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By the end of this topic, you should be able to: i. Discuss the subject matter of the poem



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By the end of this topic, you should be able to: i. Discuss the subject matter of the poem.

ii. Differentiate the difference in explication of a similar subject by

Clark and Soyinka



11.3 IN-TEXT

11.3.1 Abiku
John Pepper Clark

John Pepper Clark was born in the Ijaw land of Rivers state. He like Okigbo and Soyinka went to the University of Ibadan. A poet, playwright and essayist Clark has published a number of plays and translated the Ijaw classic titled the Ozidi Saga. His volumes of poetry include, A Reed in the Tide, Causalities and A Decade of Tongues.


His poem titled Abiku will be analysed to differentiate how the two poets Soyinka and Clark treat a very similar aspect of African tradition in different ways.

11.3.2 Abiku


Coming and going these several seasons,

Do stay out on the baobab tree,

Follow where you please your kindred spirits

If indoors is not enough for you.

True, it leaks through the thatch

When floods brim the banks, and the bats and the owls

Often tear in at night through the eaves,

And at harmattan, the bamboo walls

Are ready tinder for fire

That dries the fresh fish up on the rack.

Still, it’s been the healthy stock

To several fingers, to many more will be

Who reach to the sun.

No longer then bestride the threshold

But step in and stay

For good. We know the knife scars

Serration down your back and front

Like beak of the sword- fish

And both your ears, notched

As a bondsman to this house,

Are all relics of your first coming.

Then step in, step in and stay

For her body is tired,

Tired, her milk going sour

Where many more mouths gladden the heart.


      1. FORM AND CONTENT IN THE POEM ABIKU

Abiku is the Yoruba word for a spirit child that is born , dies and is reborn from the same mother several times . The Igbo equivalent of the spirit child is Ogbanje. Belief in Abiku or other forms of Abiku are very prevalent not just in Nigeria, but in many parts of Africa as well. While Soyinka’s use of lexical items and syntax give the poem a harsh tone and is difficult to unravel content and form , Clark’s treatment on the other hand is very different. Clark in his poem accepts the unpredictable and inconsistent nature of the spirit child. Throughout the poem he presents abiku as one who could be plead with, appealed to and probably persuaded to live longer. While Soyinka portrays abiku as a heartless spirit that revels in death as a weapon for human torture, Clark appeals to the poet persona to intercede on behalf of the tortured mother, to bring her some comfort, but Soyinka’s abiku seems to be completely in charge, looming like a death heralding cloud that no human power can disperse. Clarke’s expression of simplicity, tenderness and humane treatment of the theme , along with the rhythmic devices makes the poem one of his most memorable poems.


    1. SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE :

1. With suitable examples differentiate the treatment of the theme of Soyinka’s and Clark’s Abiku.

2. Pick out and describe the relevance of some of the figures of speech and sound employed in the poem.



TOPIC: 12
TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGES

  1. TOPIC: THEMATIC AND STYLISTIC ANALYSIS OF

AGOSTINHO NETO’S POEM - - - 40

12.1. INTRODUCTION - - - - - - - 41

12.2. OBJECTIVES - - - - - - - 41

12.3. IN-TEXT - - - - - - - - 41

12.3.1. AGOSTINHO NETO - - - - - 41

12.3.2. NIGHT - - - - - - - 41

12.3.3. THEME AND STYLE IN THE POEM - - - 42

12.4. SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE - - - - - 42



12.0 TOPIC: THEMATIC AND STYLISTIC ANALYSIS OF AGOSTINHO

NETO’S POEM
12.1 INTRODUCTION:

A poem by Agostinho Neto one of the most prominent Lusophone poets will be critically analysed.


12.2 OBJECTIVES:

By the end of the lecture you should be able to :

i. Discuss the theme of the poem.

ii. The oral techniques deployed by the poet.



12.3 IN-TEXT

12.3.1 Night

Agostinho Neto

Agostinho Neto an eminent Lusophone poet was born in Luanda in Angola. After his secondary school in Angola he went to Portugal to pursue his medical studies. He was a keen political activist and played a very active part in protesting against the Portuguese colonial administration. He was often times arrested and imprisoned for his anti administration activities. His collection of poems titled Sacred Hope (Sagrada Esperanca) has a number of excellent pieces or poetry.


12.3.2 Night

I live


In the dark quarters of the world

without light, without life.

They are slave quarters

worlds of misery. Dark quarters

where the will is watered down

and men have been confused

with things.

Anxious to live,

I walk in the streets

feeling my way

leaning into my shapeless dreams

stumbling into servitude.

