Micere Githae Mugo

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Micere Githae Mugo (born Madeleine Micere Githae in 1942) is a playwright, author, activist, instructor and poet from Kenya.[1] She is a literary critic and professor of literature in the Department of African American Studies at Syracuse University. She was forced into exile in 1982 from Kenya during the Daniel Arap Moi dictatorship for activism and moved to teach in Zimbabwe, and later the United States. Mwalimu Mugo teaches Orature, Literature, and Creative Writing. Her publications include six books, a play co-authored with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o and three monographs. She has also edited journals and the Zimbabwean school curriculum. The East African Standard listed her among the 100 most influential people in Kenya in 2002.[2]

Early life[edit]

Mugo was born in 1942, in Baricho, Kirinyaga District, Kenya. The daughter of two progressive (liberal) teachers who were politically active in Kenya's fight for independence,[3] she received a solid primary and secondary education in Kenya, attending Alliance Girls High School.[4] She became one of the first black students to be allowed to enroll in what had previously been a segregated academy.[5] She later attended Makerere University (where she gained her B.A. in 1966), the University of New Brunswick (gaining her M.A. in 1973) and University of Toronto (where she gained her PhD in 1978).[5] She took up a teaching position at the University of Nairobi in 1973,[6] and in 1978[6] or 1980[7] became Dean of the Faculty of Arts, making her the first female faculty dean in Kenya. She taught at the University of Nairobi until 1982, and has also taught at the University of Zimbabwe.


Mugo was a political activist who fought against human rights abuses in Kenya.[7] Her political activism led to her being harassed by the police and arrested.[7] Mugo and her family (including two young daughters) were forced to depart Kenya in 1982 after the attempted coup of the Daniel Arap Moi government after which she became a target of official government harassment.[8] She was stripped of her Kenyan citizenship but was given Zimbabwean citizenship. She has worked, written, and taught from abroad since she left Kenya.[5] Since 1984 she has been a citizen of Zimbabwe.[6]

"I’m a child of the universe, I have lived in almost all continents." — Micere Githae Mugo

Late career[edit]

Mugo is the founder and President of the Pan African Community of Central New York where she initiated volunteer programs in two prisons.[7] She has been an official speaker for Amnesty International and a consultant for the "Africa on the Horizon" series by Blackside.[7] Currently she is a consultant for many foundations, and on the board of many journals. She also served as chairperson of the board of directors of SARIPS, the Southern Africa Regional Institute for Policy Studies in Harare.[7] She is currently a lecturer in Pan-African Studies at Syracuse University, where she continues her activism and writing:

"Writing can be a lifeline, especially when your existence has been denied, especially when you have been left on the margins, especially when your life and process of growth have been subjected to attempts at strangulation."[9] ― Micere Githae Mugo


Mugo is a distinguished poet, and the author or editor of 15 books.[7] Her work is generally from a traditional African, Pan-African and feminist perspective, and draws heavily upon indigenous African cultural traditions. She has also collaborated with the Zimbabwean writer Shimmer Chinodya in editing plays and stories for adolescents in Shona.[6]



  • Daughter of My People, Sing!, East African Literature Bureau, 1976
  • My Mother's Song and Other Poems, East African Educational Publishers, 1994

Literary criticism


  • Writing & Speaking from the Heart of My Mind, Africa World Press, 2012


  • "The Top 100: They Influenced Kenya Most during the 20th Century", East African Standard – 2002
  • Distinguished Africanist Scholar Award – 2007
  • Courage Award, Girl Scout Council of Central New York
  • President of United Women of Africa
  • CNY Women of Distinction Award – 2008,
  • Lifetime Community Service Award (CNY Women Syracuse Chapter)
  • Beyond Community Recognition Awards, Inc. – 2004,
  • Human Rights Award, Onondaga County Human Rights Commission – 2004.
  • Rockefeller Foundation Award for writing and publication – 1992
  • Ford Foundation Award for research on African orature and human rights 1987–90
  • Marcus Garvey Award from the Canadian Branch of UNIA (1985).

TV appearances[edit]


She has two well-known siblings in Kenya: former Chief Nursing Officer Eunice Muringo Kiereini and the politician Robinson Njeru Githae. Their father was Solomon Githendui Githae (1904–2007).[10]


  1. ^ "Micere Mugo (Micere Githae Mugo) Biography – (1942– ), (Micere Githae Mugo), Visions of Africa, The Long Illness of Ex-Chief Kit, Disillusioned". Jrank.org. 
  2. ^ Judy Holmes (11 April 2011). "Micere Githae Mugo to receive 2011 Prize for Excellence in Masters Level Teaching at Syracuse University". College of Arts and Sciences, Syracuse University. 
  3. ^ Margaret Busby, "Micere Githae Mugo", Daughters of Africa, Cape, 1992, p, 551.
  4. ^ "Alliance Girls High School: Historical Perspectives". Alliancegirlshigh.com. 28 February 1948. Retrieved 2011-08-09. 
  5. ^ a b c "Micere Githae Mugo: Biography from". Answers.com. 22 October 2001. 
  6. ^ a b c d Killam, Douglas; Rowe, Ruth, eds. (2000), "Mugo, Micere Githae (1942–)", The Companion to African Literatures, Oxford: J. Currey, pp. 166–167. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Women's WORLD". Wworld.org. 
  8. ^ "A Conversation with Micere Mugo & Ngugi wa Thiong'o". Moraagitaa.com. 
  9. ^ "Micere Githae Mugo Quotes (Author of The Trial of Dedan Kimathi)". Goodreads.com. 
  10. ^ "The Immortals: The Githaes: Pedigree of education, business acumen", The Standard (Kenya), 22 October 2015.

External links[edit]