Postcolonial Ogres: the Grotesque in Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow

Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike, University of Alberta


Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow dramatises the social decay in much of postcolonial Africa in such a manner that it appears caricatural and rather grotesque. The novel, in fact, teems with grotesque imagery. This paper will analyse Ngugi’s usage of the grotesque aesthetic, with a view to examining the various representations of the grotesque and the extent to which the text is unarguably grotesque. Drawing on M.M. Bakhtin’s concept of the grotesque and of a few other theorists, the paper concludes that Ngugi employs the grotesque as a narrative strategy to illuminate the dehumanising socio-political conditions symptomatic of despotic African nations. By using this strategy, Ngugi equally critiques the monstrosity of unbridled power amongst politicians in government, while advocating its subversion by popular revolution.


grotesque, Bakhtin, Rabelais, neocolonial, postcolonial, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

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