KidSpirit

Quest for God

Storytelling and NarrativePerSpectives

Translated from Gĩkũyũ by the author. Published by permission of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and the Watkins/Loomis Agency.

Macaria hated schools and books. They weighed heavily on his mind and heart. Thoughts of class sent shivers down his spine; talk of tests filled him with terror.

In class he did not do well. On exams, he always scored the lowest. The other children talked of his thick head. They nicknamed him Macaria the Last in the Queue.

His teachers did not know what to make of this: his mother was a teacher at another primary school, and his father sold stamps at the post office. Even Macaria questioned himself in similar terms: my father is a postmaster; my mother, a teacher; I am unable to learn; I fail tests; how then do I acquire knowledge? He repeated the words.

My father, a postmaster
My mother, a teacher
I am unable to learn
I am unable to pass tests
How then do I get knowledge?

They began to form a tune. The more he enjoyed the melody, the more he quickly forgot the import of the words.

Drawing and drooling was what he enjoyed most. Whenever he felt bored with the teacher, Macaria would stare ahead as if listening intently, but when he bent down to write, he found himself sketching the face of a girl. Her name was Ka-Mweri, Daughter of the Moon. She was one of the outstanding students, particularly in math and reading. Macaria thought her twice blessed; beauty of body and brawn. He often cast side glances at Daughter of the Moon, hoping that she would let her face shine on him, like her "mother" did on the world at night, and light away the darkness in his head. Oh! For the beautiful one to lighten his heart with laughter and light up his brains! Whenever in class he tried to sit next to her on the bench or at the adjoining desk, or stand near her in the playing grounds, Daughter of the Moon found ways of avoiding contact. Even when their paths crossed, she would not look at him. Macaria blamed it on his foolishness: it made her turn her face away.

What could he do so that knowledge would flow into his head without his having to bother with books and numbers? He had once heard his mother say that asking questions was not a crime, but he could not tell whether she meant it in a religious or legal sense, so he did not ask anybody for an answer. Eventually he decided it simply meant that asking questions does no harm. He resolved to seek wisdom from his classmates.

One boy told him the secret of his own success. He prepared for exams by walking about in the forest, books on his head, chanting:

Bless me with knowledge
Make a piece of it break from the book and
Land in my brain without any effort from me
Make me a great wizard of letters and numbers
Without my breaking a sweat.

Macaria decided to start his own well ahead of the exam period. He began with one book: wherever he went, school even, he would carry it on his head. But when about to call for a piece of knowledge to break and enter his head, he suddenly imagined it as a piece of rock crushing his brains, and, sensing the pain, he amended the wording of the chant.

Bless me with knowledge
Let it flow down from the book above
Into my head without any effort from me
Let letters and numbers fill my brain to the brim
Without my breaking a sweat.

He did that for a day, two days, and felt no difference. He added another book. Nothing happened. He went on adding a book a day, till the pile became quite a load, and, to hold it together, he tied the heap with a string around his chin. The other students broke into laughter. But what hurt most was the sight of Daughter of the Moon, doubled up with laughter. He cut out the business of carrying a load of books on his head.

Another boy let him into his own secret: he read books all right, but when it came to bedtime, he turned the book into a pillow, and laid his head on it all night. This way of learning was so effective that the boy always scored first or second. Macaria decided to adopt this method. But instead of wasting time reading, he simply went straight to bed, with the book for a pillow, and snored all night. Sometimes he even went to bed earlier than sleep demanded, so that he would have more time with his head soaking knowledge from books. But the exam results were the same: zero.

Why can’t God open his head and pour knowledge into it, all at once? Knowledge so extensive, that it would force Daughter of the Moon to turn to him for some of it! Or make her laugh, happy for him, instead of laughing at him? Dearest God, please make me know all you know, Macaria murmured in his heart.

He started searching for God at an early age. That’s because he had heard his pious parents hold talks with Him: thanking Him for giving them food, water, clothes, and healing their coughs and fever.

Oh Lord our God
We thank you for even
The tiniest of morsels
That you have given us
A piece here, a piece there
Become whole in the tummy.

After the prayer, they would break into hymn:

I want you to know, God
How much I love you
The food I eat
The water I drink
Even the clothes I wear,
They all come from you.

The melody was so captivating it continued playing in the silence of the heart.

