Critical Analysis of Poems (African)
Class: M.A. Sem.4
Submitted to: M.K. Bhavnagar University, Department of English
The African literature is mirror of African culture and heritage. Here in these poems we found that all poems reflect their hatred towards civilizers. During this British emperor the African culture and heritage is totally ruined. All poems talks about situation of African people, who are wavering between two culture, British culture and African culture. Also deals with the human psychology and impact of civilization on the lifestyle of African people. How happy they are before Bruisers are came. Colonizer also laughs on African culture and rituals.
1) ‘Once Upon A Time’
This poem is written by African poet ‘Gabriel Okara’. In this poem we found that conversation between father and son. Poet deals with impact of globalization so called civilization. The life of human becomes mechanical and robotic life. All people run behind money. And in this race human becomes robot. Here in this poem poet talk about that the relation is remain formal, lake of trust and aspens of feelings. Even smiles also became plastic smile or artificial smile. Humans are doing all this things like hospitality, charity and other things only for sake of doing, not from their heart. People becomes formal some word are only for speaking like good bye, I really enjoyed your company, nice to meet you, come again and many other thing are spoken by for formality, not from heart. People use to wear mask, we found this kind of duel face rather we can says malty face of human being. They stared change emotions like they change their cloths (makeup of mind). Poetic persona tells his son about his glorious past and what is present. Poet try’s to connect past and present, also generation gap of life of father and the life of son. Father says that “Once Upon A time I was like you.” Child is innocent and happy, his smile is original and he enjoyed his life, whereas father cannot do all this things through his heart. Inn past father also use to smile with their heart but now he cannot smile with heart, he smile with teeth. All this things are happened because of money and civilization. Poetic persona asked his son to teach me how to smile. He also longing for original and real life but he can’t. In this poem we found impact of civilization.
This poem is written by Gabriel Okara. The Drum represents African culture. We can say that is connecting with heart beats of poetic persona. Lady who smile’s behind tree is signifies so many things. She is an outsider. Lady thinks that she has more rich culture, but in real sense the colonized won’t have their Own culture. In this poem we found that men, women and fishes are dancing on the bit of drum. It shows the connection of nature and humans, that they are dancing together. It also shows how powerful mystic drum is? The African culture is connected with nature, the mystic drum invokes the sun, the moon, the river, gods and the trees began to dance. In the poem lady is outsider and colonizer also. She is standing behind tree; it shows because of industrial revolution the trees and forest are cutting down. Poetic persona says that the mystic drum is not beat loudly anymore
(Vajani Bhumi's Assignment).Because of
industrialization, African culture destroys slowly. It means the western people started ruling
over Africa. We can say that lady is personification of industrialization. This
is gift of colonialism and imperialism. Industrialization started sucking the
land through their roots. The smoke comes from her lips is suggest how much
pollution is done by industrialization.
In the poem we found that when drum is beaten men become fishes and
fishes become men. But when mystic drum stopped beating men become men and
fishes become fishes. It reflects that life become dry and mechanical.
3) Where I to choose
This poem is written by Gabriel Okara. Here poet tries to compare Adam and Black Negro man. Here poet also talks about generation gap. Adam is father and Cain is metaphorically represented new generation. He talks about the language. The red streams are suggests multilingual new generation. Poet compares Cain (son of Adam) with African man that Cain is wonderer and he doesn’t have any kind of aim in his life. He just wanders here and there without destination. Same man have not aim in their life. Poet indirectly satirized modern men. The tower of Babel is symbol of unity. Because when tower is constructed, people wanted to this tower is a tower of oneness or unity. But god gives them different languages and makes them different through language. The line “And O of this dark halo was the tired head free.” Poet tries to be free from this dark halo.
