Not all 14-line poem is a sonnet; and this one by Jack Mapanje is a good example. It is a free verse that centred on politics and leadership. The diction is quite simple and rurual-like in nature with a beach setting in terms of words like “bamboo” “dancers” “bonfire” and more.
The voice of the poem foresaw what will become of the actions of a certain leader referred to as “brother”. The voice of the poem also saw how the leader’s colleagues will betray and mock his reign_ line 2-4:
“…these very officers
Will burn the scripts of the praises we sang to you
And shatter the calabashes you drank from”.
The voice of the poem believed the activities of the leader was unnecessary; in line 1 it was referred to as a “frothful carnival” because his officers were not faithful; they will go to the extent of burning his bamboo hut under the guise of giving him a “true traditional burial”.
According to line 6 “Become the accomplices to your lie-achieved world!” proves the voice of the poem is certain that the leader’s ways are not straight; he’s a corrupt leader. This tells the readers that the voice of the poem is an unbiased one who sincerely hits the nail in the head.
There are other noted poetic devices in the poem titled “When This Carnival Finally Closes” by Jack Mapanje; and they are as follows:
(1) “scripts of the praise” in line 3 is a metaphor
(2) “drumming veins” in line 2 is a symbolism
(3) “…a God? The devil!” in line 14 is an oxymoron
(4) “bamboo hut on the beach” in line 7 is an alliteration
(5) “And at the wake new mask dancers will quickly leap” in line 11 is an imagery
(6) “What did he think he would become, a God? The devil!” in line 14 is a rhetorical question
(7) “And shatter the calabashes you drank from . Your/ Charms, these drums, and the effigies blazing will” in line 4-5 is an enjambment
The themes are betrayal, change, governance, politics, death, achievement, waste, corruption, etc. In terms of betrayal, the voice of the poem foresaw the leader’s betrayal. Change in the poem is seen from line 11-13:
“And at the wake new mask dancers will quickly leap
Into the arena dancing to tighter skins, boasting
Other clans of calabashes…”
Governance and politics can be considered the motivation for crafting this poem “When This Carnival Finally Closes” by Jack Mapanje. Death was not directly mentioned in the poem but was suggested with phrases such as “drumming veins dry” “giving their hero a true traditional burial”. The achievement of the leader is linked to corruption when the voice of the poem referred to it as “your lie-achieved world!”
As of this moment, whenever Malawian poets come to mind the first name to remember is David Rubadiri followed by Jack Mapanje. He was born 25 March 1944 in Mangochi District of Malawi. Jack Mapanje has made the list of African poets whose poetry landed them in prison; other African poets of the same predicament are Chris Abani, Wole Soyinka, etc. Jack Mapanje was put in prison by a ruling tyrant without charge.
Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)