as editor of »Pambazuka News«, a pan-African email newsletter with a marked commitment to social justice and human rights which provides information on current political events. His political essays and columns have appeared in such publications as »The Guardian«, »Los Angeles Times«, »International Herald Tribune«, »Radical History Review«, »South African Labour Bulletin«, »Black Commentator« as well as the Kenyan daily newspapers »The East African« and »Daily Nation«. His poems and short stories have appeared in journals like »Tin House«, »Kwani?«, »Kenyon Review«, »Brick«, »New York Quarterly«, »St. Petersburg Review« and »Chimurenga«. Ngũgĩ lives in Norwalk, Connecticut.