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Alienation and Revolutionary Vision in East African Post-Colonial Dramatic Literature


This paper is a trans-disciplinary inquiry into the principles of alienation and revolutionary ethos in two East African plays of postcolonial society. It engages literary-textual exegesis and sociological theories to unravel the multi-dimensional forms of alienation as an interrogation of contemporary postcolonial history. The writers, though somewhat in throes and dilemma of exilic consciousness, ‘commodify’ and appropriate the literary enterprise as weapon of active physical revolt and textual indignation against the post-independent maladies and conditions of alienation. We discover a paradigm shift from obvious ironic strain of political, economic dissonance and use of prison as metaphor for psychic/physical and spatial dislocation in The Trial of Dedan Kimathi to religio-genic instrument of oppression, exploitation and revolutionary fervor in I Will Mary When I Want. While the latter play x-rays the combative struggle of the mau-mau warriors for an end to colonialism, the former deploys the resources of ‘reversed-alienation’ and nostalgia to enact a melodrama of psychic and intellectual rebellion against the African capitalists of post-colonial Kenya. Thus, African drama is an active participant in the critical, ideological and sociological transactions of historical materialism in post-colonial Kenya.

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