A postcolonial analysis of the Kiswahili detective fiction
Ikuathu Silas Thuranira
This paper attempts a critical examination of the social function of the Kiswahili detective fiction. A way from the traditional view that detective genre deals with the investigation of crime only, this paper argues that the writers of this genre often addresses other social, economic and political realities. For instance, this paper isolates and foregrounds the commitment of Ben Mtobwa as a Swahili detective author, in addressing critical matters of his time. The paper therefore examines the question of postcolonial Africa with a keen eye on the East African post-independence situation. The defining focus of this genre is to investigate a crime with a view to apprehending the culprit, consequently offering some restorative justice to the victim. Though not all detective stories are about commission of a crime, the investigative aspect of the novel supersedes all other generic features. The detective genre of the novel can therefore at times be classified as a subgenre of the crime novel. This study uses the postcolonial theory so as to effectively contextualize those European views about other races, that were responsible for the subjugation of the non-European world during colonization and afterwards. The paper therefore not only tackles economic exploitation, cultural imperialism but also goes ahead to show how African political liberation was replete with covert dangers. Thus we have highlighted the role of the frontline countries in the liberation of Southern Africa countries and the political landmines that such countries had to navigate in their attempt to gain and preserve their independence. The paper draws illustrations from the novels by Ben Mtobwa in this endeavor.