Not My Business

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English Coursework
Saturday, September 25, 2010
2:34 PM
The poem 'Not my business' is about a person who tries to remain detached of the recurring violence caused by the military and does not care about others’ suffering as long as he is not affected. It is a dramatic monologue by the Nigerian Niyi Osundare who uses the narrator to convey his opinion that injustice should push people to unite and fight against together. It is supposed to mirror the Nigerian society but can be applied to any part of the world where people refuse to rise up against injustices. In this poem, the poet has used a narrator to convey his opinion towards the socio-political environment. The narrator's tone in this poem is selfishly unconcerned about his friends’ and neighbors’ suffering and oppression as long as his life is unaffected, thus reflecting the title 'Not my business'. Ironically, despite his belief that if he does not involve himself in these tragedies he will not be affected, he himself is taken away at the end of the poem.  

The poet conveys his feelings towards the socio-political environment through Akanni's arrest. 'They picked Akanni up one morning’. In this opening sentence, the military are deliberately depersonalized through the vague use of the word ‘They’, because a mysterious and potent force is much more ominous and menacing than a known one. Furthermore the narrator’s emotionless and detached tone is obvious from the very start. He converses casually as if he is talking about something inconsequential such as the weather which draws an angry response from the audience reflecting the poet’s own feelings.

The poet presents the narrator’s beliefs as disgusting and repulsive in the refrain in an attempt to dissuade people from becoming like him. The narrator does not care about other people ‘so long as they don’t take the yam from my savoring mouth?’ The yam symbolizes the narrator’s life and the fact that he doesn’t care about other people’s suffering as long as he can enjoy his life. Also the word ‘savor’ suggests that the narrator is selfish and greedy. The poet does this to discourage people from becoming like the narrator, it is also a call for them to unite and work together to end injustice and oppression.

Niyi Osundare expresses his views on the socio-political situation through the dismissal of Chinwe. She went to work ‘only to find her job gone, no query, no warning, no probe’. The fact that people are unsafe even in their jobs cements the fear of them (the military) because their menacing tactics extend to more than just violence. Anyone who opposes them or speaks out will be punished. Also, the lack of procedure in dismissing an employee further highlights the oppressive nature of the military as they take people’s rights without even trying to justify themselves. This is underlined by the repetition of the word ‘no’ three times. Furthermore, the fact that Chinwe’s job is gone further emphasizes the military’s cold and merciless nature as she will have no way of supporting herself again emphasizing that we should unite and fight against tyranny and oppression.

The poet conveys his opinions on the socio-political situation through his description of the narrator’s end. The narrator ‘sat down to eat yam, a knock on the door froze my hungry hand; the jeep was waiting on my bewildered lawn, waiting, waiting in its usual silence’. The ending is ironic as the narrator believed that as long as he stayed detached from everything; his life would not get affected. However, this is not the case which is revealed by the description of the lawn as ‘bewildered’ as an echo of his own surprised feelings that the military have come for him. Furthermore, the repetition of the word ‘waiting’ is used deliberately to create tension and reminds us of the predatory and beast-like jeep in the first stanza.

The poem 'Nothing's changed' which is set in post-apartheid South Africa also shows how oppression and...
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