'In 1981 Jack Mapanje was a budding poet and scholar in Malawi. His first collection of poetry, Of Chameleons and Gods had just been published and reviewers were already hailing it as the work of a new and important African voice. His scholarly work in linguistics was also transforming language and literary studies in Central Africa and drawing international attention to the works of writers and critics from the region. Mapanje's poetry was remarkable not only because of his keen sense of sound and place, but also its tense relationship with its context: here was a compelling lyrical voice, producing a musical and touching verse in a country that was under the iron heel of a self-proclaimed dictator and life-president, Kamuzu Banda, Ngwazi. That Mapanje had been able to write such powerful poetry under official rules of censorship was a remarkable feat. But two years later, the state ordered the withdrawal of Mapanje's poetry from all schools, institutions of higher learning, and bookstores. In 1987, after attending a regional language conference in Zimbabwe, Mapanje was arrested by the Malawian secret police and bundled off to prison where he was to stay under lock and key, without any formal charges, until 1991. This book is a recollection of those years in prison. Written in the tradition of the African prison memoir, and often echoing the works of other famous prison graduates such as Wole Soyinka (The Man Died) and Ngugi wa Thiong'o (Detained), the memoir represents Mapanje's retrospective attempt to explain the cause and terms of his imprisonment, to recall, in tranquillity as it were, the terror of arrest, the process of incarceration, and the daily struggle to hold on to some measure of spiritual freedom.' - Simon Gikandi, Professor English, Princeton University Jack Mapanje is a poet and linguist and was head of the English Department, Chancellor College, University of Malawi when he was arrested and detained without charge or trial in 1987. After an international campaign, which included his being promoted as one of Amnesty International's 'Prisoners of Conscience', he was released in 1991. His published works include: Of Chameleons and Gods (1981); The Chattering Wagtails of Mikuyu Prison (1993); Skipping Without Ropes (1998); Last of the Sweet Bananas (2004); and Beasts of Nalunga(2007).