Home BOOKS ANALYSIS GROWING UP WITH AFRICAN POETRY

GROWING UP WITH AFRICAN POETRY

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POEM 1

POEM: LULLABY

POET: AKAN

A member of a people who live in Southern Ghana.

Lullaby

Someone would like to have you for her child

but you are mine.

Someone would like to rear you on a costly mat

but you are mine.

Someone would like to place you on a camel blanket

but you are mine.

I have to rear you on a torn old mat.

Someone would like to have you as her child

but you re mine.

 

NB:

Lullaby is a soft gentle song sung to make a child go to sleep.

GUIDING QUESTIONS:

Qn 1. What is the poem all about?

Answ: The poem is all about the intense feelings of affection of a mother for her child. She loves her child so much that is why she takes care of it (the kid).

Qn 2. Who is talking in the poem?

Answ: The person talking in the poem is a mother (a parent of a child). She is actually the one who sings this beautiful song to her child in order to make the it go to sleep.

Qn 3. Who is the addressee of the poem?

Answ: The addressee of the poem is a child who is being taken care of by its mother. The child is actually the one to whom the song is sung to.

Qn 4. Is the poem relevant to your society?

Answ: The poem is very relevant to my society because even in my society there are parents with true love to their children and provide them with basic needs.

Qn 5. What is the tone of the poem?

Answ: The tone of the poem is happy and exciting. The persona is very happy and excited as she is shown using a beautiful language when singing this son to her child.

Qn 6. What is the mood of the poem?

Answ: The mood of the poem is happy. It makes us feel happy when we realize that we are both loved and taken care of by our parents.

Qn 7. What kind of a poem is this?

Answ: This is a lyric poem (Song) as it is both very short and expresses serious personal feelings of love (affection) of a mother to her child.

Qn 8. Comment on the use of figures of speech and musical devices.

Answ:  Figure of speech.

-Symbolism. Eg. Costly mat and “camel blanket” symbolizes the richness while the word “torn old mat” symbolizes the extent of poverty of the persona.

Musical devices.

-Parallelism. E.g.   Someone would like to have you for her child

                           Someone would like to rear you on a costly mat

                         Someone would like to place you on a camel blanket

Qn 9. Why do you think the poem repeats the same phrases?

Answ: The poem repeats the same phrases for emphasis. It shows how great the extent of a true love of a mother for her child is.

Qn 10. What are the themes found in this poem?

Answ: The themes found in this poem are true love, poverty and the position of woman in the society.

{i} True love.

The term love refers to an intense feeling of deep affection. There is true love in this poem between a mother and her child. Despite the mother being poor, she loves her child very much as she is seen taking care of it.

{ii} Poverty.   This is also another theme of this poem; the persona seems to be a poor person that is why she fails to rear her child on a costly old mat or on a camel blanket. Because of her poverty, she only manages to rear her child on a torn old mat. Consider the following verse from the poem for evidence.

“….I have to rear you on a torn old mat”

{iii} Position of woman in the society.  The poet of this poem portrays a woman in a positive way; the woman is shown as a caring mother having a true love for her child. This is very contrary to some other types of contemporary women who reach a point of killing their new-borns (infants) through abortion or throwing them in pit latrines or just leaving them into disposal areas.

POEM 2

POEM: A FREEDOM SONG

POET: MARJORIE OLUDHE MACGOYE

She was born in England in 1928. She went to Kenya in 1954 and worked with the C.M.C Bookshop in Nairobi, where she got married. She is publisher’s representative in Nairobi.

A freedom song

Atieno washes dishes,

Atieno plucks the chicken,

Atieno gets up early,

beds her sacks down in the kitchen,

Atieno eight years old

Atieno yo.

 

Since she is my sister’s child

Atieno needs no pay

While she works my wife can sit

Sewing every sunny day,

With her earnings I support

     Atieno yo.

 

Atieno’s sly and jealous

Bad example to the kids

Since she minds them, like a school girl

Wants their dresses, shoes and beads.

