Only now, with freedom, can Jack Mapanje speak of his harrowing ordeal in Mikuyu Prison, where 'desperate voices of fractured souls' clamour to be heard. In poems of uncommon power and unflinching description Mapanje condemns a brutal regime. Yet in these poems Mapanje also affirms the enduring love of family and friends and the spirit of his fellow detainees. Today, living in England, he celebrates the hope kept alive by those who fight for human rights.
Jack Mapange was born of Yao and Nyanja parents in Kadango Village, Mangochi District, in southern Malawi. He went to school at Kadango, Chikwana Mission, and Zomba Catholic Secondary School. He has a B.A. degree and a diploma in Education from the University of London. In 1975 he joined the staff of the Department of English at Chancellor College, University of Malawi, as a lecturer, before working as a research student in linguistics at University College, London in the early 1980s.'Of Chameleons and Gods' received the Rotterdam International Poetry Award in 1988. Mapanje was arrested soon after this book was banned in Malawi. He was imprisoned in Malawi and detained without Charge or Trial from September 1987 to May 1991. His second volume of Poetry, 'The Chattering Wagtails of Mikuyu Prison', written while he was detained, was published by Heinemann in 1993.