I walk lurching

through the unlit

unknown streets crowded

with mystery and terror,

I, am in arm with ghosts,

And the night too is dark.



12.3.3 THEME AND STYLE IN THE POEM

Just like the early Anglophone and Francophone African poets Agustinho Neto was also a committed cultural nationalist and freedom fighter and therefore many of his poems express themes of protest against colonialism. In the above poem Night the poet paints vivid pictures of the deplorable ghetto life of poverty, deprivation and exploitation that colonialism had imposed on the people of Angola. The poets pain along with love and anxiety for his land and people are passionately expressed when he writes “Anxious to live” , “I walk lurching”/ “through the unlit /unknown streets crowded / with mystery and terror”. Though the poet draws a gloomy picture, it is not without hope as Neto is optimistic that his people will soon see the day after long dark and dreadful nights of the worst form of European colonialism. By using oral techniques of repetition and rhymes the poet instills faith and hope into a desperate and demoralised group of people.


13.4. SELF- ASSESSEMENT EXERCISE:

1. What is the theme of the poem Night ?

2. Pick out a few words or phrases that express anxiety and terror in the poem.

TOPIC: 13
TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGES


  1. TOPIC: THEMATIC AND STYLISTIC ANALYSIS OF

OSWALD M. MTSHALI’S POEM - - 43

13.1. INTRODUCTION - - - - - - - 44

13.2. OBJECTIVES - - - - - - - 44

13.3. IN-TEXT - - - - - - - - 44

13.3.1. OSWALD M. MTSHALI - - - - - 44

13.3.2. JUST A PASSERBY - - - - - 44

13.3.3. THEME AND STYLE IN THE POEM - - - 45

13.4. SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE - - - - - 45



13.0 TOPIC: THEMATIC AND STYLISTIC ANALYSES OF OSWALD M. MTSHALI’S POEM


    1. INTRODUCTION:

The East African poet Oswald Mstshali’s poem will be analysed thematically and stylistically.

    1. OBJECTIVES

By the end of the lecture you should b e able to : i. Discuss the theme of the poem.

ii. Identify the poetic techniques employed.




    1. IN-TEXT

      1. Just a passer by


Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali

Oswald M. Mitshali is one of black South Africa’s most talented poet. He was born in Natal and was a victim of the apartheid system which denied him admission into the University of Witwatersrand. But this did not dampen his desire for literary progress as he published his first volume of poems titled Sounds of the Cowhide Drum, which established him as a significant poet.

Mitshali’s poems are about the people and their life in a hostile society which he is part of. The theme of survival in a defiant and hostile society runs through a number of his poems. The quiet control and the colloquial tone is noticed when the poet writes of his peoples’ sufferings. There is no venom of hatred expressed but most of the themes are conveyed through distilled lyrical verses and ironic humour. Similarly, irony and cynicism are the main characteristic features of his poetry as can be seen in the poem below.
13.3.2. Just a passer by

I saw them clobber him with kieries

I heard him scream with pain

like a victim of slaughter;

I smelt fresh blood gush

from his nostrils,

and flow in the street.

I walked into the church

and knelt in the pew

“ Lord I love you.

I also love my neighbour. Amen.”

I came out

my heart as light as an angle’s kiss

on the cheek of a saintly soul.

Back home I strutted

past a crowd of onlookers.

Then she came in –

My woman neighbour :

“ Have you heard ? “They’ve killed your brother.”

“ O! No! I heard nothing. I’ve been to church.”


13.3.3 THEME AND STYLE IN THE POEM

This is a very ironic and sarcastic piece of poetry through which the poet expresses the helpless condition of many blacks in apartheid South Africa. The poem incorporates a number of themes besides describing the gruesome incident of a brother beings ‘clobbered’ while he (the poet) passes on by without rendering any help. The poet draws an ironic parallel with parable of the Good Samaritan. The religion of the whites (Christianity) that preachers to be your brother’s keeper is in itself, the root cause of violence. But the irony of what the poet considers an escapist religion is that the poet instead of helping his brother from ticklers goes instead to the church to pray for the brothers’ soul. The poem is indicative of the height of violence and the helplessness of the people in the society the poet lives in.


13.4 SELF- ASSESSEMENT EXERCISE:

  1. What picture of the society does the poet paint in the poem?

  2. How does the religious imagery in the poem help to express the situation in apartheid South Africa?


REFERENCES / SUGGESSTED READING

Adeko, Adeleke (1999) “Theory and Practice of African Orature.” Research in African Literature, Vol.30, No.2, pp.222-227.

