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Title:Banishing words and stories: censorship in Banda's Malawi
Author:Zeleza, Paul TiyambeISNI
Periodical:CODESRIA Bulletin
Geographic term:Malawi
Abstract:Censorship in Banda's Malawi had a universal reach, surveying and silencing written and oral narratives, intelllectual texts and ordinary speech. In this paper, specially written for presentation at the 1995 Zimbabwe International Book Fair Writers' Workshop Programme on the writer and human rights, the author outlines the institutional and legal instrumentalities of censorship in Malawi and then attempts to explain 'what made this totalitarian nihilism from which the censorship sprang possible'. He explores the role played by civil society, including the Malawian intelligentsia, in fostering a climate of fear and silence, notably through self-censorship and the internalization of a culture of submission. In many small ways, writers and intellectuals not only conceded political space to the State, but sometimes assisted in authenticating its authoritarianism. The culture of authoritarianism, which sustained censorship, was reproduced at many sites, in the home, the school, the work place, in a complex spiral leading to and reverberating from the State headed by an infallible Life-President. Not only State tyranny, but also the totalitarian potentialities of civil society, of tradition, religion and popular culture, pose a grave danger to the creation of a free, humane and democratic society. Bibliogr., notes, ref.