A Study of Metaphors used for Bingu wa Mutharika and Peter Mutharika as Presidents of Malawi and the Impact on their Political Legacy

Wellman Kondowe, Flemmings Fishani Ngwira, Mackenzie Chibambo


Metaphor analysis has been a very attractive area of scholarly research within cognitive linguistics in which different abstract ideas get mapped into tangible concepts. In Africa, it has become common that individuals like presidents are given metaphors to conceptualise their performance in office with the objective world. However, such political metaphors have not received much attention in academic discourse, and research studies that address the impact of metaphors on presidents’ political legacy are rare. Therefore, this paper analyses metaphors that Malawians have used in relation to their political leaders by drawing examples from two State Presidents: Bingu wa Mutharika and Arthur Peter Mutharika, and how the legacy of the two eventually has come to be associated with the metaphors. In politics, metaphors are essential because they are the lens through which people view and assess their leaders at both theoretical and functional level. Using the approach outlined by Schmitt (2005), the study analyses four major metaphors, namely: MOSE WA LERO (The New Moses), NGWAZI (The Conqueror/The Great Warrior), CHITSULO CHA NJANJI (The Railway Steel), and ADADI (The father/Dad). This paper argues that political metaphors, whether for praise or self-glorification, have an impact on influencing, shaping, and preserving the image of political leaders during their tenure of office which eventually become their legacy. The study acknowledges that presidents’ legacy can be traced through metaphor analysis. The analyses can become meaningful and valid in unearthing the history of conduct and performance of individual leaders.


Metaphor, Conceptual Metaphor Theory, Bingu wa Mutharika, Peter Mutharika, Malawi

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.9n.2p.61


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