New York University President John Sexton today bestowed an honorary doctorate on Kenyan author and cultural critic Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo at NYUs 176th Commencement Exercises in Yankee Stadium. Over 25,000 graduates, faculty, staff, and guests attended the morning ceremony.
The following citation was read in conferring the Doctor of Letters degree, honoris causa, on Ngñgĩ wa Thiongo:
Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo-as one of the worlds foremost writers and most significant political, social and cultural thinkers, your role in the development of Gikuyu written culture is foundational, your place in modern Kenyan culture and politics unique, your stature in African culture at large nonpareil. Your highly acclaimed series of novels about Kenya pre-and post-independence mix lyricism, a deep sense of place, and careful characterization with hard-nosed political and social commentary and polemic and often parodic humor. Your most recent and masterful novel, Wizard of the Crow, explores the fraught relations of artistic and linguistic creation against the exigencies of neocolonial governments. Your powerful plays explore the idea of a genuinely translinguistic national culture and sparked a governments wrath and subsequent imprisonment and exile. A cultural and political critic of immense power, you have shown us what it means to create cultures, to reinstate cultures, and how one may take back ones culture. We proudly claim you as our cherished former colleague and Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Languages at New York University and salute you as Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo-novelist, essayist, playwright, journalist, editor, academic, and social activist, for nearly half a century you have raised your eloquent voice with utmost courage in the cause of democratic and human rights. By virtue of the authority vested in me by New York University, I am pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.