Semiotics of Power and Dictatorship in Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Later Novels



This paper explores the different uses of symbols to express power and interpersonal relationship in Ngũgĩ’s bulkiest novel Wizard of the Crow (2006), with a few illustrations from Matigari (1987). It draws on the semiotic approach and identifies about a hundred discourse strings in which signs are used to express tenor between characters. In the main, supernatural, faunal and floral symbols are found to be main vehicles of power, though many other such avenues as ‘vocations’, ‘social and gender-related symbols’ and ‘biblical characterisation and numerology’, etc are unexplored here for space constraints. Before the analysis, it is deemed necessary to overview the theoretical background to the study in which relevant concepts have been clarified. It has been concluded that there is no other work in which power is so much expressed through the explored devices as in Wizard of the Crow.

Keywords: tenor, symbol, index, proverb, modality metaphor, modaliser/ weakener, modulator/strengthener

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