Macaria loved it when his parents knelt by his bed, sang the hymn, and asked God to bless his sleep. He would sink into sound slumber most times, even entering beautiful dreams. In one of them, he found himself in a forest of candies and cakes hanging low from branches; he plucked them straight into his mouth; in another, Daughter of the Moon visited him, her teeth sending out rays of light brighter than sunshine, but softer than moon and star light at night. She begged him for forgiveness for not talking to him in school or sitting next him to in the classroom, and above all, for having laughed at him for the pile of books on his head. They went through the wall and entered a field of flowers of different colors, red, blue, white, brown, and yellow. They spent the night there chasing bees and butterflies. When he woke up, Daughter of the Moon had gone, but the memory of their time together and their play with bees and butterflies over beautiful colors remained vivid. He tried to draw the picture but since he used a pencil only, the colors were lost. He stopped trying to capture the scene on paper, and let it play in his mind as a pure image. This sustained him through the day.

But when later their paths crossed, his heart sank, because she did not show by look or any gesture that they had spent a whole night together in a dream field of flowers, chasing those bees and butterflies.

There were times when God did not do as his parents had asked Him, and instead of beautiful flowers and sunny smiles, He sent scary storms, thunder and lightning that lit up creatures with hundreds of limbs and mouths:

If you can count our mouths
We can let you retreat to the ceiling
Or go back to your dream about us
Count quickly and summon sleep
Before drops of danger fall on you or
We wake you up with nightmares.

But when he tried to count, he could not make it beyond one, and the mouths bared their teeth even more ferociously, which made him scream. He would wake up, his heart beating, sweat oozing from his brow, some of it dripping to the floor. When he saw that he was not in danger, he realized that those were just nightmares, but he was very relieved when he finally woke up and found them gone. Peace would come back to his heart, an uneasy peace.

On Sundays, the whole village went to church to hear all about the recent instructions from God through the mouth of His Priest. The secrets that God imparted to this messenger always amazed Macaria: the Priest talked as if he and God had spent the night engrossed in serious conversation. Following his nasty experience at night, Macaria went to church to ask the Priest what caused nightmares. He did not know how to begin, and was unable to voice his fears. But this did not stop him from going over the nightmares in his head. His parents told him that nightmares came from Satan; dreams, from God.

Macaria would have liked to hear God talk to him the way he talked to the priest and even his parents, and he sought their advice on how, but he did not let them know that he wanted to ask God to end his nightmares and instead always send him sweet dreams of cakes and candies hanging low from branches, and, most important, end the nightmares of learning by doing his homework for him, or, at least, reveal all knowledge to him.

The parents told him that even children could talk with God. He would hear their prayer; even the Priest says so, for didn’t God say something about letting the little ones come to him? Macaria had noted that his parents and even the priest were not the most generous in granting children their wishes. He recalled how once he asked his parents to let him sleep the whole day, and they would not hear of it. Another time, he begged them to let him opt out of school, and they growled at him.

There was that other time when he asked the priest to baptize as him as Muslim. That was not a religion, the Priest told him. What about into a Roman catholic? That too was not true religion. What about baptizing him into all religions at once – Jewish, Indian, every religion on earth – but the Priest told him that all those faiths worshipped a false God. How did the false and the true differ? How did one get to know with certainty the true God? Prayers, the Priest said, adding, yes, and ask Him to open the eyes and ears of your heart. Does the heart also possess ears and eyes, and how did these differ from those of the body? Stop asking questions without legs or arms. What, do questions also possess limbs? Child, ask God to forgive you, you ask too many questions, and the Priest went away. If his parents and the Priest had not shown much generosity in meeting his needs, how could God, being the more powerful, stoop to hear the cries of children for help?

Whenever he closed his eyes, or even when alone, Macaria felt too shy to ask for anything. Because God knew what Macaria wanted or even what he would want, he thought it better to wait for the voice of God to speak to him: Macaria, I have now opened your eyes and ears of the heart. But he heard no voice from above or anywhere. Maybe God was equally shy when it came to children. Or, wait, maybe God did not speak through the mouth, he just listened with ears. How many ears did God possess, seeing that he was able to hear all the words and prayers of all people all the time? Or maybe God did not have a mouth. Only ears. For whereas Macaria could hear his parents and the people in church talk to God and ask him for things, special favors even, he never actually heard the Almighty talk back to them. It was a revelation. Macaria must initiate the conversation with God.