Ajayi Ademola, S. (2005) African Culture & Civilization. Ibadan; Atlantic Books

Aiyejina Funso (1988) “Resent Nigerian Poetry in English: An Alter-Native Tradition” in Perspectives on Nigerian Literature 1700 to the Present. Vol. One Lagos: Guardian Books Nigeria (Ltd).

Amuta, C. (1989) The Theory of African Literature: Implications for Practical Criticism

London: Zed Books

Bondunde, Charles (2001) Oral Traditions and Aesthetic Transfer: Creativity and Social Vision in Contemporary Black Poetry, Bayreuth African Studies Series, 58. Bayreuth; Bayreuth University.

Chukwukere, B.I. (1992) African Literature Today, 12 New Writing, New Approaches. Books, London, Heinemann Educational, pp.16-24.

Gogura,S.M.& Agukwe,E.L. (ed) (2000) Issues and Trends in Language and Literature Teaching For Nigerian Colleges Yola, Paaraclete Publishing Publishers.

Heywood, Christopher, ed. (!989) Perspectives On African Literature. London ; Heinemann Educational Books

Jones, O. Eldred & Narjorie Jones (ed) (1996)New Trends and Generations in African

Literature , No.20, London: James Curry Ltd. pp.1-8

King, Bruce. (1975 ) A Celebration of Black and African Writing: Oxford University Press.

Nwankwo, Chika (1990) “The Oral Foundations of Nigerian Written Poetry”. Literature and Black Aesthetic, Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books (Nig) Ltd. vol.5, pp.315-327.

Nwoga, I.Donatus (1979) Modern African Poetry: The Domestication of a Tradition. African Literature Today, Retrospect and Prospect, No.10, New York: Africana Publishing Company. pp.32-56.

_______________ (1986) West-African Verse: An Anthology, Lagos Academy Press Ltd.

Obasi, Usha (1998) Teaching of Poetry in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions, Ganga, Journal of Language & Literature, Unimaid,Vol.4, pp.37-48.

(2007)Aspects of the Study of English Poetry: A Case for Poetry Teaching in Schools (2006) – Educational Forum: A Journal of Educational Studies, Vol.9,No.1 Maiduguri, Faculty of Education.

Ogede, S. Ode (1996) “New Trends and Generations.” African Literature Today, No.20, London: James Currey Ltd. pp.62-72.

Ogunbiyi, Yemi (1988) Perspectives on Nigerian Literature 1700 to the Present, Vol.I&2 Lagos: Guardian Books (Nig) Ltd.

Ogungbesan, K. ed. (1981) “New West African Literature”, World Literature Written in English WLWE), Vol.20, No.1, pp.71-74.

Ohaeto-Ezenwa (1991) “Dimensions of Language in New Nigerian Poetry”, African Literature Today, No. 17.
(1996) “Survival Strategies and the New Life of Orality in Nigerian and Ghanaian Poetry” Research in African Literature, Vol.27, No.2, pp.52-70.

Ojaide, Tanure & Joseph Obi (2002) Culture, Society and Politics in Modern African Literature: Texts and Contexts. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

Okafor A. Clement (1989)“Oral Literature and National Consciousness: Lessons for Modern Nigeria.” EE Vol.4, Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books (Nig) Ltd. pp.97-105.

Okpewho, Isidore1988) “African Poetry. The Modern Writer and the Oral Tradition.” African Literature Today, No.16, pp.3-25.

_______________ (1988)“Oral and Written Poetry.” African Literature Today, No.16, pp.3-25.

Senanu, K.E. & Vincent T. (1999) A Selection of African Poetry (New Edition),

Longman Group Ltd.

Umeh, Patrick Okechukwu (19991) Poetry and Social Reality: The Nigerian Experience. Onitsa, Bemax publishers Limited.

Wright, Edgar (1981) The Critical Evaluation of African Literature. London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.

SOLUTIONS TO EXERCISES
TOPIC : 3 LEOPOLD S. SENGHOR


  1. Examples of similes and metaphors

    1. Your name is mild like cinnamon (simile)

    2. … Your name is the sugared clarity (metaphor)

The simile and metaphors used express the poet’s deep love for Naett.


  1. Naett in the poem is used to symbolize not just the beauty of the African woman, but to also symbolize the whole of African as a beautiful black continent.



TOPIC : 4 GABRIEL I. OKARA

(1) He compares the beauty of the sunlight to love and peace.

