Of course, we had to use the language they use –Gikuyu. There is no way you are going to a village and you tell them we are having a drama in English –it would be absurd. And that was a learning process for me, because I discovered that they (the people) knew Gikuyu language more than I did, because it was an everyday language for them. So, the moment we used Gikuyu, the elitist division between the educated and the none educated was actually erased in terms of language –you could no longer use English as a way of showing how much you knew the language. That was very important for all of us. Then you could see what everybody could contribute. You could contribute what you heard, and what they heard wasn’t defined by English language.
They must come up with educational policies that empower African languages. In a nutshell, if you know all the languages in the world, and you don’t know your mother tongue or the language of your culture, that is enslavement. But, if you know your mother tongue and the language of your culture and you then add all the languages of the world, that is, empowerment. The reality in Africa is that we have to choose between empowerment and enslavement. I would rather choose empowerment. I mean, I write in Gikuyu, but you and I speak in English – I am a professor of English in California.
Since I published the novel, Petals of Blood, in 1975, all my novels have been in Gikuyu, all my drama scenes have been in Gikuyu, all my poetry have been in Gikuyu. I am a professor of English, theoretical works, and most of them are in English. But creative works as a whole have been consistently in Gikuyu.