Q: Which literature has made a lasting impression on you?
MIGUNA: In my formative years, when I was still groping for ideological clarity and philosophical balance and rootedness (before I metÂ Marx, Lenin, Che Guevara, Amilcar Cabral, Thomas SankaraÂ and others), I read and re-read the following books:Â John Steinbeckâ€™sÂ The Grapes of Wrath;Bhabani Bhattacharyaâ€™sÂ So Many Hungers;Â John Rugandaâ€™sÂ The Floods;Â Frantz Fanonâ€™sÂ The Wretched of the Earth andÂ Black Skin, White Masks;Â Paulo Freireâ€™sÂ The Pedagogy of the Oppressed;Â Alex Haleyâ€™sÂ The Autobiography of Malcolm X;Â George Orwellâ€™sÂ Animal FarmÂ andÂ 1984;Â Saul Alinskyâ€™sÂ Rules for Radicals;William Styronâ€™sÂ The Confessions of Nat Turner;Â Sembene Ousmaneâ€™sÂ Godâ€™s Bits of Wood;Â Frederick Douglassâ€™Â My Bondage and My Freedom;Â John Howard Griffinâ€™sÂ Black Like Me;Â Eldridge Cleaverâ€™sÂ Soul on Ice;Â George Jacksonâ€™sÂ Soledad BrotherÂ andÂ Blood in My Eye;Â Ngugi wa Thiongâ€™oâ€™sÂ I Will Marry When I Want, Matigari; Barrel of a PenÂ andÂ Decolonizing the Mind;Â Walter Rodneyâ€™sÂ How Europe Underdeveloped Africa;Â D.M. Zwelonkeâ€™sÂ Robben Island;Â Assata Shakurâ€™sÂ Assata: An Autobiography;Â Cheche Kenyaâ€™sÂ InDependent Kenya;Â James Baldwinâ€™sÂ The Fire Next Time, Nobody Knows My NameÂ andNotes of a Native Son;Â Rupert Lewisâ€™Â Marcus Garvey; andÂ Malcolm Xâ€™sÂ By Any Means Necessary.
When I joined the University of Nairobi in September 1986, I foundÂ Frantz Fanonâ€™sÂ The Wretched of the Earth, especially a chapter called, â€œThe Pitfalls of National Consciousness,â€ andÂ Paulo Freire’sÂ Pedagogy of the Oppressed, as compulsory reading to all first year students in humanities and social sciences. It did not matter what your majors were.I believe that was very instrumental in creating socio-political consciousness and rootedness in young students. Regrettably and tragically, they no longer do that at our local universities.
Closer to home, I have always been fascinated byÂ Mwalimu D.O Misianiâ€™s music, poetry and socio-political commentaries.
If there is one person who helped me become socially and politically conscious, it must have been Mwalimu D.O Misianiâ€™s music, most of which werevery incisive andpractical commentaries on social ills, the struggle against injustice and the uncanny ability to speak Truth to power.
During the repressive Kanu regime, Mwalimu D.O. Misiani was like a one man army against totalitarianism. He had metaphors and parables for all our oppressors.
Along the way, I also discovered the marvelousÂ Ayi Kwei Armah, M.G. Vassanji, Ben OkriÂ andÂ Rohinton Mistry.
Q: What are you reading now?
A:Â Jeffrey Toobinâ€™sÂ The Nine:Inside the Secret World of the Supreme CourtÂ andÂ Lee Kuan Yewâ€™sÂ From Third World To First.
Adapted from an interview by the man with same name twice!