Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “I Will Marry When I Want” as Want to Read:
I Will Marry When I Want
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

I Will Marry When I Want

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  386 ratings  ·  28 reviews
This is the renowned play which was developed with Kikuyu actors at the Kamiriithu Cultural Centre at Limuru. It proved so powerful, especially in its use of song, that it was banned and was probably one of the factors leading to Ngugi's detention without trial. The original Gikuyu edition went to three printings in the first three months of publication. ...more
Paperback, 122 pages
Published January 1st 1982 by Heinemann Educational Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about I Will Marry When I Want, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Namrita Varier I think (other than evoking patriotism) the songs are there to remind Africans and the rest of the world that African literature is unique and they to…moreI think (other than evoking patriotism) the songs are there to remind Africans and the rest of the world that African literature is unique and they too have an identity of their own(since Africa was a British colony,and even after independence the influence remained)Also, the author in one of his essays mentions that the focus of African literature should be the poems and songs written by peasants and workers. Maybe that's why there are so many songs in the play.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  386 ratings  ·  28 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of I Will Marry When I Want
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ngugi wa Thiong'o and his co-writer, Ngugi wa Mirii, are men who have a way with words that is unrivalled and incomparable. And with statements like "A man must brag about his penis no matter how tiny". I mean, come on


Tiny penises aside, the saying is stated by our main character, Kiguunda, one of my favourite fuckers ever in Kenyan post colonial literature. He had been admiring his title deed for his one and a half acre piece of land and his wife, Wangeci, had been trying to get him to fix a br
Mwangi Mugo
Aug 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in understanding post-colonial kenya
Ngûgî is good. now i understand why the play was banned. the message is in short: we fought for the liberation of our nation, to get back our land, but then what happened in 1963? the oppressors, land grabbers changed color from white to black, period. most of the aspirations of the freedom fighters were perverted by the newly found imperialish ex-homeguards. they put on the bequeathed religious cloak to hide their true wolf-in-sheepskin selves. sadly for them, they remain just watchdogs for the ...more
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: african, own
"Mother, why are you insulting me ?
Is that why you refused to send me to school,
So that I may remain your slave,
And for ever toil for you?
Picking tea and coffee only for you to pocket the wages ?
And all that so that you can get money To pay fees for your son!"

This is the play that got professor Ngungi Wa Thiong'o arrested, thrown in jail and the play was ultimately banned as well. After reading it I do understand why. Sadly, this book is still relevant to many African countries today. Here, we
Kesh Gitari
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
It's crazy how relevant this book written in 1982 is to 2017 Kenya. An impoverished country clung to religion and alcohol. The snare of loans and living beyond our means. The political 'wokeness' that does nothing beyond orate, the Kioi's of the world benefiting from the ignorance and suffering of the Kiguunda's of the world, the woes of the impoverished laborer, the naive young girl and the rich boy who ruined her life in search of the admiration of strangers. It's absolutely crazy that this li ...more
Jan 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was the play Ngugi wa Thiongo was imprisoned for writing and performing. It does a good job showing the conflict between families who get ahead and those who aren't able to due to their positions. I would think about teaching this with A Raisin in the Sun - interesting parallel possibilities. ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting play that targets not just the oft-used theme of the problems of Western colonialism in Africa but how there is a compliance of indigenous people to assist foreign interests (post-colonially) in continuing to stratify the African people to reduced hierarchal roles. Heavy Marxist arguments and call for revolution against the capitalistic rich.
Star Obimbo
May 27, 2018 rated it liked it

Discussions breed ideas
and ideas cannot be hauled about like missiles
discussions breed love

There are two sides in the struggle,
the side of the exploiters and that of the exploited
on which side will you be when...

One day, this soil will be returned to us.
Kinyua Adam
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book after reading "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe. The theme of betrayal and forced religion/colonization runs in both. However, Ngugi and his co-author have done more than reveal why it was so easy to colonize Africa. They have brought into the light the mind of a common Kenyan/African citizen from humble backgrounds and with no power.
"The one and a half acre Title Deed"
Kiguunda's only possession that represents a line of demarcation between the antagonistic Kiguunda and his
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I gotta admit, what attracted me to this book is the title. It was on my timeline so I thought I should give it a go. Little did I know it's a patriotic little play. I do not recommend reading it in class, on a slow, sleepy day because this book might spark outrage within you but you gotta seem like you're super focused on the topic they're regurgitating.

