New Realism, Social Criticism and Prostitution Motif in Shadreck Chikoti’s Free Africa Flee!
The post-Banda Malawian poetry, like its precursor, has largely been marked by commitment to social and political issues. In taking on these subjects, the poets in Malawi tend to adopt critical stance reminiscent of the role of the traditional bard, who excoriates social misconducts and political malfeasances on the part of the common people and the elite. A contemporary Malawian poet, Shadreck Chikoti’s debut collection, Free Africa Flee!, falls in this category. Despite its topicality and other strengths, the collection has suffered critical neglect. Against this backdrop, this article closely examines selected poems in the collection, and argues that Chikoti makes social criticism out of his poetry, using a singular motif across dissimilar issues, a feature that is quite unusual in a debut collection. The poet’s criticism is located in the context of new realism, a writing convention which privileges ‘hyperextreme sincerity’ and pluralism in its representation of realities. The article concludes that the poet’s thematic renderings preserve a strong link with Abiola Irele’s notion of new realism in the post-independence sub-Saharan African novel.