Malawian-born poet, university lecturer and former Amnesty prisoner of conscience Jack Mapanje talks about his memoir with Becky Nana Ayebia Clarke MBE (Founder, Ayebia Clarke Publishing Ltd).
In 1981, Jack Mapanje was a budding poet and scholar in Malawi. His first collection of poetry, Of Chameleons and Gods, had just been published in the prestigious Heinemann African Writers Series and his scholarly work in linguistics was drawing international attention. But two years later the state ordered the withdrawal of Mapanje’s poetry from all schools, universities and bookstores. In 1987, Mapanje was arrested by the Malawian secret police and imprisoned without charge until 1991. This memoir represents Mapanje’s retrospective attempt to explain the cause and terms of his imprisonment and the daily struggle to hold on to some measure of sanity and spiritual freedom. It is a forceful indictment of corrupt government and its capacity to wreck lives and whole societies. This book is also a fitting tribute to the solidarity, dedication and tenacity of the British and international campaign that secured Mapanje’s release and saved his life.