This dude has a way with words, either that or people from colonized country just went through the same history. Even one of our own writer als
Robert Kinyanjui
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Kiguunda’s poor personae and that of his neighbor Gicaamba leaves them vulnerable to selfish conquests by fellow countrymen Ahab, Samuel and Ikuua in a neo colonial epoch. In a twist, the Kiguunda’s got suckered into accepting a new religion that left them bereft of their culture of hope and love, going by husband alcoholism, wife battering and daughter degeneration. The two Nguugi’s use of song, inter alia, poetry, dance, mimic and several styles of literature makes the play so intriguing – one ...more
Phoebe Oyugi
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I had expected the book to be mainly about marriage but instead its about capitalism, neocolonialism, exploitation of the masses and erosion of Gikuyu culture. The authors strike a good balance between poignant and hilarious. It contains a number of traditional Gikuyu songs which are important in passing the culture from one generation to the next.
Drew Edwards
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I Will Marry When I Want is a book whose substance was so strong, it hailed its writers. Set up in post colonial Kenya, it navigates the intersections of changing cultures and power dynamics. While figures stood to crush the message, they memorialized it as an instant classic.
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I actually read this as part of Modern African Dramas for a class. It was a really great play and the characters played out very well. I appreciated seeing how different the culture was while relating to the same themes that we have here in America as well.
Mar 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: john, evaa
This book teaches
Brian Chando
Jan 18, 2017 rated it liked it
3 star not because its not that good, but i just don't prefer 'plays' ...more
Aya's Voice
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it
My reading journey went on, and this time thought might as well pick up another book from African Lit.

This play portrayed perfectly what I'd like to call 'the other inferno' previously colonized nations often face. Nations which had seized their freedom with blood and sweat. The previous plight of the colons leaps to rest on the other horn of the bull, that of the rich. The simple people who have always wanted to live, with dignity and equity, are still in the same state: poor, helpless with no
Varyanne S.
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: african-books, plays
This play is, according to some historians, one of the factors that lead to Ngugi wa Thiongo's detention without trial.

The play is a Marxist one and doesn't hold any punches. Subtlety was a foreign word during those post independence times and understandably so.
There is palpable anger and bitterness throughout the play towards the capitalist system inherited by businessmen and political leaders from colonialists. Missionaries and their Christianity are not spared.

Land is stolen, wages are disgus
Jul 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: drama
While there are intriguing aspects to this play, I feel it's message is thrust upon the audience rather than being developed subtly. I know that's inherent to literature engagee, but it doesn't really do much for me. ...more
Mar 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Thiong'o is perhaps the most well-known Kikuyu author. This well-written play was my first from him to read. It impressively covered a wide array of prescient issues to life in Kenya: marriage, Christianity, corruption, Mau Mau, poverty, foreign investment, etc. An important read! ...more
Nicole Gervasio
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-drama
Smart and uplifting. Perhaps it's not the most feminist play in the world, but it very movingly portrays one Kenyan family's moral dissolution in the aftermath of colonial liberation. It also hopefully and thoughtfully examines the nostalgia felt for lost cultural traditions and national identity. ...more
Sarath Krishnan
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
It seems Ngugi has a clear-cut answer to the problems of African society, but how far his tools will be of use to Africa, which no one can tell. Fundamentalism, whether it is by whites or blacks, will not be successful. Fundamentalist Marxism (or Orthodox Marxism)will not be helpful either...
Antonios Curation
Jul 25, 2013 rated it liked it
A' Level literature - to re-read ...more
Jim saddat
Feb 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Cynthia Kauffmann
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
doesn't make me very proud of Christianity. represents what not to do. ...more
Hellen Reads Daily
rated it really liked it
Jun 04, 2017
Essau Mwasivata
rated it it was amazing
Feb 17, 2020
rated it it was amazing
Sep 25, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Apr 14, 2018
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
use of songs as a stylistic device 1 4 Dec 13, 2014 01:45AM  
relevance 1 3 Aug 10, 2013 01:57AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Nervous Conditions
  • The Dilemma of a Ghost
  • Things Fall Apart (The African Trilogy, #1)
  • The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
  • One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir
  • My Life with a Criminal
  • Song of Lawino & Song of Ocol
  • Death and the King's Horseman: A Play
  • Cat Kid Comic Club
  • We Need New Names
  • It's Our Turn to Eat
  • The Challenge for Africa
  • 밀레니엄 1 상: 여자를 증오한 남자들 (Millennium 1: Phase Millennium: The men hate women)
  • The Deep End (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, #15)
  • A Man of the People
  • Unbowed
  • Purple Hibiscus
  • Girls at War and Other Stories
See similar books…
Kenyan teacher, novelist, essayist, and playwright, whose works function as an important link between the pioneers of African writing and the younger generation of postcolonial writers. After imprisonment in 1978, Ngũgĩ abandoned using English as the primary language of his work in favor of Gikuyu, his native tongue. The transition from colonialism to postcoloniality and the crisis of modernity ha ...more

News & Interviews

The beauty of a paperback novel is multidimensional. Allow me to explain: The format allows you to catch up on some of 2020's biggest books...
92 likes · 7 comments
“If poverty was to be sold three cents today, i can't buy it.” 26 likes
More quotes…