Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 131


Hybridizing Gikuyu in the face of globalization: The case of Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s novel Murogi wa Kagogo

Mugambi C. Ngumo
  • Mugambi C. Ngumo
  • Department of Humanities, School of Education and Social Sciences, University of Embu, Embu, Kenya.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 25 July 2020
  •  Published: 31 January 2021


African literature in European languages entrenches the marginalization of large communities who cannot use European languages. Therefore, the revolutionary move by the Kenyan writer, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, to write in Gikuyu is a bold step towards empowering marginalized groups in Africa. In his literary essays, Ngugi argues that in the era of globalization African languages should enrich themselves by entering into dialogue with other languages of the world. A reading of Ngugi’s novel, Murogi wa Kagogo, using insights from sociolinguistics, reveals that Ngugi achieves this through hybridizing Gikuyu with English, Kiswahili, Sheng and even Latin. The article, specifically, attempts to show how Ngugi has hybridized Gikuyu using strategies like codeswitching, borrowing and diglossia. Drawing on Murogi wa Kagogo, this article argues that literature in African languages must embrace the strategies of hybridity in order to make African languages relevant to new global realities. The article further seeks to problematize the tendency by postcolonial theorists to almost wholly exclude African literature written in indigenous languages from the orbit of their critiques. This article is also an attempt to add to the few studies that exploit sociolinguistic approaches to examine literary texts.


Key words: Murogi wa Kagogo, hybridity, sociolinguistics, postcolonial theory.