This poem is written by Wole Soyinka. This poem is kind of advice of new coming generation. Poet dedicated this poem to new born child. Poetic persona has deep sense of life, so he gives advice to new generation, how to live in this world. What to do and what not to do. We compare this poem with Mark Zukerburge’s letter to his new born baby. In which he gives advice to his daughter and hope for better future of his daughter. Poetic persona gives both negative and positive advice to new generation. With the use of different images and metaphors he tries convey his message, like honey, scorpion, moon, sun, and many others. Through this poem poet hope for better society, because his life's passed away but he thinks that his child makes society better. The child itself is dedication to society
5) Telephonic conversations
This poem is written by ‘Wole Soyinka’. Poet deals with racism and relation of black and white people. Talk about first world country and third world country. A black man wont to perchance home (land) from white lady. There is telephonic conversation between them. Telephone is symbol of connecting people, it is tool of communication. But here in poem it shows distance between two people and nation also. Lady represents first world country and black man represent third world country (nation). Here we found Frantz Fanon’s concept of “Black skin and white Mask”. In this poem both are rich, necklace shows richness of lady and black man want to buy home so it shows richness of black man. But lady over power man because she represent or belongs to ‘first world nation’. Lady is colonizer and man is colonized. Location place (home) white colony and for Negro man it is kind of achievement. In this poem we found that lady asked several question, like ‘where are you from? How dark? Are you light or very Dark? After this there is a deep silent. Silent suggest so many things. Silent is ill manner silent. Here we have one question that who is really dark? Black man gives self-confection, ‘I am African’ and many other things. Word use by man “Madam” is shows man gives respect to white lady. I’m not fully dark, don’t go with my color, and in this poem we found that man give his identity to that lady. But lady not give her identity. At the end of the poem there is one line, “About my ears-‘Madam,’ I pleaded, wouldn’t you rather See yourself?” it shows that what men think and mentality of white lady. When we look at this poem with post-colonial perspective, how white people feel superior and black people are inferior. What white people think about black people? That they are always bad and cruel, black people are barbaric, uncultured and uncivilized people.
6) Refugee Mother and Child
This poem is written by Chinua Achebe. First poet introduce statue of ‘Madonna’, and gives refrains of Jesus and his mother. But in this poem poet writes about the real mother and her child. What is the situation of the mother (African mother). Statue of Madonna is illusion of reality. Generally smile of mother is sweet but in the poem, mother’s smile is ghostly looking. Poet also says that mother’s heart is always tender. Mother’s smile is ‘Ghostly looking’ because her child is dead due to diarrhea. Here we found what the condition of African slave is. Mother, she is not able to take care of her child in such kind of illness. The description of mother taking care of her child is like she make child ready for school. But she makes ready her child for tiny grave. Here we found that death of motherhood also. She not sent her child to school but she sends her child for burial. If the child is belong to rich family, child get proper care. Here in the poem death of motherhood and child.
This poem is written by Leopold Sedar Senghor. Here poet tries to show originality behind this glamour world of New York City. New York City is commercial capital of America. Beauty of New York City is not warm but it has cold look. There is lake of humanity and feeling in city. Enjoyment of city is momentary only. The line “long-legged golden girls” it shows richness of the people (white people). The word ‘punch of Jaguar’ tell us about violence and cruelty inn city life. The poet talks about “Blue Metallic eyes”. How people live life rather we can says lifelessness and many other connotation is here. The use of the word ‘Frosty Smile’ this smile is smile of consumer’s society. The word skyscrapers, shows richness of city and also talks about the height of the same. In this poem there is one interesting line “lifting up Owl eyes in the Sun’s eclipse” here poet create atmosphere of night in the day. Owl and sun’s eclipse is the sign of something bad. In this poem we found “no child’s laughter” it means the father and mother have no time to play with their child. Another thing is child’s laughter is innocent; this word suggests that there is no innocent laughter in the busy daily life. The ‘Drum’ represents African culture and spiritual pulse of African traditional life. Poet use lion the bull and the tree, this three things reflect so many things. For example trees are cut down and started building factory’s and all other materialistic things. City becomes forest of cement and concretes. The word like “Black Blood” and “Oil of Life” it is paradoxical that the color of blood is read and it is necessary for life. Oil and blood are mixed with each other.
This all African poems reflect African culture and what African people think about colonizer people. We found that how British people go there and started ruling over them, enslaved them, make them slave. What are the views of African people on the so called civilization? Generally we found that cultural conflict is one of the most prominent points in African poem or literature. Through this poems we found that all poet tryst to discusses one problem, problem of his ancient heritage because of the attack of western culture.
- Vajani Bhumi's Assignment. March 2014. <www.bhumivajani062013.blogspot.in>.