His chance came one season, and all because of a Rabbit, his pet. Macaria would have liked to keep a dog for a pet, there were so many things that one could do with a puppy – play, run, hunt antelopes, everything – but his parents, despite their profession of love, hated dog shit. Stepping on dog shit revolts me, his father had said. And it stinks, his mother added. Stinks? Macaria wondered, but human shit also stinks. Even his own! No, Dog shit stinks worse than any other, they asserted. Also it made one squeamish. But they had no problems with cow shit, goat’s beads of shit, cat’s shit, or Rabbit’s. And that was how Macaria came to keep a Rabbit for a pet.

A little while with it, and Macaria began to like his Rabbit. He enjoyed feeding it with sweet potato vines, or other greens, and the Rabbit, its almond eyes wide open, would look up at him gratefully. Sometimes it fed from his hands; and he felt a tickling sensation. The trust made them close. When he heard the song, Mary had a little lamb, he thought of himself and his pet. Why would they not sing, Caria had a Rabbit?

Caria had a little Rab
Little Raby Little Rab
Caria had a Little Rab
And he loved it so

And then the Rabbit became ill. What to do? He ran to his parents. He asked them to call a doctor.

“Macaria, sometimes you do present us with a few challenges!” his mother said. “You are asking us to go look for a doctor of Rabbits? In this region, the only veterinarian we have is for cows and goats, not animals.”

He went away, murmuring dissent: cows and goats are also animals. He felt desperate. He sought other boys. One of them told him not to worry. Removing illness from the body was quite easy. All one needed was a symbolic gesture of throwing the illness across a river. He gave him a mantra to accompany the gesture. Unfortunately, there was no valley with a river near his place. There has to be a way around this, Macaria told himself, determined. Near the Rabbit’s house, he dug up a small shallow valley, poured water into it, and then took a bit of the Rabbit’s hair, folded it in his hand, and threw it across the make-believe valley, muttering the mantra:

Animals across the valley
Receive this illness and keep it
Keep it with you, like it or not
Take it to make my pet healthy.

But the illness did not leave the Rabbit.

Another boy told him that in the past chasing diseases across valleys was done differently. Anything that stood for the illness was stuffed into a live goat, its ears and eyes and mouth sealed, and then it was let loose across the other side. They should do the same with a young goat.

The thought of the pain the goat would endure made Macaria feel tears at the edges of his eyes. No. No, he said. He thought about what he had done, the attempts to pass illness to other animals across the valley. He felt ashamed. Why would he pass the Rabbit’s illness on to others? Heal his Rabbit by making others ill? Healing of self built on infection of others? When will illnesses ever end, if it was a matter of passing them on and not removing them?

Yet another boy told him to seek help from healers. They would give him a magic string with which he would tie the leg of the rabbit to that of a bird. The illness would enter the bird, the bird would fly in the air, and the air would cleanse. Macaria thought it a brilliant idea, for it would involve cleansing and not passing on the illness. So he went to his parents. What? A witchdoctor? They growled at him and warned him against the servants of Satan.

Who was Satan? Did he also possess powers? Why would healers serve him? Did Satan have a mouth? Ears? Did he talk to people the way God did? But because he respected his parents, Macaria decided to leave devil worshippers alone and asked his parents to pray for his pet. They sniggered, but murmured something. Their faces did not look as earnest as when they knelt by his bedside or said grace at dinner.

A thought crossed his mind. It was not necessary that he go to a healer. He himself could tie the leg of the rabbit to that of a bird. The effect would be the same. The bird would fly into the air. The air would cleanse, or the sun could burn up the illness. He tried to catch a bird, without success. He tried a trap. Nothing. He made a sling. Failed. What about a hen? It is the same family of birds. It had wings like birds. But because he did not want his parents to see him chasing hens across the yard, he went to one that lay by itself. It laid an egg, and ran away, and Macaria let it alone.

That’s when he decided to do it himself, seek help from God directly. So he went to the hutch where he kept the pet, knelt, and asked that God intervene and heal his pet. He did not get a response but this did not deter him, because now, he knew that God was all about the Ear and not the Mouth. And then he remembered that in Church the priest gave his followers wine, with the words, drink this. So he got plenty of water and gave it to the pet, murmuring, please, my friend, I beg you, please drink this. And then the miracle of miracles. The following day, the Rabbit was prancing about the yard.

