Opposition leader Raila Odinga has called on the government to appreciate and protect Kenyan academicians, many of whom have fled the country for various reasons.
He said the government should adopt a system where academic heroes are encouraged to contribute to national development.
Raila raised concerns on the manner in which the country treats its academic giants, many of who were exiled by post-independent governments, when renowned author Ngugi wa Thiong’o paid him a courtesy call at his Capitol Hill office in Nairobi yesterday.
Ngugi, a lecturer at the University of California, Irvine, is in the country for two weeks to mark the 50th anniversary of his first prize-winning novel Weep Not, Child.
Regarded as the father of literature in Kenya, Ngugi will also launch some of his recent works, including In the House of the Interpreter and a memoir on his days at the Alliance High School.
“It is high time we started appreciating our bright minds and the works of other people and not let the outside world take that responsibility from us,” said Raila.
The former premier told Ngugi, who fled the country after detention by the Jomo Kenyatta regime, the democratic space in Kenya was expanding exponentially, attributing the feat to sacrifice of people like the author whose acts put the government in check.
Ngugi is accompanied by five of his children who are also writers. He lauded the democratic space in the country compared to during the Kanu administration when he was forced to seek asylum after being detained. Ngugi will give lectures at the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University and Alliance High School during the visit.