Many people do not know that Jesus did not speak Latin or English or Hebrew; he spoke Aramaic. But nobody knows that language. So we're talking about the Bible itself being a translation of a translation of a translation. And, in reality, it has affected people's lives in history.

— Ngugi wa Thiong'o

The most controversy Ngugi wa Thiong'o quotes that will inspire your inner self

I was wondering why I was put in prison for working in an African language when I had not been put in prison for working in English. So really, in prison I started thinking more seriously about the relation between language and power.


Christianity and Western civilization-what countless crimes have been committed in thy name!


If poverty was to be sold three cents today, i can't buy it.


Life, struggle, even amidst pain and blood and poverty, seemed beautiful.


I'm more trying to connect; I'm more listening to people. Whatever I get is very meaningful to me.


In terms of language, English is very dominant vis-Ã-vis African language.

That in itself is a power relationship - between languages and communities - because the English language is a determinant of the ladder to achievement.


We think of politics in terms of power and who has the power.

Politics is the end to which that power is put.


Another phenomenon developing in Kenya is ethnic cleansing - and that's the thing that has made me very sad. Because some people will use the cover of the problems of rigged elections to do things that are unacceptable like ethnic cleansing and displacement of people. It's completely unacceptable.


The Bible affects everybody's life who is a Christian, from the middle class in Europe to the peasant in Africa and Asia. The Bible has affected their lives, but in translation, since they do not read the Bible in the original Greek or Hebrew.


I'm writing for those people in Kenya, but in Irvine and in New York.


Through the act of translation we break out of linguistic confinement and reach many other communities.


Of course it's very, very important for me to feel Kenya, to feel, every day, this is where images come from. So to be taken away from that by political pressure or other means - one is taken away from the area, which is the basis of inspiration - is difficult.


About Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Quotes 26 sayings
Profession Writer
Birthday January 5, 1938

For me, being in prison writing in an African language was a way of saying: "Even if you put me in prison, I will keep on writing in the language which made you put me in prison."


I think a repressive regime always fears people who are awakened - particularly ordinary people. If they are awakened, I think governments all over the world feel uncomfortable about that; they want to be in control. They want to be the ones telling people: "This is what we have done in history" but when people begin to say, "No this is what we have done in history" it's a different thing.


The Pan-Africanism that envisaged the ideal of wholeness was gradually cut down to the size of a continent, then a nation, a region, an ethnos, a clan, and even a village in some instances But Pan-Africanism has not outlived its mission. Seen as an economic, political, cultural, and psychological re-membering vision, it should continue to guide remembering practices


What is translated from English and into English - and in what quantities - is a question of power.


We can appreciate each other's languages.

And the question of being uncomfortable about our languages would go away.


If a novel is written in a certain language with certain characters from a particular community and the story is very good or illuminating, then that work is translated into the language of another community - then they begin to see through their language that the problems described there are the same as the problems they are having. They can identify with characters from another language group.


Any writer likes to be near the area which is the location of his work.


It was a revelation for me, in a practical sense, that you could write in an African language and still reach an audience beyond that language through the art of translation.


You get another person who operates only in an African language and there are many persons who operate only in African languages; he or she is excluded from all the goodies that come with English. And even in terms of justice, law codes, the legal system. A person who does not know English in Africa is excluded from that system because he can only operate through acts of translation.


What's good about writing is that when you write novels or fiction, people can see that the problems in one region are similar to problems in another region.


People went to war as a result of it and even today, every Sunday, the Bible in translation is being read to thousands and thousands in Africa. It is an integral part of their functioning and the way they look at the world.


A person who acquires English has access to all the things that that language makes possible.


There is no way we can survive as a nation in the world without finding unity.