He welled up with joy. His prayers had been answered, not with sound, not with words, but with deeds. His Rabbit friend was well. Macaria knelt again, but instead of closing his eyes as they did in church, he opened his wide and looked up to Heaven.

Thank you God and please keep well in Heaven:
Should you ever want me to do anything for you on Earth,
Don’t be shy, just tell me and
I will do for you what you have done for me.

Again, he remembered that God did not talk, so he quickly amended the last line: or let me know your wishes, with deeds. And from that day, Macaria stopped waiting to hear the voice: deeds were the real voice of God.

The deed for which he now yearned was for God to pour knowledge into him, so that learning would cease to be such a chore, and he would pass exams with ease. God knew whatever in the past eventually came to pass long before it came to pass. He knows those that will come to be tomorrow long before the doer has done them. So if He so wished, God could let him know everything that the teacher would teach them even before the teacher had taught them, or let him know the questions and their answers long before the teacher had formulated them. Sometimes Macaria would picture himself, casually walking to the teacher: Sir, I know what you want to teach us, and all the other lessons you will teach us tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and all the weeks that follow, the whole year. Or better still, to be able to answer questions even before the teacher asked them.

One night he had a beautiful dream; the Rabbit had become a dog that pooped odorless shit. They played among the flowers, chasing other Rabbits, which, mid-air somehow, turned into puppies. He felt joy, knowing that now his parents would certainly let him keep the dog. Early in the morning, he ran to the hutch. His companion for many months was asleep, without breathing or stirring in any way. No matter what he did – give him water, feed him – the Rabbit would not wake up.

He knelt down and, as before, prayed that his pet wake up and drink water and eat vines. He even promised that he would never again dream of the rabbit as a dog, but it never woke up again. He wanted it given a proper Christian burial, but this time his parents put their foot down. A Rabbit was not human. Not human, Macaria asked himself, but it had life, like humans? It ate food, drank water, and breathed air, just like any human? And oh yes, ran about, like humans? They told him that to bury an animal with Christian ritual was making a mockery of God, who created Man in his image.

Macaria went over many things in his mind. Why do animals and humans die? What is death, anyway? He turned to his parents, and they said, God does not kill, Satan does. God is life; Satan is Death. But God was the Almighty, creator of Heaven and earth? Why did he not stop Satan from harming pets, even? They told him death had something to do with what they called original sin. He was not satisfied with the answers they gave him, because what original sin would Rabbit the Pet have committed?

So many questions without satisfactory answers. Amidst the turmoil within, the image and the voice of the boy who once advised him to retreat into the forest to commune with books without having to read them, visited him. Why now amidst his woes? It reminded him of stories of prophets going out in the desert where they sojourned with God. Yes, even Moses was all alone when God gave him the Ten Commandments. John the Baptist too. Jesus even. Maybe that was what the boy had been trying to convey. Ah, yes, that was it, must be it. A period in the wilderness. Wander in a forest all alone for forty days, feeding on honey and wild berries, waiting for a revelation.

Macaria had come to believe that God could indeed do things, miracles even, because, although He later allowed it to die, God had once healed the rabbit. Macaria was grateful for the extra days he spent with his pet. But what was he to make of this call of the wilderness, alone? He thought about it. In the wilderness, alone, Macaria could talk with God, real honest talk, ask Him many questions, pray for many desires. Even though God was all ears not Mouth. Well, maybe, His Ear was also His Mouth. Another revelation. God’s Ears were also His Mouth. His Eyes and His nose, too. God could turn any organ into a Mouth.

He did not want to venture deep into the forest alone; he was only ten. But he could do it bit by bit, a little of the wilderness at a time. But did he even have to go to a big wilderness? The gardens and trees around him could do for the wilderness, as long as it meant his being away from the home compound. And that was what he set out to do. Sometimes he would spend a whole day in the fields and his parents were proud to see his dedication to labor. Except that when they went to the fields, they did not find much evidence of hard work.

