Guest Post: Ngugi – The Afternoon Sun in London

Written by Efemena Agadama who has come to London from Nigeria to study. He often contributes articles on human rights issues to his Amnesty International blog and is interested in writing for theatre production.

Also, today is Efemena’s birthday.
Happy birthday!

Writers are like the early morning sun that must be seen no matter how little up there in the sky, while great writers are like the afternoon sun that is not only seen but strongly felt.  And it was the afternoon sun that Ngugi Wa Thiong’o threw on the stage of The 20th Century Theatre in London at the just rolling off month of March.

It was an evening that was eaten up by the night yet the 20th Century Theatre hall was the exact inside of a floodlight, glowing with the rare fragrance of the professor of letters.  Do you still remember the sweet and never fading fragrance of “Weep Not, Child?”  If you do, what about the flowery sight of “The River Between;” the enjoyable themes of “A Grain of Wheat;” and the fountanous “I will Marry When I Want.”  In fact, there are countless works of this great writer that you ought to read.

As I said, the evening was eaten up by the night with everywhere full of diverse people from different gardens of literature. Are you thinking of poets, playwrights, novelists, philosophers, tourists?  Ha! There were more from other disciplines.
Ngugi flowed in his rosy conversation about his new book: “Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir.” He also discussed themes and stories behind some of his previous works.  It was the best of evenings and of nights in London for some time now. Questions were asked, questions were shot, questions were fired and questions were streamed to him like the gentle flow of water after a soft rainfall and the white-haired Ngugi smiled as he answered them, not just as a writer but as a white-haired professor of letters. I saw on that stage the sixty-six unwritten theories of how a white-haired professor should be in his old age.
He later did book signings before the sweet curtain was drawned and everyone was glad that the fertile garden of letters who has received many awards shone beyond writers’ expectations.  Let me whisper to you some of his numerous laurels: Distinguished Africanist Award from the New York African Studies Association (1996), the Fonlon-Nichols prize (1996), the Zora Neale Hurston-Paul Robeson Award (1993), the Lotus prize for Afro-Asian literature (1973), UNESCO first prize…… (1963), East Africa Novel Prize (1962). 1965 Dakar Festival of Negro Arts and the East African Literature Bureau, both for his “Weep Not, Child”.
Although, the event has just rolled up, the sunlight still lights the stage of that reverred 20th Century Theatre to this hour.

Kensal Green Cemetery: Tagore

Crisp, but not cold, Autumn air filled our lungs as we strolled slowly through the cemetery on Sunday afternoon. The dirt paths were covered in crinkled leaves that crunched satisfyingly under our feet. Gravestones were spilt across the land in every direction.

K and I are crossing off a list of 100 things we want to do together and one of those things was to find the famous Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore’s grandfather’s grave in Kensal Green Cemetery.

So we headed back to my old neighbourhood, passed under the gates to the peaceful resting place. We let our eyes roll over surnames and poetry, watching squirrels scurrying among death, birds perching on gravestones, ivy crisscrossing the engravings, flowers swirling their heads toward the sun. Saw a copy of The Power of Miracles abandoned among the leaves. A symbol of lost hope.

And we found the grave we were looking for, modest as expected.