Zakes Mda, a leading South African novelist, has defended Mukoma wa Ngugi, the Kenyan author, who called out Ngugi wa Thiong’o, his dad, for allegedly abusing his mother.


On Tuesday, Mukoma, an associate professor of Literature at Cornell University, United States, alleged that his father, the prominent Kenyan author, used to “beat up” his late mother.

Mukoma, 53, also claimed his mother would seek refuge at his grandmother’s house to avoid the alleged abuse.

Mukoma’s X post stirred a wave of mixed reactions on X. While some users tackled the author, others hailed him for bringing the allegation to light.


Joining the fray via X, Mda, the 76-year-old writer, claimed while growing up, he saw Nelson Mandela, the former South African president, slapping his wife.

He said although he never witnessed his own dad beat his mum, but “his words were abusive to her most times”.

He said he thought that was how “real men” should do; discipline “their” women.


Mda hailed Mukoma for speaking up, adding that “many of us need such reckoning with the truth of our past”.


“This is the bravest thing any son of an icon can do. Ignore those who are denouncing you. What is more important is your truth and your healing,” he wrote.

“Many of us need such reckoning with the truth of our past. My father never physically beat up my mother – to my knowledge. But his words were abusive to her most times. I never said or did anything about it.

“I thought it was normal, it was how real men talked to women. It was the same when I saw Nelson Mandela slap his wife Evelyn in the kitchen in the presence of us kids.

“Here too I thought it was a normal thing that men should do occasionally – discipline “their” women. It was only on looking back as a young adult that I realized that what I saw growing up had left me traumatized.”


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