Africa by Revolutionary African Poet, David Mandessi Diop

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Africa, by David Diop
David Mandessi Diop (19271960) was a revolutionary African poet born in France but with parents of West African descent. His poems highlighted problems of Africa brought about by colonialism and gave a message to Africans to bring about change and freedom. He was known for his involvement in the negritude movement in France, a movement started by Black writers and artists protesting against French colonialism and its effects of African culture and values. His views and feelings were published in "Presence Africaine" and in his book of poems "Coups de pillon" which was published in 1956. Diop died at the age of 33 in a plane crash.

Africa my Africa
Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs
Africa of whom my grandmother sings
On the banks of the distant river

The poem starts by Diop reminiscing about Africa, a land he has not seen but only heard about from his grandmother's songs. His choice of words like "distant" symbolise how far he is from his country, a feeling based on his real life as he lived in France throughout his childhood and only visited Africa in the 1950s. Despite this, he paints a vivid scene of Africa and the proud warriors who walk on its "ancestral savannahs" You can sense how much he misses his homeland by his stress on the word Africa, and he continues to call it "My Africa" to emphasise it is his land and his feelings of patriotism towards it.

I have never known you
But your blood flows in my veins
Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields
The blood of your sweat
The sweat of your work
The work of your slavery

He continues to say that he has never known Africa, but despite the distance he cannot deny how much it is a part of him. The "beautiful black blood" which flows in his veins describes his African descent and shows how much Africa is a part of him and his love for it and its people. The next verses are angry and accusatory as he stresses that it is the blood and sweat of his people which is irrigating the fields for the benefit of other people. By this he is pointing a finger at the colonialists who exploited Black people and used them as slaves to profit from their hard labour. Africa, tell me Africa

Is this your back that is unbent
This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation
This back trembling with red scars
And saying no to the whip under the midday sun.
In these verses he urges the Black people to stand up to the pain and the humiliation that they are suffering in their own land. He reminds them of the strength

Telephone Conversation by Wole Soyinka

Nigerian poet Wole Soyinka uses irony to depict the absurdity of racism in his poem, "Telephone Conversation.


the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning: the irony of her reply, "How nice!" when I said I had to work all weekend.

a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.

(esp. in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., esp. as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.

Irony, sarcasm, satire indicate mockery of something or someone. The essential feature of irony is the indirect presentation of a contradiction between an action or expression and the context in which it occurs.

In the figure of speech, emphasis is placed on the opposition between the literal and intended meaning of a statement; one thing is said and its opposite implied, as in the comment, "Beautiful weather, isn't it?" made when it is raining or nasty.

Irony differs from sarcasm in greater subtlety and wit.

In sarcasm ridicule or mockery is used harshly, often crudely and contemptuously, for destructive purposes. It may be used in an indirect manner, and have the form of irony, as in "What a...
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