Writers in Politics is a collection of essays written by one of Kenya’s greatest authors, Ngugi wa Thiong’o. He wrote them in the ten years between 1970 and 1980. They are a reflection of the thoughts that dominated his mind at that milieu. A milieu rife of political assassinations and detention without trial of perceived dissidents.
He carries the reader vicariously through some of the most dramatic years of his life. From his bright days as a lecturer at the University of Nairobi to his dark days as a prisoner in a dungeon in at Kamiti Maximum Prison.
Quintessential of Prof. Wa Thiong’o, the thematic issues of language and theatre dominate his pages. His herein, is a patriotic citizen playing his role. His role in the continuing struggle of the Kenyan people against foreign domination in their politics, culture and economics.
His thoughts on literature and politics remain relevant five decades later.
In case you are wondering what a lecturer of Literature is doing in the murky waters of politics, here’s his response:
“…Literature cannot escape from the class power structures that shape our everyday life. Here a writer has no choice. Whether or not he is aware of it, his works reflect one or more aspects of the intense economic, political, cultural and ideological struggles in a society. What he can do is one or the other side in the battle field: the side of the people, or the side of those social forces and classes that try to keep the people down. What he or she cannot do is to remain neutral. Every writer is a writer in politics. The only question is what and whose politics?”