Poverty in Freedom versus Opulence in Chains

Satirical Exposé of the Postcolonial Dictatorships in Kourouma's Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote

in Theoria
Author: Isaac Ndlovu
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In my examination of Ahmadou Kourouma's satirical 'historiographic metafiction' (Hutcheon 1988: 93) Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote [1998] (2004), I argue that this narrative shows that in postcolonial Africa freedom from colonial rule has resulted neither in privilege nor power for the majority of African citizens. In the novel, Kourouma employs but also subverts the style of donsomana or praise poetry in his satirisation of postcolonial African ways of wielding political power. Largely narrated by Bingo, a satirical griot, the novel adopts a mock-epic mode as a way of acknowledging but also subverting both traditional African and European modernistic conceptualisations of the historical and literary. Among other things, the title of the novel satirises the inadequacy of electoral processes imposed by the Western nations to bring about smooth power transitions and genuine freedoms to the African populace. The novel's title also mocks African rulers for undermining democracy and those who are ruled for their inability to seize the voting opportunities, which in the novel are sometimes presented as moments of genuine civil power, to rid themselves of the emasculating dictators.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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