Kenyan-Born poet and playwright
Mĩcere M.Gĩthae Mũgo, Ph.D.
Dept. of African American Studies,
Condensed Biographical Statement
Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo is a poet, playwright, literary critic and Emeritus Full Professor, retired from the Department of African American Studies at Syracuse University in May 2015. A Kenyan by birth, she has two daughters, Mũmbi and the late Njeri, whom she describes as her “comrades” and close friends.
Dr. Mũgo has been in the teaching profession since 1967 and has served in such distinguished positions as: high school headmistress, university department/unit head, first woman faculty dean at the University of Nairobi in 1980, East African Examinations Council’s first Chief Examiner of English and Literature, etc. Prof. Mũgo joined the Department of African American Studies, Syracuse University, in 1993 and during her tenure served as Director of Graduate Studies, Chair of the SU wide Africa Initiative and from 2005-8, as Chair of the Department. In the late 1990s she served as the Director of SU DIPA’s Summer Traveling Seminar to Southern Africa while across SU she has served on: the University Senate, its sub-committees, the Chancellor’s Citation Awards Committee, the Faculty Council, the College Academic Committee, the Honors Program’s Board, the DIPA Program Committee, the Humanities Council and a host of others.
Since joining Syracuse University, Dr. Mũgo has received no less than 15 awards for teaching, advising and academic excellence from students’ organizations. In December 2013, she was awarded the Elder of the Burning Spear and in 2012, the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Distinguished Lecturer Award. In 2008 she received the CNY Women of Distinction Award and in 2007, the academic Distinguished Africanist Award, while in 2004 she was named Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence, becoming the first Black person at SU to receive this honor. In Kenya, The East African Standard Century publication of November 2002 cited her among “The Top 100: They Influenced Kenya Most” during the 20th Century list. Mũgo’s publications include 6 books, 1 co-authored play, 8 co-edited supplementary readers for Zimbabwean schools and an edited journal, Third World in Perspective. She has many chapters in various books, 4 monographs, a lot of internationally anthologized poems, numerous reviews, interviews and citations.
During her stay in Syracuse, Dr. Mũgo’s community activism has involved volunteer work in Central New York prisons; among refugees, including Board membership on the D.C. based African International Refugee Foundation; Inter-Faith Works of CNY; the “Free Mumia” campaign; anti-war campaigns; debt cancellation mobilization against the World Bank and IMF; Amnesty International work; numerous human rights projects – nationally and internationally – especially with regard to women and children. Professor Mũgo is a member of the Ghana Society of Central New York and a founder of the Pan African Community of Central New York, which she has presided over twice since the organization’s founding. She is also the founder of the Syracuse community-based United Women of Africa Organization and its former President. On the SU campus she was instrumental to the designing of the M.A. in Pan African Studies within the Department of African American Studies.
Professor Mũgo has served on the board of directors of many international organizations and on equally many editorial boards. A committed community activist, Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo is a passionate advocate for human rights especially as they have historically been denied to Blacks, women, children, the masses and other marginalized groups internationally. She is a highly sought after public speaker.