I was struck by the irony of the arrival of the distinguished writer Mukoma wa Ngugi, who arrived at the University of Nouakchott amidst violent strikes that resulted in the indefinite closing of the entire campus. Due to the current crisis, the University was forced to hold all of Mukoma wa Ngugi's lectures and workshops at an off-campus location. Unfortunately, this negatively impacted the potential impact these programs could have had, as not as many students were able to participate.
Mukoma wa Ngugi is the son of the world-renowned writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o, who happens to be my all-time favorite writer. Ngugi’s writing focuses heavily on the fight against corruption and cultural imperialism. In his recent book, Something Torn and New, Ngugi "argues that a renaissance of African languages is a necessary step in the restoration of African wholeness." The power of language is at the heart of the struggle happening on campus, where the students have become sharply divided based on ethnic and political lines. The arrival of Mukoma wa Ngugi during this time of turmoil seems like something out of a novel itself.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend any of the sessions due to scheduling conflicts with my classes at the teacher training college. However, I did have a chance to meet Mukoma wa Ngugi during two evenings of entertainment that consisted of marvelous blues music and poetry. It was a genuine honor to hear his perspective and listen to his stories.
I wish that more of the students could have participated in these programs. I hope that Mukoma wa Ngugi inspired the students to fight injustice using their pens instead of throwing rocks, the faculty to design courses that teach creativity and self-expression, and the administration to embrace a new era of transparency and equality.