Fight dictatorship, poet Mapanje advises Malawians

By Nyasa Times Reporter

Malawi’s acclaimed poet, linguist and human rights activist, Dr. Jack Mapanje has advised Malawians to be vigilant to resist and fight dictatorship in the country.

Speaking on BBC’s Network Africa, Mapanje noted that Malawi was passing through a critical phase of its history, and said Malawians should be resolute to check “the growing tendencies of dictatorship” in President Bingu wa Mutharika.

The academician says Malawians have “come far and should not let anyone become a dictator.”

Mapanje has launched his new poetry book ‘And Crocodiles Are Angry at Night’,   based on his experiences as a prisoner of conscience at the closed and notorious Mikuyu Prison in Zomba, where critics of the late dictator Kamuzu Banda were detained for years without charge.

Dr Jack Mapanje: Malawians should not allow return to dictatorship.-Photo : The Guardian UK

His first collection of poems, Of Chameleons and Gods, published in the UK in 1981 was withdrawn from bookshops, libraries and all institutions of learning in Malawi in June 1985. He was imprisoned without trial or charge by the Malawian government in 1987.

At the time, he was 43 years old, married with three children, and head of the Department of Language and Literature at the University of Malawi.

Immediately after his arrest, he was taken to his office at the university, where copies of his book were confiscated.

Mapanje was finally released in 1991 and exiled to the UK.

He resumed a successful career as an academic and poet. He currently lives in York in the UK and for many years taught Creative Writing and Literatures of Incarceration at Durham University. He is now visiting Professor at York University.

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