Friday, March 19, 2010

Reading: Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Two African-American ladies in the audience cheered and applauded when Thiong'o mentioned Marcus Garvey.  Old radicals, I imagine.  Righteous.  We post-colonialists need to stick together. 

Ngugi wa Thiong'o reads more like a poet than a prose writer.  He selected a number of shorter excerpts from his memoir and linked them with reminisces and digressions.  He reminded me of an old English professor, delivering a lecture, but the deeper he goes into the material, the more he recalls scenes from his own life that coalesce off the page.  When a questioner asked about his reaction to the death of South African poet Dennis Brutus, Thiong'o recalled a story in which he and his wife were travelling with Brutus.  Thiong'o's wife went through without a problem, but Thiong'o and Brutus were held back.  Thiong'o was soon released, but as time passed, they began to worry about Brutus.  Eventually, they saw Brutus walking towards them, waving a sheet of paper.  "Look," Brutus said.  "I wrote a poem."


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