A comparative study of satire in mission to Kala and devil on the cross

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Mbewe, Ian
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The University of Zambia
This study sought to compare how satire is demonstrated or applied in a pre-independence fiction Mission to Kala and a post-independence fiction Devil on the Cross. First, the study described the nature of satire and its manifestations. It, thus, attempted to fill the gap that had been created by scanty discussions of satire in Beti’s Mission to Kala and Ngugi’s Devil on the Cross by focusing on stylistic devices including names as literary devices that lead to satire. After identifying the satiric devices in both literary works, they were categorised into broader topics known as subjects of satire namely politics and the middle class, western education, religion and culture including the titles of the two novels. The findings indicated that satire is a matter of tone and its satirical tone is categorised as either mild or bitter based on the Roman tradition of Horatian and Juvenalian satire. The study demonstrated that satire, mild or bitter, has for a long time been used to expose the negative socio-economic and political realities perpetrated by both the sympathisers of colonialism and later the agents of neocolonialism in the post-independence phase. This study had employed the Marxist literary theory and Literary Onomastics through stylistic analysis and demonstrated how satire exposed the evils and how a “training camp” in the colonial era was transformed into a “jungle” in post-independent Africa, symbolically, where character types in both periods exhibited such human weaknesses as greed, selfishness, narrow appetites and sadistic violence leading to exploitation and oppression. This historical transition was delineated on the basis of the colonised African elite and colonial lackeys as the direct offshoot of the African bourgeoisie groups which created a symbolic connection between the two periods of time in the African context. Based on the above findings, the results on the similarities and dissimilarities indicated that both texts maintained the Marxist outlook, explored the same subjects of satire, employed ironic juxtaposition to satirise capitalism, used the object called the “giant ogre” to craft the metaphoric effect, employed biblical allusions and character names to satirise. However, the differences were noted as each novelist employed a different style, and Beti had the colonised African elite and subordinates as his targets of satire as opposed to Ngugi’s comprador politicians, comprador and national bourgeoisie.
Satire--Political satire , Political satire , Satire , Literature , Wit and humor