Traditionally, oral poetry was produced by specialized, trained poets who were connected to kings, chiefs, spiritual figures, or secret societies. In addition, certain groups, such as hunters, farmers, cattle herders, and warriors, had designated poets. Oral poets were often descended from family lineages. A large body of oral poems from Africa has been recorded, translated, and published. Traditional oral poets recited in indigenous languages, such as Hausa, Yoruba, Ewe, Kongo, Igbo, Mandika, Fulani, Wolof, Zulu, Tswana, Gikuyu, and Swahili. Performance artistry—memorization, improvisation, and gesture—and audience response are part of the oral presentation, which has social and cultural significance. The oral poet who recites well-known pieces can introduce self-inspired innovations.
Used to honor and criticize, the most widely discussed form of oral poetry is the praise poem, generally associated with royal courts but also applicable to other social strata. Praise poetry is designated by such names as oriki (Yoruba), maboko (Tswana), izibongo (Zulu), and ijala, poetry of professional Yoruba hunters. Among the Akan, women are known for their proficiency in the funeral dirge. Usually, the praise poem of the court poet rendered historical lineage and stressed positive characteristics, but a poem of this nature could also remind the celebrated figure of responsibilities to the community. A “freelance” oral poet can offer praise and possibly criticism of individuals of lesser status. There are a number of names for oral poets: griot (Mandinka), kwadwumfo (Asante), imbongi (southern Africa), azmaris (Ethiopia), and umusizi (central Africa). The umusizi of Rwanda recited at ceremonial occasions such as births, initiations, and funerals. The spiritual role of certain oral poets is exemplified by the Yoruba babalawo, whose verse is distinctly musical. Yoruba Ifa divination, associated with the Ifa oracle, is expressed in verses. Among the forms of oral poetry, which can be accompanied by drums and stringed instruments, are elegies, lyrics, political pieces, and children’s songs. In addition, such African epics as Sundjata (Gambia) and The Epic of Liyongo (Kenya) display oral influences. Though the authorship of older oral poetry is often unknown, certain individuals have been recognized, such as the eighteenth century Somali poet Ugaas Raage.
The poem ‘The Vultures’ by David Diop explores the British colonisation of South Africa and its ramifications. Diop articulates the inhumane actions of men that have resulted in the inevitable exploitations of native Africans. He conveys this through the utilisation of the symbolism in “the vultures built in the shadow of their claws”, where vultures are symbolic of the prejudicial discrimination the natives have been subjected to. The harsh reality of post colonisation is further demonstrated in the line ‘Laughter gasped its last in the metallic hell of roads’ where the use of the symbolism ‘metallic hell of roads’, depicts a country where weapons and guns congest up the country, supressing any joy or laughter. The repetition of ‘in that time’, Diop is reminiscing of the past, placing emphasis on his desire to return back to the times prior to the British Colonisation.
Through this poem, Diop presents a reflection of disparity with imperialism and a yearning for Africa to become independent. Furthermore, Dan Harrison’s newspaper article ‘Tweet and sour: MP in spat with aboriginal woman on colonisation’ is commentary on the inevitable loss of the Aboriginals, the British colonisation has forced upon. Through the quotation, ”Do I snap my fingers and forget 213 years of oppression Mr Jensen?”, the use of rhetorical questioning conveys emotions of anger and feeling cheated through the seriousness and satire. Moreover, the book cover of ‘Terror and the Postcolonial’ by Elleke Boehment and Stephen Morton visually depicts the effect of post colonialism through the utilisation of visual devices.
Boehment and Morton’s use of the black and white in the illustrations represents the absence of cultural presence and the dehumanised life of the Native Africans. The incorporation of what appears to be white smoke or an explosion is an indication of a chaotic pandemonium, suggesting a negative impact of what may occur with a colonisation. In conclusion, through the exploration of the three texts a negative connotation of post colonialism has been reflected especially the human aspect where natives were socially, politically and economically affected.
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