Book Review: A Poet’s Hope for Africa

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Each poem tells a story and each story is linked to the last poem you read. Through his poems, the poet highlights the ills of society while advocating for a healthier society.

Globalization has broken down borders and united us by placing a dominant culture over a less superior culture through mass media, super-fast transportation and the collapse of physical borders.

However, poetry has a way of encapsulating all of this and providing salient answers. Poetry is an ocean, a rimless belly that contains answers to all things.

A Ray of Hope contains 18 poems of different genres.

Looking through the collection, one would find simple, narrative poems with an overall tone of activism. Although not entirely a protest piece, this collection boasts of poems that reflect the current socio-cultural temperament of Africa.

“A Long Walk from Home” is a three-stanza poem and social commentary on migration or other forms of cultural dislocation. The poet’s voice in the poem seems to cry “repatriation”. Through the metallic birds, the poet refers to stolen treasures; the carvings stolen from Nigeria during the British invasion of the Kingdom of Benin.

“A Tale of the Salt” tells a simple story of a poorly trained bride on how to add salt to taste. The simple story teaches the moral virtue of moderation. It could also be a metaphor for the extra effort women put into their lives to look beautiful or to be independent. A little too much effort can easily turn an independent woman into a narcissist or a pretty woman into a surgical Barbie.

The poem, titled “Silence,” compares the dumb and the mute. “Mute” refers to those born without the ability to speak, while “dumb” refers to those who have been silenced by oppressive regimes or structures.

The silence of the latter in the face of tyranny is assimilated to the mute.

“Voiceless”, a poem dedicated to the African continent, highlights the slow development in Africa. The black continent is personified and encouraged to express itself in order to be heard. With “There are no more chains around your neck”, the poet refers to the era of transatlantic trade and how the freedom of Africans was taken away during colonial rule.

The poet’s point is debatable as many philosophers have blamed the Western world for the long term devastation of the Dark Continent under the colonial structures that had been erected in the African psyche.

A good example is Walter Rodney’s book ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’. Rodney argues that a combination of power politics and economic exploitation of Africa by Europeans led to the poor state of Africa’s political and economic development evident in the late 20th century, but he has nonetheless recommended that Africa dismantles the capitalist structure to develop.

Another writer who shared this sentiment is Frank Fanon in the book “Les Miserables of the Earth”.

The author provides a psychological and psychiatric analysis of the dehumanizing effects of colonization on the individual and the nation and discusses the broader social, cultural and political implications of establishing a social movement for the decolonization of a person and of a people.

Despite all the references to sad developments in Africa, the poet maintains a hopeful stance at the end of each piece of poetry in the collection.

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