This work seeks to showcase the prevalent political situation in apartheid South Africa. The study examines two primary tests - The Chattering Wagtail of Mikuyu Prison and Of Chameleons and Gods written by Jack Mapanje. The project work brings to fore the rigorous pain and torture which the people of South Africa and political freedom writers went through during their incarceration.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title page i
Table of contents vii
1.1 Background of the study 1
1.2 Biography of Jack Mapanje 5
1.3 Purpose of the study 7
1.4 Justification 10
1.5 Scope of the study 11
1.6 Organization of chapters 12
2.1 Apartheid as a political rhythm 14
2.2 A review of racial discrimination in South Africa 20
2.3 Critical overviews on reactions of the South African Black victims of oppression 22
A. Jack Mapanje’s The Chattering Wagtail of Mikuyu Prison:
A textual Analysis 27
3.1 Symbolism 27
3.2 The political registers, style and structure in
Mapanje’s The Chattering Wagtail of Mikuyu Prison 37
3.3 Figurative Elements in Mapanje Poetry of
The Chattering Wagtail of Mikuyu Prison 38
3.4 The poetry mood and political tone 39
B. Politics and South Africa poetry: The example of
Jack Mapanje’s Of Chameleons and Gods.
i. Plot readings in Mapange’s Of Chameleons and Gods
ii. The political themes in Mapanje’s
Of Chameleons and Gods
4.1 Conclusion 41
4.2 Summary 42
Literature in South Africa during the time of Jack Mapanje was protest literature. It has it roots in the unique political situation of the country.
The political Rhythm in South Africa is a policy of discrimination, which is also know as Apartheid and deceptively called a policy of separate development by the whites in South Africa.
By this policy of colour segregation, the white population is accorded a supreme position over the blacks and the coloured in all aspects of life are relegalled to the background. And this, is done with a full backing of the law of South Africa then.
The crux of it all is that the blacks even in their majority are totally helpless and powerless against the machinery of apartheid by the white minority that has entrenched it in South Africa.
Looking at the incarceration of these various writer and viewing things from their angle, Lovesey (1995) stats that:
It is important to re - state that imprisonment of African writers, often almost by definition politically engaged, is the incarceration of the creative national spirit seeking to define on celebrate national freedom. Silencing the national voice dehumanizes and recolonizes the antion.
The situation brought pain and toture to the blacks, since they were handicapped to carryout their wishes even on their own native land.
Black writers during this period, then saw it as a challenge to writer about the ills being caused by the white imperialist who invaded their country (South Africa) and the sufferings the blacks were experiencing.
This act of the black writers brought him in collision with the ruling whites. And from existing literature on poetry; its definition all over it is imperative to note that the various definitions of poetry are structured, patterned and modified based on tradition, culture, ideological beliefs and influence. This fact informs the political under tone in the poetry of Jack Mapanje.
In the words of Charles Bodunde: (1999), for instance:
Sometimes, the political activities of the modern African poets brings him into collision with those in position of power. The incarceration of writers is a familiar experience in Africa, especially where the political form assumes a totalitarian structure.
The South Africa experience is captioned in Bodunde’s above observation. Plator’s conception of imitation “implies a perception of literature as a reflection of the society”.
From the foregoing, it is obvious to the ordinary person the kind of pains torture and torments that the South Africa people face was borne out of the racial discrimination apparent in the African continent at that times. This racial discrimination is known as the system of apartheid where the white minorities see themselves as being superior to the black majority who are the original owners of the land. The system (Apartheid) predominantly resides within the Southern African region of the African continent the political condition is inspirational, motivational and brings to the fore the sufferings of the blacks in the hand of the white imperialist. The poems written by the poets during the period of incarceration shows the appalling brutal conditions that the poets and the citizens were subjected to. The tone of anger, compassion, depression, loneliness, hopelessness and pains were reflected in Jack Mapanje’s The chattering Wagtail of Mikuyu Prison and Of Chameleons and Gods which vividly reflects all these degrading and dehumanizing aspects of segregation.
Jack Mapanje was the head of English Department University of Malawi, South Africa. The brutality of the government was shown when the dictatorial and authoritarian President, President Hastings Kamuzu Banda ordered his arrest, which led to his being imprisoned for four years. He was accused of “teaching subversion in the class”. His collection The Chattering Wagtail of Mikuyu Prison, shows his reaction to the banning of his last collection Of Chameleons and Gods and his subsequent imprisonment in the famed Mikuyu Prison.
His collections brings to the fore the horrifying and brutal experiences suffered by the masses during apartheid.
Taking a critical look at the situation in Africa at this point when the collections were written, Africa and Africans were under the dictates and subjections of colonial imperial and neo colonial authority.
Also, some countries that have gained independence from the colonialist were being ruled by dictators and oppressors who plunged their countries into abject poverty and victimization of the citizens were rampant. This led to the protest in several quarters, which eventually led to he incarceration of many freedom fighters. This is mostly prevalent in the regions of Southern and Easter Africa.
To emancipate themselves, the people had to resolve to revolution’s of various forms, which include rioting sabotage and propaganda. The most effective and efficient weapon used during this period was writing the spontaneous and intrinstic strength arising from the collections in view (The Chattering Wagtail of Mikuyu Prison and of Chameleons and Gods) is a highly determing factor which contributed to the success and eventually effects of the works on the ruling and executive class as well as the citizenry. These works have stood the test of time and is still relevant to our present day society where oppression and torture still regions supreme in some regions of Africa.
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