Generational tension and democratic transformation in Meja Mwangi's ''The big chiefs''
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We recognize the fact that due to globalization and technological advancement new sources of knowledge have come to the fore. It should be remembered that the young are relatively advantaged in accessing this new knowledge than the old. Therefore, the traditional belief that the old are the main source of truth and wisdom as reflected in many of our traditional and current myths may no longer be the only truth. In Africa, democratic transformation and politics oftransition are characterized by reluctance of the old to relinquish power peacefully something that has stirred the young into violence. Meja Mwangi in The Big Chiefs handles this important concept and roots that age remains a potent variable in democratic processes in Africa. This study analyzes generational tension between the young and the old and how it relates to democratic transformation and politics of transition. It also examines the artistic strategies employed by the writer to bring out his vision on democratic transformation in post colonial Africa. The hypothesis guiding this study is that an analysis of generational tension and how it affects democratic transformation is critical to our understanding of Meja Mwangi's vision in The Big Chiefs. Meja Mwangi uses unique stylistic devices to bring out his vision on the role of inter- generational dialogue in political reforms. The research utilizes formalism and postcolonial approaches in investigating the problem.Formalist textual strategies - choice of characters, old age motif, the journey motif, dialogue, reminiscences, symbolism, flashback, juxtaposition, the unique structure of the text, the use of songs - ably communicate the author's perspective on the importance of the views of the young and the old in democratic processes. Through post colonial criticism the study has focused on the conditions and environments that inform the views and experiences of the young and the old. The study benefits from close textual analysis to bring out the fact that due to divergent experiences of the old and the young, their relationship is characterized by tension. In addition, it has shown that blending the perspectives of the vibrant youth with the experiences of the old would enrich political processes and democratization in Africa. The Old Man for instance, stands for tolerance, dialogue and mutual understanding; the Boy yearns for an immediate political change; and the Girl calls for calm reflection while handling political change. Besides, the study has shown that Meja Mwangi envisions a society where different generations engage in dialogue, appreciate each other and exercise tolerance. In other words, intergenerational integration is key to the search for democratic processes. The research has revealed Meja Mwangi's vision on how intergenerational dialogue is critical to democratic transformation in post colonial Africa. It is instructive that, Meja Mwangi deploys the stylistic strategy of dialogue between characters at the textual level to amplify his vision of dialogue between the young and the old in society. It is my recommendation that further studies may enrich our understanding of this phenomenon - the reluctance of the old to relinquish power peacefully in Africa. Such additional research may involve the utilization of other theoretical perspectives. Moreover, to have a broader understanding of Meja Mwangi's vision of generational tension and political reforms in post colonial Africa, further research may consider studying Going Down River Road and Kill Me Quick which also deal with the same theme but from different perspectives. In aggregate my study has demonstrated that literature can be used as a site on which ideological differences are deconstructed. It attempts to separately look at the various opposing categories and views in order to understand the whole and achieve a hybrid perspective. By this submission, I hope to arouse more interest in the studies of gender, age, class and ethnicity among other constitutive categories.