Language as a Liberation Aesthetic: Ngũgĩ’s Use of Gĩkũyũ in Mũrogi wa Kagogo [Wizard of the Crow] and Other Works

Maina wa Mũtonya


This paper examined the aesthetics and politics of writing African literature in local vernaculars as opposed to writing in what proponents of this discourse have termed as colonial languages, like English and French, amongst others. The focus of this article is on the writings of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, the most vocal critic of ‘imperial languages’, and also an ardent advocate for African languages as well as a practitioner of his vernacular language, where most of his published fictional works are in his native Gĩkũyũ language of Kenya. This paper then critically examines Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s application of the Gĩkũyũ language in his novel Mũrogi wa Kagogo (2006), translated as Wizard of the Crow, and his other works in the language. This paper inevitably engages with the writer’s stance on the use of vernaculars in increasingly globalizing cultures.


Article received: December 18, 2019; Article accepted: January 31, 2020; Published online: April 15, 2020; Original scholarly article

How to cite the article: wa Mũtonya, Maina. "Language as a Liberation Aesthetic: Ngũgĩ’s Use of Gĩkũyũ in Mũrogi wa Kagogo [Wizard of the Crow] and Other Works." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 21 (2020): 45-58. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i21.358


Gĩkũyũ language; decolonising; exile; cultural identity; liberation aesthetics.

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