Decolonial International Symposium


This October, we brought a delegation of national and international scholars, activists and artivists headed up by the celebrated intellectual Professor Ngûgî wa Thiong’o.

A poster of Ngugi wa Thiongo

On behalf of us at RJN, our fellow organisers, our delegates, guests, and volunteers, I want to express our sincere thanks for joining us in this remarkable journey and share heartfelt celebrations and hope for the reverberating impacts of the 2023 International Decolonisation Symposium.

As part of RJN’s focus on connecting local and global visions, this year’s Symposium features an International Delegation of scholar-activists, hailing primarily from Kenya and the country’s legacy of anticolonial and decolonial struggle.

This year’s Symposium is of great significance, as our special guest will be the distinguished and legendary writer, scholar, and activist Professor Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o – one of the most renowned literary figures of our time. Professor Ngûgî’s works have not only inspired generations of writers and readers but have also created a ripple effect in societies across the world, contributing to social justice movements and critical thinking.

This UK Black History Month, discover his impactful journey in decolonising education through a series of events nationwide, including some of our most renowned thinkers and writers, such as  Gary Yonge and Ester Stanford-Xosei.

We look forward to welcoming all of you to this exciting and transformative series of conversations and activities.

Professor Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is a highly distinguished Kenyan writer and scholar of literature. He is famously known for his works that have redefined African literature and inspired struggles for independence and social justice across the continent. This legacy has seen him champion, advocate for, and teach literature in African languages for many decades.

A celebrated novelist, playwright, essayist and academic, Professor Ngũgĩ has been a key figure in shaping the direction of African literature. Born in 1938 in Limuru, Kenya, Ngugi’s writing reflects his deep understanding of his country’s rich cultural heritage and history and his keen insights into the struggles of ordinary people.

 With a career spanning over five decades, Ngugi has authored numerous award-winning books, including “Weep Not, Child,” “Petals of Blood,” and “Wizard of the Crow,” among many others. His works have been widely translated into several languages, making them accessible to readers worldwide. Ngugi’s contributions to African literature and cultural criticism have been recognised with numerous accolades, including the prestigious Christopher Award, The Lotus Prize for Literature and the Nonino International Prize for Literature.

 He is also a celebrated academic, having held prestigious teaching positions at African universities, in the United States and Europe. Professor Ngũgĩ  continues to be an inspiration to writers, scholars and readers across the globe.

Main Guest Speaker - Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo

"We must be careful with the vocabulary that defines us ... to not internalise the negativity." "Let us call people by what they call themselves." “...Black intellectual tradition has given so much to the rest of the world ...but this is often invisible".

Want to find out more about Professor Ngũgĩ or what has been announced so far for the Symposium?
Read the Press Release now!

Our Speakers

We’re excited to introduce our distinguished guest speakers at the upcoming international symposium. These dynamic voices are experts in their fields, bringing extensive knowledge and experience to enlighten and inspire our audience. We’re honored and confident that their contributions will create an unforgettable experience.

A profile picture of ESTHER STANFORD-XOSEI

Esther Stanford-Xosei

Esther is a community advocate who specializes in stopping genocide, ecocide, and dispossession of land through reparatory and environmental justice. She works with various organizations to develop policy and engage in liberation struggles. Her ultimate goal is a world where colonial and neo-colonial pasts are reconciled through the restoration of Indigenous Sovereignty resulting in global justice and the establishment of a Pan-Afrikan Union of Communities, Maatubuntuman.

A profile photo Christine Kahigi

Christine Muthoni Kahigi

Christine Muthoni Kahigi is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Nairobi specializing in the Sociology of Education, with a focus on mental and reproductive health. She has over 20 years of experience teaching History and Christian Religious Education in Kenyan high schools. She has also authored journal articles, supervised research projects, and created e-learning modules. In her community work, Christine is a member and founder of Hidden Voices Kenya, a mental health charity, and a committee member of the Racial Justice Network.

A profile picture of Isaac Mausya

Isaac Wambua Muasya

Isacc Muasya teaches sociology of education, research methods, and drug dependence. He is experienced in survey research and analyzing data on social issues. He has worked on research projects for organizations such as the World Health Organization, the National Research Fund of Kenya, the University of Nairobi, and the World Anti-doping Agency. As a professor, he is interested in decolonizing education. He organized an international symposium on Decolonizing in 2020 and presented a paper on “The Benefits of Decolonization of Education.”

A profile photo of Samson Gunga

Samson Okuro Gunga

Samson Gunga is a professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Nairobi specializing in Philosophy of Religious Education, E-learning, Online, and Distance Education. With a Master's in Information Systems and degrees in Philosophy of (Mathematics) Education, he has created e-learning modules for the University of Nairobi. He previously taught math in Kenyan secondary schools from 1981-1992 and worked as an external examiner for several universities.

