Poems-in the Shadow of Signal Hill

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In the Shadow of Signal Hill

Signal Hill is a strikingly shaped hill or small peak overlooking the harbour of Cape Town. It has been used as a lookout post since the early days of the Cape colony. From it, the viewer can see Robben Island, the bare scar where the suburb of District Si stood before its occupants were evicted and its buildings demolished and Langa, a black township on the outskirts of suburban Cape Town.

The overall significance of the title of the poem is that “Signal Hill” represents the higher, white authority or white government of the Apartheid era. The fact that it is a hill implies how the white government saw themselves as the superior party, the party that was raised above the nation they control. The part “in the shadow” of Signal Hill represents the black people who suffered under the Apartheid regime. They were the people who had to live in the shadows of the white government. The government overshadowed their whole lives and basically made their choices for them.

The word “shadow” also bears a connotation of fear in general. When one looks at children’s books, one will notice that the antagonist in the stories would be a “shadowy figure”. Therefore the “Shadow of Signal Hill” suggests the white government is the antagonist in terms of them being wrong in what they are doing – which is initiating Apartheid in South Africa.

1. in the howling wind

2. by the murky waters

3. of the sea
a cold, unpleasant atmosphere is created.
Metaphor: howling wind might refer to the cries of the black people, their pleads for freedom and equality.

4. children of colour – refers to coloureds, Asians, black people and all others who suffered under the Apartheid regime.

5. gather shells

6. and hold them to their ears

7. and listen to the lamentations of slaves – cries/ weeping of the slaves. “lamentations” connects with “howling wind” which emphasises the suffering of the black and...
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