BIEA Nairobi Annual Lecture
Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo, Emeritus Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence; past Chair of the Department of African American Studies; past Director of the Africa Initiative and past Director of Graduate Studies in AAS at SU, is a poet, playwright and literary critic who has published 7 books, 8 co-edited supplementary school readers, 3 monographs and edited the journal, Third World in Perspective. Her works include: Illuminations on Chinua Achebe: the Art of Resistance (Essay Collection with Ruffin); Writing and Speaking from the Heart of my Mind (selected essays and speeches); Art, Artists and the Flowering of Pan-Africana Liberated Zones (monograph); My Mother’s Poem and Other Songs (poetry); The Long Illness of Ex-Chief Kiti (play); Daughter of My People, Sing! (poetry); Visions of Africa (literary criticism); African Orature and Human Rights (monograph); Gikũyũ, Shona and Ndebele Ethics and Aesthetics (monograph); Mũthoni wa Kĩrĩma–Mau Mau Woman Field Marshal: Interrogating Silencing, Erasure and Manipulation of Female Combatants’ Texts (monograph) and The Trial of Dedan Kimathi (play, co-authored with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o). Professor Mũgo has many firsts including: being the first student in segregated colonial Kenya to be admitted into an all-white school, Limuru Girls’ High (in 1960); the first person (male or female) in East Africa to receive a doctorate in Literature (in 1973) and the first woman to be elected Dean of Arts (comprising of the arts, humanities and social sciences) at the University of Nairobi (in 1978). Mĩcere is a recipient of numerous honors, including: a forthcoming documentary on her life and work, Making Life Sing in Pursuit of Utu by Professor D.W. Wachanga, University of Wisconsin; the Lifetime Achievement Award in African Literature by Africa Writes, Royal African Society, London; Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Nairobi; the Flora Nwapa Award for excellence in writing; Distinguished Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Award from the University of Dar es Salaam; the Nelson Mandela Leadership Award; College of Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Master Level Teaching and Distinguished Africanist Award from the New York African Studies Association for her contribution to scholarship. At the Kenya 50th jubilee in December 2013, Mῖcere was awarded the Elder of the Burning Spear and in November 2002, The East African Standard Century had listed her among “The Top 100: They Influenced Kenya Most During the 20th Century.” Mĩcere is also a member of numerous organizations and serves on many committees, advisory and executive boards and directorships – locally as well as internationally. She is the founder of the United Women of Africa Organization; a co-founder of the Pan African Society of Central New York and its current President; and a member of the Ghana Society of Central New York. A committed community activist, Mĩcere is a passionate advocate for human rights especially as they have been historically denied to marginalized groups. She describes her daughters, Mũmbi and the late Njeri, as her best friends and comrades in struggles for social justice.
Professor Muhonja is a brilliant researcher, academician and intellectual, whose scholarship includes an analysis of my theorization on utu, orature and feminism.