Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

Ngugi wa Mirii was born in Roromo, Limuru in 1952 as the second born in a family of six to John Mirii and Elizabeth Wanjiku. He was educated at Ngenia Secondary School and from 1972 to 1974 he worked with the Kenya Posts and Telecommunications.

He took a diploma in Adult Education at the Institute of Adult Studies, Nairobi University and then joined the Institute of Developmental Studies. Whilst working for the Institute he became involved with peasants and workers in Community Development at Kamiriithu, Limuru. It is then that he co-authored the play Ngaahika Ndenda, in 1977 (I Will Marry When I Want) with Prof. Ngugi wa Thiong'o. The play's uncensored political message became very popular in Kenya, and the government went ahead to censor it. Despite his arrest and torture Comrade Ngugi continued with his activism.

In 1982, he collaborated on yet another play written by Prof. Ngugi along with Dr. Kimani Gecau, 'Mother Sing for Me'. This time the authorities were ruthless. Fearing for his life and that of his family, Comrade went underground and then went into exile in Zimbabwe. He was joined a year later by his wife, Wairimu wa Ngugi and one-year old daughter, Elizabeth Wanjiku Ngugi. Comrade Ngugi then joined Zimbabwean Foundation for Education with Production (ZIMFEP) where he worked for a few years.

Ngugi was above all a man of action. He was a theatre lover, and in 1985 he founded the Zimbabwe Association of Community Theatre (ZACT), an umbrella organisation for which had a membership of over 300 hundred theatre groups in its lifetime. Through ZACT Comrade helped the youth concientise their communities on vast issues. The concept was theatre for the people by the people--for concientization really on issues ranging from the political to championing rights for women and addressing the rapidly spreading HIV/AIDS. His contributions to the world of theatre in Zimbabwe, Southern Africa and the rest of the world is immense.

Ngugi loved writing. If he wasn't with his family or friends, or reading, he was writing. Writing was his mainstay, and it is how he connected us with his ideas. He wrote extensively on the question of neo-colonialism and imperialism. His focus was always towards a united Africa, but he was also an internationalist. He traveled all over the world connecting the Pan-African struggle to the international movement in the fight against imperialism. Those who know him, know that he was very passionate about this. Shortly before his tragic death, he had just returned from a conference where he gave a key note address in the USA at a conference titled 'Creative Uprisings.: Work at the Intersection of Art, Education and Activism that has engaged masses of people in some sort of mobilization.

The death of Comrade Ngugi--the son of two Nations as he so often referred to himself--is a loss to not only Kenya and Zimbabwe but to Africa as a whole. It is a loss of an outstanding intellectual, really a man of ideas, a fighter for peace and progress, and a dedicated patriot of Africa. Indeed his life energies were ultimately dedicated to the Pan-African dream, which he one-day hoped to see realised. He will remain one of our great pan-Africanists, and we can only hope that his dream will triumph some-day. That is what Ngugi would have wanted, that is what he dreamed, that is what he lived for.

To quote many, Ngugi was a beautiful human being, a Kenyan revolutionary, our friend, our comrade; To lose him is to lose part of our ourselves.

Cde. Ngugi was also a loving Husband, father and son. He is survived by his wife, Margaret Wairimu Ngugi, and five children. Martha Nyambura, John Mirii Ngugi, Elizabeth Wanjiku, Jane Wangari, and Kiarii (Kish) Ngugi; his parents, brothers and Sisters. May his soul rest in eternal peace!

* Wanjiku Wa Ngugi is a Kenyan activist.

**Please send comments to or comment online at