Yale University Honors Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o With A Doctor Of Letters Degree


Ngugi wa Thiong’o, a distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at University of California-Irvine was on Monday awarded an honorary degree by Yale University for his distinct achievement in the literary field.

Ngugi is a world-renowned Kenyan writer, scholar, and social activist. His diverse body of work includes novels, short stories, plays, articles, essays, and poems, which have been translated into over 60 languages. He has received numerous awards and now boasts 12 honorary doctorates.

Ngugi refers to himself as a “language warrior” because of his fight for the recognition of his native Gĩkũyũ and other marginalized languages. Some of the books he has authored and earned critical acclaim include: Weep not Child, The River Between, A Grain of Wheat,  Petals of Blood, and Devil on the Cross.

At Yale’s 316th Commencement, Ngugi joined 7 other well known individuals who received an honorary degree for impeccable contribution in their respective field. The others include: Marin Alsop, Cornelia Bargmann, Irwin Jacobs, John Kerry, John R. Lewis, Stevie Wonder and Jess Little Doe Baird.

The citation on Ngugi’s Doctor of Letters reads:

“..You have shown us the power of words to change the world. You have written in English and in your Kenyan language, Gĩkũyũ; you have worked in prison cells and in exile; and you have survived assassination attempts — all to bring attention to the plight of ordinary people in Kenya and around the world. Brave wordsmith, for breaking down barriers, for showing us the potential of literature to incite change and promote justice, for helping us decolonize our minds and open them to new ideas, we are privileged to award you this degree of Doctor of Letters”