Jack Mapanje: Of Chameleons and Gods

(322 words)
  • Fiona Johnson Chalamanda

Jack Mapanje's first collection of poems, Of Chameleons and Gods made a very particular impact in Malawi after its publication in 1981 because the Censorship Board recognised its implicit criticism of the autocratic regime of Hastings Kamuzu Banda, and subsequently withdrew the book from circulation, despite its international reputation. The notoriety of the poems' political gesture has often deflected from the skill and beauty of the poems as they transform elements of Malawian oral culture into syncretic literary forms. Mapanje makes particular use of the praise verse form in making ironic, understated and satiric commentary on the political situation and its supporters. This rhythmic speaking voice is apparent in the poem …

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Chalamanda, Fiona Johnson. "Of Chameleons and Gods". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 January 2001
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=3156, accessed 01 July 2015.]