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Volume 2, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1757-1936
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1944



The author explains his insertion into Malawi's human rights and cultural history. In its 30 year rule from 1964 to 1994 the Malawi Congress Party regime passed a maze of anti-democratic legislation, which, backed by brutal police and paramilitary youth organisations, prevented any attempts at creation of an opposition. The demolition of free speech in public discourse, including the media, created a default space for young intellectuals to use the metaphorical power of literature and theatre to critique the political establishment. Artists found innovative ways of evading the laws and activities associated with the Malawi Censorship Board, and not a few were arrested for their activities. The three year seven month detention of poet, Jack Mapanje from 1987 to 1991 focused world attention on the struggle by Malawian democracy activists for political liberation. This culminated in the establishment of multi-party democracy in 1991–1994, which created the conditions for a more liberated, but still contested discursive field. The paper concludes with a brief analysis of this process, including a comparison with twenty-first century cultural and social struggles for democracy.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): censorship; creativity; democracy; dictatorship; human rights; liberation; metaphor
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