Atieno ten years old,

Atieno yo.

 

Now my wife has gone to study

Atieno is less free,

Don’t I keep her, school my own ones,

Pay the party, union fee

All for progress? Aren’t you grateful,

Atieno yo.

 

Visitors need much attention,

All the more when I work nights.

That girl spends too long at market

Who will teach her what is right?

Atieno rising fourteen,

     Atieno yo.

 

Atieno’s had a baby

So we know that she is not barren

Fifty-fifty it may live

To repeat the life she had,

ending in post partum bleeding

Atieno yo.

 

Atieno’s soon replaced

Meat and sugar more than all

She ate in such a narrow life

Were lavished on her funeral

Atieno’s gone glory

Atieno yo.

GUIDING QUESTIONS:

Qn 1. What is the poem all about?

Answ: The poem is all about the mistreatment of a young child called Atieno by her blood uncle. Generally, the poem explores ideas of freedom in relation to children.

Qn 2. Who is the person speaking in this poem?

Answ: The person speaking in this poem is Atieno’s uncle. Consider the following verse from the poem:         “Since she is my sister’s child……”

Qn 3. What is the tone of the poem?

Answ: The tone of the poem is sympathetic to the girl but ironical at the same time. It is ironical in a sense that the uncle pretends to be very sorry for Atieno while he is in fact the one torturing her.

Qn 4. What is the mood of the poem?

Answ: The mood of the poem is sympathetic to the girl on one hand but it also makes us feel disgusted with Uncle’s behaviour of torturing the little girl on the other.

Qn 5. Where do you think the setting of this poem might be?

Answ: The setting of the poem is in Atieno’s Uncle’s house. Most of the events happening in this poem take place inside the Uncle’s house.

Qn 6. What kind of a poem is this?

Answ: This poem is a narrative poem. The poetess is telling us a story of Atieno from when she was living with her Uncle, and then she got pregnancy up to the end of her life.

Qn 7. Why do you think the poem is called “A freedom song” Whose freedom is it about?

Answ: The poem is called “A freedom song” as it is meant to free children from all sorts of mistreatment. Children have to be free from humiliation, exploitation and should be free to get education.

Qn 8. Comment on the musical devices used in the poem.

Answ:

(a) Rhymes

-The word “kitchen rhymes with chicken

-The word “pay rhymes with “day  so do “kids and “beads

-The word “free rhymes with “fee  so do “night and “right

(b) Refrain.

Atieno yo.

Qn 9. Discuss the themes found in the poem.

The themes found in this poem are child labour, humiliation, exploitation, segregation and hypocrisy.

{i} Child labour

There is a question of child labour discussed in this poem. For example in the first stanza, Atieno is burdened with a house chore at her Uncle’s home when she is just eight years old while there are other grown- ups like the aunt who just watch her being busy with house activities and not assisting her.

{ii} Humiliation.

This is another theme found in this poem, from the poem Atieno is humiliated by her uncle’s family, despite working very hard for them, Atieno sleeps in the kitchen with sacks as her beddings and floor as a bed.

{iii} Exploitation.

Exploitation can be defined as the misuse of human resources without paying proper benefit for it. In this poem Atieno is exploited by her blood uncle, she works hard for him but being paid nothing, as this is not enough, whatever Atieno gets from her work (sewing) the uncle also shows the interests in her earnings.

{iv} Segregation

This is also another theme found in this poem, Atieno is badly treated by the members of her uncle’s family, Atieno is segregated as she does not sleep with the rest of her Uncle’s family, she is also segregated by not being sent to school as other children although her age allows her to be at school.

{v} Hypocrisy.

This refers to that practice in which a person pretends to be different from what he or she really is, because he or she wishes to appear to be a better person. This is shown from this poem in the last stanza. During Atieno’s funeral, the uncle prepares a huge feast for the mourners to show that he is so much concerned (very touched by Atieno’s death) while in reality, he is the one responsible in one way or another for her death.

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