Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the Kenyan activist-writer visited Hyderabad in 1996. I drove him around in my Fiat car for 3 whole days. The CIEFL , which provided a suite in the Guest House, could not fit in an interview into Ngugi’s schedule.Mr. Sai Prasad was sorely disappointed. But Vijay Kumar (Osmania Univ.) would not give up. He asked for 15 minutes. I assured him. Ngugi had to be driven to the Begumpet Airport, right? Whose car rattles less, mine or yours, Vijay? No prizes for guessing…Vijay’s Fiat it had to be. And the driver? Again , no prizes… Subbarayudu. Vijay could steer the conversation , I the car.
A little thriller followed.
Aditya, my six year old son insisted in joining the party. I had no choice. Gave my camera and told him to sit next to me, clicking at will… no talking please. As we reached the guest-house, we found Chalasani Prasad with Ngugi and Njeri. I hustled Ngugi and Vijay into the backseat of Vijay’s car and ensured that Prasad accompanied Njeri in the other vehicle. As Aditya settled into his place next to the steering, some other VIP insisted on sitting in the same car. I was squeezed for space, but I held on to the steering. And drove as if the Flight would wait indefinitely for me. Vijay Got 25 minutes on the tape-recorder by the time we reached the airport , still 15 minutes ahead of time. The VIPs were happy with those 15 minutes. Aditya was happy with the camera work. Vijay’s interview got published in The Book Review some months after. Years later, it found place in Bernth Lindfors and Bala Kothandaraman’s book "The Writer As Activist: South Asian Perspectives on Ngugi Wa Thiong'O."
Some one commented in NY Times recently that it was good for Africa that Ngugi did not get the Nobel this year. That got me searching.
And I FOUND the photographs 2 days ago!! Here they are (photo album).