By Gloria Nakajubi
Celebrated Kenyan writer and distinguished professor, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, is due to grace the 50 years of the University of East Africa commemoration slated for this Saturday in Kampala.
A former student of Makerere University College in Kampala (then under the University of East Africa), Ngugi will deliver a keynote address titled: “50 years of education transformation and development: prospects for the future in celebration of the 50 years of the University of East Africa.”
“We are celebrating the alumni of the University of East Africa, and Ngugi, being one of the prominent alumni, it’s prudent to have him deliver a keynote address.” Ritah Namisango, public relations officer of Makerere University, said.
The 75-year-old African writer from the Kikuyu tribe received a Bachelors of Arts degree in English from the Ugandan institution in 1963, a year before publishing his first novel, Weep Not Child in 1964.
Other works of his include The River Between, The Black Hermit (play), A Grain of Wheat, Petals of Blood and Wizard of the Crow.
The Black Hermit was produced in Kampala in 1962.
Most these books have been used on the Ugandan and Kenyan (and beyond) education syllabi. He has also written plenty of Kenyan literature.
His works through the years have managed to capture the kind of appeal as those of fallen Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe who died in March this year. The latter's book Things Fall Apart (1958) is reportedly the most widely read book in modern African literature.
Makerere's PRO said the commemoration is part activities that were lined up in celebration of the “Makerere at 90 celebrations” that were launched in August last year.
“The role played by the University of East Africa towards the current Makerere University cannot be underestimated as we envisage the rekindling of the East African spirit,” said Namisango.
She noted that the event will also be used to honour Tanzanian Mwalimu Julius Nyerere (RIP), the first and only Chancellor of the University of East Africa.
Namisango revealed that this will also involve the official launch of the English version of Nyerere’s book, Women’s Freedom, Women are Eagles not Chickens.
“Nyerere will be recognised for his contribution towards women freedom and we are glad that one of our professors, Ruth Mukama, was honoured to translate his book into English so it can capture the non-Swahili speakers,” she noted.
As part of the recognition, Nyerere’s bust will be unveiled to immortalise him in honour of his contribution to both the scholarly world and the independence struggle within the East African region.
The same function will be used for the launch of the famous Mak@90 magazine, a book that was written and published in partnership with Ugandan media company, Vision Group.
John Eremu, the New Vision Features Editor and other members of the editorial team, together with the public relations team of Makerere, were behind this project that highlights the journey of the university through the years to its 90th anniversary.
President Yoweri Museveni is expected to preside over the function and vice-chancellors of the universities of Nairobi and Dar-es-salaam are set to attend.