It reads: “BREAKING NEWS: Ngugi Wa Thiong’o is Dead at the age of 84. He will be remembered for thrilling books like ‘The River between.’ And many more. RIP Mentor.”
The 15 August 2022 post includes a photo of Ngũgĩ.
Born in 1938 in Limuru, Kenya, Ngũgĩ is considered a pioneering African novelist and post-colonial theorist. In addition to The River Between (1965), his novels include Weep Not, Child (1964), A Grain of Wheat (1967), Petals of Blood (1977) and Devil on the Cross (1980, also available in Kikuyu as Caitaani Mutharaba-ini).
Some of his work has attracted the ire of the Kenyan authorities. In 1977, following the premiere of his politically charged play Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want), he was sentenced to a year in solitary confinement in Kenya’s Kamiti Maximum prison.
Kenya’s second president Daniel arap Moi ruled from 1978 to 2002. When Ngũgĩ returned to Kenya in 2004, after 22 years of exile, he and his wife were brutalised in what was seen as a politically motivated attack.
If Ngũgĩ had died, the mainstream media, both Kenyan and international, would have widely covered such a significant news event. But there have been no trustworthy reports of his death in August 2022.
Africa Check contacted Ngũgĩ's assistant, Barbara Caldwell.
Via email, she said of the reports: “No, they are not true.”
Such unfounded claims could cause distress, not least to Ngũgĩ's family.
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