Dialectics of power and resistance in Francis Imbuga’s betrayal in the city and the return of Mgofu
Wekesa, Inviolata Naliaka
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This study is an examination of dialectics of power acquisition, maintenance and resistance as depicted in Francis Imbuga’s two selected plays. The study addresses literature as a mirror of the society in relation to power discourses. The objectives of the study are: to investigate Imbuga’s use of characters to show how power is acquired and maintained in his two plays, to establish how Imbuga uses characters to resist power through diversified dialectical approaches and to examine the language use by Imbuga to dramatize the power discourses in Betrayal in the City and The Return of Mgofu. This study is guided by Karl Marx’s theory of Marxism particularly the strand of Dialectical materialism and revolution. Marxism theory is used to help explain power discourses in the society as portrayed by the playwright and also to establish the force behind the playwright that makes him present his ideas in the manner he does in the selected texts. The study is complemented with Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis Theory to help explain and analyze Imbuga’s diversified approaches to power discourses and the forms of resistance used in his works of art. The study is qualitative in nature that entails close reading and analysis of texts. The two texts, Betrayal in The City and The Return of Mgofu written in a span of about 35 years are selected to help investigate and identify the trend in Imbuga’s approach to power discourses in society. The major findings of this study are the shift in leadership from the concentration of power among individuals to council leadership, careful use of literary language is a safe means of addressing societal ills without brushing state harassment and the most appropriate approaches of resisting power is inclusion and use of diplomacy. This study is significant as it may be used to address the power obsession problems among African leaders who cling to power; which in turn lead to protests from the masses and civil strife in their countries. It is noted that Dialectical materialism and revolution strand of Marxism is the most appropriate way of negotiating for space in a highly polarized society. This is because those in authority do not feel directly attacked as compared to other Marxist approaches. This study can be used to recommend that literary artists should embrace Imbuga’s way of enlightening society by applying Marx strand of Dialectical materialism and revolution. This does not take leaders head on while cautioning the use of other strands of Marxism that are likely to cause more destruction of life, property and the general disintegration of society. Similarly, it recommends that writers should embrace literary language aspects that avoid direct confrontations with the authorities like the use of Horatian satire that Imbuga uniquely uses to achieve his objectives.
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