Ngugi's nationalist shift
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Critics of Kenya's famous author Ngugi wa Thiong'o have long been fascinated with his adoption of Fanonist Marxism in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This shift has typically been described as a radical and abrupt change in Ngugi's epistemological beliefs, resulting in an aesthetic and ideological departure from his three previous novels. This essay attempts to explain this shift by combining biographical information with a close reading of Ngugi's early novels for cultural/nationalist themes. When viewed through a nationalist context, Ngugi's adoption of Marxism represents a discernible and logical evolution in his perception of Kenya's national character. Rather than a break with the past, Ngugi's shift can be best understood as an attempt to solve the troubling problems he observed through his first three novels. While Ngugi certainly jettisoned a great deal of his faith in Western culture and education as vehicles for a modern Kenya, his adoption of Mau Mau as a national symbol reflects not so much a departure with his previous ambivalence towards the movement as an attempt to reposition the nature of Kenyan nationalism away from its traditional ethnic and cultural underpinnings.