An Analysis of Jack Mapanje’s Poetry with Particular Reference to his use of Obscuring Devices

Theophilus T Mukhuba


Jack Mapanje’s poetry is a true reflection of his society through the use of obscuring devices. These obscuring devices are necessary to ensure that the literary work reaches its intended audience in a totalitarian society. Overall, Jack Mapanje’s poetry exploits creatures from the world of nature—mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects—for close association with life experiences in various contexts and situations and with people he viewed with contempt and disgust and those he regarded with tenderness and compassion. He utilises them to conceptualize and construct a wide range of ideas that respond to questions of justice, identity and belonging. It all thus becomes part of ecocriticism which is defined by various authors as ‘the study of the relationship between literature and the physical environment’. This eco-critical reading, the use of animal imagery in his poetry makes it stand apart and ahead of other resistance poetry and makes new statements about the relationships between animals, poetry and political resistance in African literature. Mapanje’s poetry is a direct response and a stance of resistance to social injustice, especially the debasement of culture, abuse of power, despotism, oppression and exploitation of the masses by the hegemonic regime of Dr. Hastings in Malawi that leads to his incarceration and final forced flight from his motherland. This paper attempts to showcase the nature of poetic expressions produced in a repressive society.


Metaphors, representation, dictatorship, harmlessness, victimization, despotism, ecocriticism

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