(2) Man should not let negative external influences distort and destabilize the inner purity of man’s heart.
TOPIC: 5 DENNIS BRUTUS

1) a) The poet communicates the inhuman and excruciating

treatment the blacks suffer under the obnoxious apartheid regime.

b) using the sun as symbolic of hope and rejuvenation, the poet is optimistic that nature will have a solution to man’s in humanity to man.

2. The English sonnet usually has 14 lines with the rhyme scheme of ab, ab, cd, cd, ef, ef, and gg. While Brutus’ poem is also made up of 14 linen but is broken up into verses and has the rhyme scheme a, b, c, d, e, f, e, g, h, i,i.
TOPIC: 6 DAVID DIOP


  1. The lines…. The sun and the stars are shaping out rhythmic brother hood of all peoples.

These lines clearly indicate the poets’ faith in nature’s soothing powers

  1. (a) There is the use of personification in the following expressions:

i) Manly tempest

ii) Seasons… Will see the enactment of triumphant exploits.

The use of ‘manly’ gives human attributes to ‘tempest’ an inanimate phenomenon.

‘Seasons’ a natural phenomenon is attributed with human traits of triumph and exploits.


TOPIC : 7 KWESI BREW

    1. The poet seams to be implying that despite all the numerous activities one engages in , one cannot live forever. We are born we grow and then die, just like the seasons that keep changing, life changes too. It is this changing and transient nature of man’s life on earth is what the poet expresses in the poem.

    2. Examples of onomatopoeia are:



      1. The wind blows down the leaves .

when one reads the above line. One not only can imagine dry leaves being below, we can also hear the sound of the dry leaves.

      1. The hawk will flutter…

the flapping and cluttering sounds of the hawks feathers can be imagined

      1. The year is withering

The year is given a animate attribute of aging or growing old:

      1. Over hear the secret of the cold dry wind.

The cold dry wind, a natural phenomenon, is given human attributes of whispering secrets.
TOPIC : 8 DAVID RUBADIRI

          1. You need to give your own description

          2. Examples of personification:

i. Pregnant cloud

Examples of similes:

ii. like a plague of locust

Like a mad man chasing nothing

Example of onomatopoeia


  1. The wind whistles

ii. Rumble, tremble and crack.
TOPIC : 9 CHRISTOPHER OKIGBO
1) the poet expresses his fear and apprehension of what destruction

and havoc would be caused to human lives and property at the event of a civil war. It seem that the poet is warning warring parties that there seams to be an impending doom hanging over the country that threatens to destroy the country.

2) The drowsy heads of the pods in barren farmlands.


  1. Drowsy heads of pods.

The pods are made to nod their heads like human beings do.

ii) The myriad eyes of deserted corncobs

The corn seeds on the cob are described as seeming to be like human eyes.

The above two are examples of personification

iii) Images of hectic activities are contrasted with images of death and destruction.
TOPIC: 10 WOLE SOYINKA


  1. Abiku in Soyinka’s poem is both defiant and heartless. It seams to be telling the distraught mothers that all then rituals will not be effective annoyed to break the but death cyclic chain and its reign of terror.

  2. I) I am the squirrel teeth- metaphor

  3. ii) god’s swollen foot is a symbol of a grave mound


TOPIC: 11 JOHN PEPPER CLARK

  1. While Clark pleads with the myth child to spare the torture of repeated births and deaths, Soyinka presents Abiku as a stubborn, restless and capricious spirit who is defiant and least sympathetic towards the suffering mother.

  2. A number of alliterations such as :

several seasons ; through the thatch, fresh fish.
TOPIC: 12 AGUTINHO NETO

1) The despairing and desperate urban ghetto life full of anxiety and fear imposed by colonialism is portrayed in the poem.



2) dark quarters ,worlds of misery , unknown streets crowded /with mystery and terror etc.
TOPIC: 13 OSWALD M. MTSHALI

  1. A grim, oppressed and greatly tortured black community, suffering physical emotional and psychological trauma under the oppressive apartheid government.

  2. The imposed religion of Christianity is painted as false and irrelevant, as it preaches of love and peace but propagates hatred ,violence and discrimination in inhuman magnitudes.


TUTOR MARKED EXERCISE


  1. What characteristic features differentiate Modern poets from the Pioneer poets?

  2. Name and write briefly on any thee Modern Africans poets.

  3. What are the thematic preoccupations of Modern Africans poets?

  4. What kind of poetic techniques do Modern African poets employ in their poetry?

  5. Selecting any one poem studied, explain the influence of the socio – political situation has had on the poems of the poet concerned.



1 Futa: a kingdom in the 18th century. The capital is Futa Djallong.



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