Prophecy in Ngugi wa Thiong'o's devil on the cross and Ayi Kwei Armah's the beautiful ones are not yet born

Thumbnail Image
Munalula, Kangombe
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The University of Zambia
From fourteenth century medieval literature to contemporary American and African American literature, researchers have singled out and analyzed writing from every genre that is prophetic in nature, predicting or warning about events, both revolutionary and dire, to come. This comes against a background of over-reliance on the Bible or religious works for prophecy. Two twentieth-century African texts which embody the essence of warning and foretelling are Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross and Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. The purpose of this study is to investigate prophetic traits in the two texts in accordance with some definitions of prophecy. This investigation makes use of historical and biographical, moral-philosophical and Marxist theories. Philosophy reveals that the two novels’ prophetic platforms bear witness to the challenges of a commoner before and after independence, and later years of social, economic and political injustices, or rather deleterious societal conditions. The two texts also make predictions, criticisms, warnings and promises of restoration if their warnings are heeded. Also the media through which this prophecy is disseminated are songs or music, history, stories, unique language - nauseating, scatological and vulgar in the case of Armah, and metaphorical and satirical in the case of Ngugi. However, restoration is minimal and there are no demonic predictions in Armah’s text as compared to Ngugi’s. Moreover, prophecy in the two texts is significant as it: guides people to liberate themselves from their plight; alerts people to read the two texts as prophecy; helps people to invent the future; paves the way for investigation of prophecy in other fictional works and fills the gaps which might have been left in the course of this study. Unlike ancient Biblical texts, the two texts under this study are contemporary to our own time, place, and circumstance and can easily be read in contemporary ways. In order to cement the prevalence of prophecy in the two texts, however, allusions or echoes to the Bible have been made where possible as religion seems to be the foundation of prophecy.
Kenya-In literature , Ngugi wa Thiong'o,1938-Critiscism and interpretation , Ayi Kwei Armah,1939-Interpretation