From Home and Exile
237 Pages
English
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From Home and Exile

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Gain access to the library to view online
Learn more
237 Pages
English

Description

This book is about home. With Malawi as its focus, it seeks to understand ideas about home as expressed through poetry written by Malawians in English. Although African Literatures are studied those of Malawi have not received agreeable attention. This book surveys poetry by five Malawian writers � Felix Mnthali, Frank Chipasula, Jack Mapanje, Lupenga Mphande, and Steve Chimombo. The discussion negotiates scribed experience of exile, engendered by Dr. Banda�s regime, and shows that the selected poets effectively converse with a sense of home, reflecting on its transformations in their work. Interrogating the strict definitions of home, the argument highlights that far from home-less exiles in fact clarify the sense of what �home� is. The manoeuvre is one of thinking towards an unboundaried �home�. This book will be of value not only to readers interested in the cultures of Africa but to all those with an interest in worldwide literary phenomena, and ideas therein of home and exile.

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Published 03 December 2014
Reads 1
EAN13 9789956792306
Language English
Document size 4 MB

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Exrait

book surveys poetry by five Malawian writers – Felix Mnthali, Frank Chipasula, Jack
poets effectively converse with a sense of home, reflecting on its transformations in their work. Interrogating the strict definitions of home, the argument highlights that far
FROM HOME and EXILE: A Negotiation of Ideas about Home in Malawian Poetry
Joanna Woods
From Home and Exile: A Negotiation of Ideas about Home in Malawian Poetry
Joanna Woods
Langaa Research & Publishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher:LangaaRPCIG Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Langaagrp@gmail.comwww.langaa-rpcig.net Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective orders@africanbookscollective.com www.africanbookscollective.com
ISBN: 9956-792-77-2 ©Joanna Woods 2015DISCLAIMER All views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Langaa RPCIG.
Table of Contents Abstract Note............................................................................. v Map.............................................................................................. vii Chapter I: Introduction........................................................ 1 a) Home and Exile..................................................................... 1 b) Discussion............................................................................. 5 c) Chapter Overview................................................................. 7 Chapter 2: Methods and Multiple Spaces of Study......9 a) My Research........................................................................... 9 b) Limitations and Delimitations.............................................14 Chapter 3: Home, Exile and The Self: The Negotiation of Concepts.............................................................................. 21 a) Ideas about Home................................................................. 21 b) Ideas about Exile and the Memory of Home.................. 30 c) Theory of the Subject: Ideas about the Self...................... 41 Chapter 4: The Context: Malawi as place, its history and its people...................................................................................51 a) Malawi..................................................................................... 51 b) The Poets............................................................................... 66 Felix Mnthali.............................................................................. 66 Frank Chipasula..........................................................................68 Jack Mapanje.............................................................................. 69 Lupenga Mphande..................................................................... 71 Steve Chimombo...................................................................... 71
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Chapter 5: The Poetry: An Interpretation of a Selection of Poems by the Named Malawian Poets...................... 73 Conclusion: A Reflection on Research Findings and Spaces of Study....................................................................... 139 a) On Interpretation: Using Poetry, Interview Material and Fieldwork.................................................................................. 139 i) Literature as a means of constructing ‘home’.................... 140 ii )Exploring interview material and fieldwork for research....................................................................................... 142 b) Research Findings: – Being in Place and being without place: constructing a relationship with home........ 144 c) Concluding Remarks 148 Appendix....................................................................................149 a) The Poems..............................................................................149 b) Malawian Myths.....................................................................208 Bibliography.............................................................................211
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Abstract Note For me, ideas about home first came into play when I journeyed to Malawi and created a home for myself there. At that time, not only did the childhood place, back among family and friends in the United Kingdom, and the newly discovered place, under mango and jacaranda canopies and adorned by communal ardour on the foot of Mulanje Mountain, illuminate themselves as home, but my writing and the imagined spaces of home also came into being. General literary enthusiasm carried me to research the literature of the newfound home place, and it was from there that questions began about what ‘home’ meant to the people who had surrounded me in Malawi. ~ While this book is about home, at the heart of it is Malawi and its poetry. The aim is to negotiate ideas about home as expressed through Malawian poetry written in English. From experiences of exile, engendered by the oppressive regime of Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda between 1966 and 1994, the selected Malawian poets – Felix Mnthali, Frank Chipasula, Jack Mapanje, Lupenga Mphande, and Steve Chimombo – effectively converse with home and reflect on its transformations in their work. Although Steve Chimombo did not flee Malawi or stay in exile, he is still of remarkable importance to this discussion. Research into poetry from Malawi is largely shaped by exploration of the country’s politics. In this book, I make an attempt to position poetic analysis somewhere other than in a political remit; I move away from readings construed from a political agenda to show more of a cultural sensibility in poems from Malawi. If written poetry in Malawi is frequently v
presented in dense codes, employing cryptic language and structure, cultural aesthetics in the poetry, such as oral literatures, implants a sense of a collective Malawian sensibility of home. While ‘home’ is tangled with the physical place and the imagined space of Malawi, the poets make a resounding case for literature itself and its significant standing as a home. Insofar as the poetry is fashioned as personal endeavour, the literary text creates a home for the ‘self’. It has been assumed that exile is a terrible challenge for the individual. I argue that through literary endeavour and creativity it may rather reveal itself as a constructive experience in terms of negotiating ideas about home: Understanding is born not of transcendence but displacement.(Jackson 1995: 157) The approach is one of analysing expressions of home in poetry written from the experience of exile; it is not about the place of exile, nor is it an analysis of a southern African experience. Ultimately, the poems form a foundation upon which to speak of the context: Malawi.
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Map
Note on Map: This map shows Malawi and its neighbouring countries in south-eastern Africa. The star indicates the position of Lilongwe, the country’s capital city. 1 The map also points to Nyika Plateau in the northern region; 1 ‘Nyika NP’ –National Park – on the map. vii
Zomba Plateau and Mount Mulanje in the southern Shire; and, just north of Zomba, the tip of the Lake which stretches 2 on up into Malawi’s’ north.
2 Map retrieved from:http://www.worldofmaps.net/en/africa/map-malawi/map-regions-malawi.htmon 18 October 2013. viii
Chapter 1 IntroductionHome and Exile To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognised need of the human soul. (Weil 1949; 2002: 43) When we think of home we imagine being rooted, safe and secure in our surrounding environment. We conceive of being in place. Since antiquity, the quest for that place in which one feels at home has pervaded literature and literary theory throughout the world. As Simone Weil (1949) suggests, it is part of the human condition to need to consider our physical rootedness. Since literary study concerns itself with a basic interest in humanity, it fits that ideas about home are well represented across the literary landscape. Malawi, then, is no exception to this rule. As in many other countries, until modern technologies ushered in a new era of preserving literary texts, bodies of literature in Malawi existed in forms other than print. These forms included spoken word, folk stories, myth, riddles and songs marked the beginning of tales about home. However, the idea of home is complex. As Naficy (1999) suggests, the key concept of home is accompanied by its partners ‘house’ and ‘homeland’. But home is also conceptualised beyond the physical manifestation of a house; it implies more than the “literal object, the material place in which one lives”. In this conceptualization, home “moves 1