In Memoriam: Micere Githae Mugo, 1942-2023

Micere Mugo, a dual citizen of Kenya and the United States who was a professor emerita at Syracuse University in New York, died in late June at a hospital in Syracuse. She was 80 years old and had suffered from multiple myeloma.

Born in Kariria, Kirinyaga in Kenya, she was the third born of Senior Chief Richard Karuga Githae. She attended Limuru Girls’ High School, then an all-White girls’ high school. She emerged as the top student at the school, earning herself a scholarship to the University of Oxford in England. However, she decided to attend Makerere University in Uganda.

In 1969 Mugo enrolled in graduate studies at the University of New Brunswick in Canada. She returned to Kenya as the first woman to hold a Ph.D. in literature in all of East Africa. She spent the next several years as the first chief examiner of English and literature for the East African Examinations Council. In 1978, Dr. Mugo was named dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Nairobi.

Dr. Mugo had to flee the country due to political unrest and came to the United States as a lecturer at St. Lawrence University in New York. During this period she traveled all over the United States to increase awareness of the turmoil in her native land. She returned to Africa and taught in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In 1992, Dr. Mugo returned to the United States as a visiting professor at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University. A year later, she joined the department of African American studies at Syracuse University where she served for 22 years until her retirement in 2015.

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