Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s son discloses family struggles, accuses father of physically abusing his mum

Renowned Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s son, Mukoma wa Thiongo, has revealed that his father used to physically harm his first wife, Nyambura.

Mukoma wa Thiongo, a poet, author, and professor, disclosed this information on the social media platform X on Tuesday, March 12.

In a post, the 53-year-old shared a newspaper article about his mother, stating, “My father @NgugiWaThiongo physically abused my late mother; he would beat her up.”

“Some of my earliest memories are of me going to visit her at my grandmother’s, where she would seek refuge. But with that said it is the silencing of who she was that gets me.  Ok- I have said it.”


My father physically abused my late mother ? Author Mukoma Wa Thiongo, 53, calls out his famous father, Ngugi Wa Thiongo


This isn’t the first time Mukoma has complained about his mother’s story being erased.

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Back in 2022, he wrote on Twitter: “It hurts to see my late mother, Nyambura (my daughter is named after her) being systemically erased from the @NgugiWaThiongo_ story. We literally (of course) and figuratively would not be here if it was not for her keeping us glued together through the political persecutions.”


My father physically abused my late mother ? Author Mukoma Wa Thiongo, 53, calls out his famous father, Ngugi Wa Thiongo


Ngugi, who is renowned as Kenya’s most famous writer, married Nyambura in 1987. The two went on to have six children: Thiong’o, Kimunya, Nduchu, Mukoma, Wanjiku and Njoki.


Apart from Kimunya, an economics graduate from the University of Nairobi, the rest of their children attended US universities.


Ngugi’s first marriage collapsed due to detentions and exiles orchestrated by both Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi.


Nyambura died in 1995 and Thiong’o couldn’t attend her funeral as he was in exile in the United States.


He then married Njeri, who already had a daughter from a previous relationship with an African-American partner. The couple went on to have two children before separating last year.


Ngugi, 86, is currently suffering from kidney failure and is living alone under the care of medical personnel at his house in California, US. He undergoes kidney dialysis three times a week and he recently had surgery.


Njeri is the director of Human Resource Faculty and Staff Conflict Resolution Services at the University of California, Irvine, where Ngugi is a Distinguished Professor at the Comparative Literature School of Humanities.

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