A portrait picture of Ndungi Githuku holding a microphone

Ndungi Githuku

Ndungi Githuku is an "artivist," combining art and activism. He is well-known for pushing for Kenya's Second Liberation and the "Release Political Prisoners" movement as a human rights defender. Githuku uses poetry, music, and film to advocate for human rights and is a lead actor in Kenya's top telenovela, KINA, while also recording and performing with his band, The FieldMarshals.

A profile picture of Mama D

Mama D Ujuaje

Mama D Ujuaje is an experienced researcher and educator in agriculture, horticulture, and human development systems. She draws from her work with diverse communities in East and West Africa and the Caribbean to explore issues of power and social healing. Mama D employs multi-sensory and action research techniques to investigate the intersections of community and academic knowledge. She also studies how beings navigate personal and social trauma in the Anthropocene.

A profile picture of Penny Wangari -J

Penny Wangari -J

Peninah Wangari -J is the CEO of the Racial Justice Network, and pursuing a doctorate at the University of Manchester. With many years of experience working with marginalized communities, she focuses on social justice and studies how colonialism shapes Black activism. Peninah works with individuals who have been affected by socio-economic deprivation, including those facing mental health challenges, homelessness, resource poverty, and domestic violence.

Events schedule

📍Leeds: 4th October - 1.30pm, Outside, between Lifton Place/Leeds University Union

On the 4th of October, 2023, we invite the community to join us for the Symposium Launch event, where we will welcome Elder Prof. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o back to Leeds at around 2pm.  This welcome ceremony and Prof. Ngũgĩ’s opening address ground us in the mission of the Symposium – a justice and honour-led dialogue between our communities, the Professor, and the delegates –  and mark our adoption of the Symposium’s calendar of events for the following weeks. 

  • The first event, led by Joe Williams of Heritage Corner, is a tour of the Professor’s alma mater, the University of Leeds. Accompanied by the delegates, we explore the legacies and transformations of the institution where Professor Ngũgĩ wrote his pivotal book, A Grain of Wheat.

  • After the tour, there will be an address to close the day by Professor Ngũgĩ, and a farewell.

  • Between the 5th and 6th of October, 2023 Sheffield University have organised for the Professor to grace the Utopia Theatre on the 5th of October, 2023, where the Gukunguira, the traditional reception of honouring and acknowledgement, will be performed, held by members of the delegation. He will be regaled by a selection of the community familiar with his life and works and offer a short speech in acknowledgement of the same. The 6th October will see a hosting of a conversation with the delegation.

  • The delegation will be in Manchester between the 11-13th of October, 2023. The 11th October will see the Professor and members of the delegation hold audience with members of the Rastafarian community and African Diaspora at the Windrush Centre, acknowledging Manchester to be the site of the 1945 Pan-African Conference, which was an international meeting of minds in critical conversation and movements of solidarity heralding the gathering motion towards independence across the colonised world.

  • On the following day the respected journalist Gary Younge and Pan-African Reparationist and Jurisprudent, Esther Stanford-Xosei, will be holding space for Professor Ngugi in Manchester University for his delivery of the prestigious Arthur Lewis annual Lecture on October 12 at 6pm in University Place Lecture Theatre. There will also be discussions on the following day continuing relations between the members of the Kenyan delegation and the university and the work of decolonisation, reparation and educational futures as part of the ongoing exchange between RJN and its global relations on these subjects. (SOLD OUT)

  • Finally on the 16th October, 2023,  the Professor will deliver a Keynote lecture in Leeds at Liberty Building (Moot Court) LT (1.28) from 2-4pm, which will include leading a special panel in a roundtable discussion. This will be a public lecture and discussion, which requires advance booking. It will serve to commemorate his life and work which arose from a place that was incredibly formative and impactful on his path, launching a lifelong commitment to cognitive and decolonial praxis.

Events schedule

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Our sponsors and Partners

Support the Event by Donating: Help Us Make a Difference!

We are reaching out to all the kind-hearted people out there who are interested in making a difference in the world. Our upcoming event is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness about our cause, but we are in need of your support to make it truly impactful.

We invite you to donate to our cause to help us bring this event to life. Your contribution will go towards various expenses such as venue rental, promotional and marketing tools, guest speakers, and much more. Every donation, no matter how small, can greatly help us in achieving our goals and making a difference in the lives of many.

To donate, please visit our website where you can easily make a secure transaction using your credit card or PayPal. We greatly appreciate your support, and thank you in advance for joining us in making a positive change in the world!

Frequently Asked Questions

Ngugi wa Thiong’o is a renowned author and scholar known for his influential contributions to African literature. While he is not a Nobel Laureate, his work has garnered international acclaim and recognition.

The event aims to celebrate Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s life and literary contributions while providing a platform to discuss his impact on literature, social justice, and critical thinking.

The event date, time, and location will be provided on the event page. Stay tuned for updates!

Yes, this event is open to the public. All are welcome to attend.

Details on registration or ticket purchase will be provided on the event page once available.

Yes, there may be Q&A sessions or opportunities for interaction during the various events lined up.

Details about book signings or other related activities will be announced on the event page.

To stay informed about event updates, please check the event page regularly and follow our official social media channels for announcements and news.