Actually, Macaria spent his time in the fields observing and comparing the teeming life of plants, trees, flowers, insects, worms. He wanted to know their nature, colors, shapes, their motions, and their growth. Sometimes he would try to count all the worms in the field, to find out their number, but he would tire before he counted much. At other times, he would arrange them into twos, threes, or fours, imagining them soldiers on the march. Or he would arrange them into two opposing camps. In order to know the number of soldiers left or lost on either camp, he would count, add, subtract, or simply arrange them in sets of threes or fours. He tried to do the same with trees: he wanted to count all the trees and plants and flowers in the field. Counting butterflies was the most difficult task. They hopped from flower to flower, crisscrossing, and often he could not tell what he had already counted. In order to remember the counts, he was often forced to jot down the numbers. His drawing skills came in useful.

At home, he would show his parents his sketches of insects, worms or plants, and ask questions about them. Even his own parents – a schoolteacher and a postmaster – did not know everything. The same in school: he would pester teachers with questions about the varieties of plant, animal, and insect life. Sometimes the teachers would tell him to wait, until “we come to the relevant lessons.” Some were very blunt. Get your numbers and maths right, first.

Books might be less rude, Macaria thought. Books contain a lot of information. Even teachers consulted books. So books knew more than the teachers. In church, the priest read from a book, and then talked about what he had read. God, too. It was prophesied that on Judgment Day, at the end of the world, he would read from the book. If Macaria could read the same book that the teacher was reading, then he would access the same information. From then on, he started putting more effort into school, particularly when it came to writing, reading, and doing things with numbers. When asked to read, he was among the first to raise his hand. His diligence began to bear fruit.

And that is how he came to know that maths is a language, which, instead of talking through the alphabet, did so through numbers. He sung in his head.

There are two languages
That of numbers
That of the alphabet
Both tell a story
Languages are only two
One numbers
The other letters
Both tell a story.

The only books that confused him were those that talked about Europe, its rivers mostly. But he found a way of overcoming the confusion and turning it into clarity. He read the books and then went to the fields to compare what he had read and what he could see with his eyes and touch with his hands. The differences also taught him something. But still he asked questions; it was as if the books made him even more thirsty for information about things around him, and how they connected with others near and far. He would pose questions to himself but he would also seek to know from his teachers and even fellow students. But even they did not know everything, especially the names of plants, trees, insects, and worms. He made another discovery: there was no teacher or even book that carried all knowledge. Knowledge was a matter of collecting a piece here, a piece there, and when they met in the head, they mixed and bred and added to knowledge, which also made him thirst to read more, and ask more.

He recalled the words in the prayers his parents recited.

Oh Lord our God
We thank you for even
The tiniest of morsels
That you have given us
A piece here, a piece there
Become whole in the tummy.

A bit here, a bit there, become whole in the tummy? He changed the saying: a bit from here, a bit from there, become whole in the head.

He began to note a change of attitudes from fellow students. Now and then one or more would come to him, engage him in conversation, and then ask a question. Some would even seek his help with a math problem. Others about the meaning of this or that word. Macaria liked it best when he and other children argued and exchanged opinions.

One day, while lying on his back in the school grounds, trying to see if he could spot stars in daytime, a shadow fell on him. He turned round, and his heart skipped a beat. It was Daughter of the Moon. She, who before hardly ever acknowledged his presence, now stood there, and asked if he, like she, was finding it difficult to solve a math problem. He said, yes, and they decided to try and work it out together. Joy welled up in him, as he and she lay side by side on the grass, bent over a math book. When finally they solved the problem, they high fived each other. This only added to his desire to know more, so that he would have more to share with Daughter of the Moon. The more he read, the more he realized how much he still did not know, but this spurred him on to know more.

That was when Macaria began to read the Bible. He started by counting all the books in it, 66 in all. He resolved to read them all, starting with Genesis, the first of the 39 in the Old Testament. The opening pages stunned him: he read how God created heaven and earth, and then made the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven… And the great whales, and every winged fowl after his kind, God commanding them to be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth… And then, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so… And God saw that it was good… And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: yes, he thought, man was made last.

It was a great revelation. He ran to his parents, and blurted out: the same creator created rabbits and humans. And God created Rabbit before Man. So every human should show respect to the life that was created before him. So even the death of a Rabbit deserves honor and respect, as well as that of trees, and birds, and fishes of the sea.

