Gabriel Ruhumbika

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Gabriel Ruhumbika (born 1938) is a Tanzanian novelist, short story writer, translator and academic. His first novel, Village in Uhuru, was published in 1969. He has written several subsequent novels in Swahili. He has also taught literature at a number of universities, and is currently a professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Georgia in the USA.

Early life[edit]

Ruhumbika was born in 1938 on Ukerewe Island in Lake Victoria. After studying for an undergraduate degree at the Makerere University in Uganda, he completed a PhD in African literature at the University of Paris-Sorbonne in France.[1]


Ruhumbika's first novel, Village in Uhuru, was published in 1969; this was the second English-language Tanzanian novel, after Peter Palangyo's Dying in the Sun (1968).[2] This is a historical novel, based on real events relating to questions of ethnic and national identity in the context of the Tanganyika African National Union's struggles for sovereignty in Tanganyika (now Tanzania).[2][3] Although Village in Uhuru was written and first published in English, Ruhumbika decided to write all of his subsequent novels in Swahili, a decision similar to that of Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o.[1]

His Swahili-language novels, which mainly cover the Pan-African Uhuru Movement, include Miradi Bubu ya Wazalendo (Invisible Enterprises of the Patriots, 1991) and Janga Sugu la Wazawa (Everlasting Doom for the Children of the Land, 2002).[1] He also wrote a collection of short stories, Uwike Usiwike Kutakuche (Whether the Cock Crows or Not It Dawns). Outside of his own writings, he has worked as a translator, mainly from French to Swahili, although he also translated Aniceti Kitereza's novel Myombekere and His Wife Bugonoka, Their Son Ntulanalwo, and Daughter Bulihwali from Kikerewe into English.[4]

Ruhumbika has also taught literature at various universities, in both Africa and the USA.[1] He has lectured at the University of Dar es Salaam (from 1970 to 1985) and Hampton University in Virginia (from 1985 to 1992). Since 1992, he has been a Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Georgia.[4][5]


  1. ^ a b c d Killam, G. D.; Kerfoot, Alicia L. (2008). Student Encyclopedia of African Literature. ABC-CLIO. p. 273. ISBN 978-0-313-33580-8. 
  2. ^ a b Gérard, Albert S. (1986). European-language Writing in Sub-Saharan Africa. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 957. ISBN 978-963-05-3834-3. 
  3. ^ Killam, G. D. (1984). The Writing of East and Central Africa. East African Publishers. pp. 63–64. ISBN 978-0-435-91671-8. 
  4. ^ a b Gikandi, Simon; Mwangi, Evan (2007). The Columbia Guide to East African Literature in English Since 1945. Columbia University Press. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-231-12520-8. 
  5. ^ "Gabriel Ruhumbika | Comparative Literature". University of Georgia. Retrieved 1 February 2013.