One of Africa’s literary giants Professor Micere Githae Mugo has died. Mugo, a writer, poet, dramatist, activist, feminist and literary critic died on Friday 30 June 2023 after a protracted illness. She was aged 81.
Aside from her monumental literary interventions in various genres, Mugo is also famous for being a co-author of “The Trial of Dedan Kimathi” with another leading light of African literature Professor Ngugi Wa Thiong O.
Mugo, who until her demise was Professor of African studies at Syracuse University in New York was a revolutionary and an icon of liberation struggle who was forced into exile in 1982 after becoming a target of official government harassment in Kenya.
While in exile in Zimbabwe she met the likes of famous Ghanaian writer, Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, who died recently.
Mugo was stripped of her Kenyan citizenship by the regime of Daniel Arap Moi and had to work and live abroad. In 1984, Zimbabwe gave her citizenship, to which she celebrated by saying “I’m a child of the universe, I have lived in almost all continents.”
She was also famous for so many quotations, one of which is: “Writing can be a lifeline, especially when your existence has been denied, especially when you have been left on the margins, especially when your life and process of growth have been subjected to attempts at strangulation.”
The Communist Party of Kenya in their tribute said Mugo’s life exemplified true revolutionaries’ tenacity and she bravely embraced her African identify and used her words to fight Kenya’s oppressive policies.
“Micere Githae Mugo’s steadfast advocacy and quest of truth and freedom placed her among those who opposed Daniel Arap Moi’s authoritarian administration. She fled to Zimbabwe and the US in 1982 due to her activity. Micere Mugo’s orature, literature, and creative writing lessons shaped a generation of intellectually free rebels.
“Micere Githae Mugo’s six novels, including a drama co-written with Ngugi wa Thiong’o and three notable monographs, have left an indelible mark. She edited important publications and shaped the Zimbabwean school curriculum. She worked to empower generations with information and critical thinking, enriching African literature and education.
“The Communist Party of Kenya recognises Micere Githae Mugo’s 2002 East African Standard list of Kenya’s 100 most influential persons. This honour shows her commitment to social justice and mass awakening.
“As we mourn this revolutionary wordsmith, let us recommit to her ideals. Inspired by Micere Githae Mugo’s unwavering fortitude and powerful voice, we will continue to examine and dismantle our society’s repressive systems,” the statement reads.
Writet and academic Dr. Mukoma Wa Ngugi has also reacted to Mugo’s demise. He wrote on his Famous page: “I have known Prof. Micere all my life, from The Trial of Dedan Kimathi play rehearsals in Limuru in the 70’s, to meeting up in Syracuse. She is the only person that I have met who truly practiced Ubuntu/utu in all she did, whether political or personal. These are sad times.”