His life took a turn. He began to care for and find joy in all creation: earth, water, air, sun, moon and stars, plants, worms, trees. Whatever he looked at, he saw God’s creations. Time and again, he would walk by a river or a lake and, when he saw people throwing dirt and garbage into it, he would make a point of reminding them that they were throwing dirt into the waters of God. Or when he saw big lorries or factories emitting smoke, he would get upset: can’t they see that all humans, earth, air, and sun are creations of the same creator?

Quite often, he would try to talk to other children, urging them not to throw stones at dogs. He started bringing stray cats and dogs home, and if they had wounds, he would try to bind them. His parents thought and said that their son had lost his head. The Priest agreed. And they would have taken him to hospital, except that he was doing very well in school.

Macaria came to think of God as the universal sharer, for he was in everything. And from then on, Macaria saw in the plants, worms, animals, birds, sun, moon and stars, even in the inanimate rocks, the Glory of God.

Once, in class, the teacher asked them to each sing a song. Some sang: Landani is mbana. Others: bah bah brakship, hevuyuwonauru. Macaria wondered: what was this Randa mbaana? Or brakship? When it came to his turn, he simply heard a familiar melody sing inside him. He inserted his own words:

Good God I praise you
Your Glory is in all creation
Earth, water, air, and the sun above
All those show your Glory
Even the flowers…

And suddenly he heard the voice of Daughter of the Moon join in:

Show His GloryShow His Glory

And then their voices came together in the chorus:

Good God, universal sharer
Our hearts sing with joy
For revealing your Glory.

The others joined in the singing; every time he pointed at something, they sang: His Glory.

Their voices sang the chorus together, as if they had always done so.

And then they stood up. Daughter of the Moon placed her hands on Macaria’s shoulders, then another student his hands on her shoulders, and so on, until they formed a long line. They moved round the classroom, singing, swaying in rhythm, and then they went out, still in line, singing in praise of everything they encountered: plants, butterflies, bees, rocks, birds. The other children streamed out of their classes and joined in the singing queue. Teachers too. They went round the school playing grounds, singing Glory to all creations.

Finally they streamed onto the road, and wherever they passed, schools, markets, shopping centers, people dropped whatever they were doing and joined the singing queue. They passed by the primary school where his mother taught, and the children left their classes and joined in the singing. His mother followed behind, completely unable to know what to do. At the post office, all the workers left their positions and joined in the train, which moved on.

At the post office, his mother and father put their heads together, and then, they hurried to see the Priest. Help our son, they cried out to him. All the schools and other people have become possessed by evil demons. Please cast away the demons before they take over the whole country. The Priest looked on, with eyes that emitted light. Instead of answering them directly, he broke into a hymn:

I will fly and leave this earth
I will float in the sky from where
I will behold God do his wonders on earth.
Never seen before.

And then he talked to them: all this wonder is the product of our prayers. What do I preach to you every Sunday? God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. This is a miracle. Be happy and rejoice and sing. Your Macaria, who used to score the lowest in class, is now a leader in spreading the Glory of God.

And before he had finished talking, they saw the singing queue snake towards the church grounds, singing Glory to the maker.

From that day, the song about the wonders of God became another means of learning: it was sung everywhere. And this is the origin of the legend still told today, about Macaria, in the wilderness alone, and how an angel of the Lord appeared to him, and let him see the halo of God, and that from that day onwards Macaria’s own eyes and face shown a light that cleared darkness at night.

With all that, what Macaria remembers most is the gentle warmth of the hands of Daughter of the Moon on his shoulders.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is a novelist, essayist, playwright, journalist, editor, academic, and social activist. Currently Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine, he was born in Kenya in 1938. He was educated at schools in Kenya and colleges in Uganda and Britain and has taught at many universities, including Yale and New York University. A UCI Medalist, Ngũgĩ is recipient of twelve honorary doctorates from Universities in Africa, Europe, America, and New Zealand. He is also an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His books include Wizard of the Crow, Petals of Blood, and A Grain of Wheat (novels); Decolonizing the Mind; Something Torn and New (Essays); Dreams in a Time of war; In the House of the Interpreter and Birth of a Dream weaver and Wrestling with the Devil (Memoirs). His fable, The Upright Revolution, an English translation of the Gĩkũyũ, Ituĩka rĩa Mũrũngarũ, and originally issued by Jalada magazine, has been translated into 68 languages, making it one of the most translated stories in history. For more on Ngũgĩ and his works, please visit his website: www.ngugiwathiongo.com