Kenyan Professor Wins Prestigious UK Award

  • Professor Micere Mugo during a previous speaking engagement (undated)
    Professor Micere Mugo during a previous speaking engagement (undated)
    Courtesy Wachanga Production
  • Kenyan playwright, author, activist, instructor, and literature professor Micere Mugo was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Royal African Society.

    The award honours and pays tribute to individuals who have made a major contribution to African literature. 

    Mugo, a fierce poet and author, was forced into exile from Kenya in 1982 for her activism. The then government led by President Daniel Arap Moi targeted Mugo for her works and she fleed the country.

     Professor Micere Mugo during a previous speaking engagement (undated)
    Professor Micere Mugo during a previous speaking engagement (undated)
    Courtesy Wachanga Production

    Born in 1942, in Baricho, Kenya during the colonial period, Mugo’s parents were progressive in their beliefs and insisted that she receive a substantial education.

    She became one of the first black students in Kenya to be allowed to enrol in what had previously been a white-only school.

    Although her parents wanted her to become a doctor, Mugo decided to pursue literature. She began writing poetry in her teenage years and went on to attend Makerere University.

    Mugo studied drama at Makerere University and even won an award for best actress at the Uganda Drama Festival. Her literary aspirations were encouraged by acclaimed author Chinua Achebe.

    She graduated with honours in 1966 and became active in politics. Due to her political beliefs, Mugo was once arrested and detained and she then decided to leave Kenya and enrol at the University of New Brunswick in Canada.

    After fleeing the country in 1982 she went to Zimbabwe where she taught literature. Currently, Mugo teaches in the United States where she is now a professor of literature in the Department of African American Studies at Syracuse University.

    Mugo’s publications include six books, a play co-authored with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, and three monographs. She was a founder of the Pan African Community of Central New York and one of the organisation’s first presidents. 

    She is also the founder and former president of the Syracuse-based United Women of Africa Organisation. Her many awards and honours include a Rockefeller Foundation Award for writing and publication, a Ford Foundation Award for research on African orature and human rights, and the Marcus Garvey Award from the Canadian Branch of U.N.I.A.

     Professor Micere Mugo during a previous speaking engagement (undated)
    Professor Micere Mugo during a previous speaking engagement (undated)
    Courtesy African Lit
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