A Far Cry from Africa Summary
“A Far Cry from Africa” talks about the events of the Mau Uprising in Kenya in the early 1950s. In the mid-twentieth century, British colonialism was a blurring but at the same time, it was an intense power on the earth. In the African country of Kenya, British colonists had settled and acquainted European ideas with the local people: money, tax collection, and land ownership. At the point when the British asked, ”Who possesses this land?” tribal people reacted, ”We do,” and the British assumed that “we” alluded to the tribal government, despite the fact that the land was really owned by individual families.
Since the British were supplanting the tribal government with their own, they then asserted all the land for the sake of the new British government. Naturally, the Kenyan individuals were outraged. Now, rather than owning and cultivating their own land, they were decreased to being workers for the British proprietors. As representatives, they were additionally offended by being paid just a small amount of the sum a British worker got for doing likewise work.
The Kikuyu tribe was the biggest in Kenya, and the most learned. In 1951, some Kikuyu upheavals of violence against the British happened, and in 1952 a mystery Kikuyu society known as the Mau Mau started a war of violence against the British and any Africans who were faithful to them. By October of 1952, the circumstance was so intense that the British got out troops to battle the agitators, and a three-year war followed, during which 11,000 rebel warriors were executed and 80,000 Kikuyu men, ladies, and youngsters were locked up in confinement camps. One hundred Europeans and 2,000 Africans faithful to them were murdered. Afterwards, the leader of the rebellion, Jomo Kenyatta, was chosen prime minister of Kenya when Kenya became independent from Britain in 1963.
In the poem, Walcott presents some graphic images of the conflict and asks how he can be expected to choose one side over the other since he is of both African and European descent. He cannot condone the colonialism of the British, or the violence of the Mau Mau, because choosing either side would mean he is turning against that part of himself.
“A Far Cry from Africa” uses metaphors, such as “colonel of carrion, and ironic statements, such as “corpses are scattered through a paradise” to describe the death and destruction and inhumanity that has occurred in both Africa and Europe. Walcott was privileged to bear both horrible histories as a half-European and half-African. The desire of the full-blooded natives was to look and act like the colonizers. They didn’t have to bear the strain of being genetically comparable to the colonizers, however, and not only being torn between two societies but being “divided to the vein,” Derek Walcott utilizes his genetic hybridity and cultural hybridity to convey the extreme of his unholiness.
Violence and Cruelty:– The wind” ruffling Africa’s tawny pelt” relates to the Mau Mau Uprising that took place in what is now independent Kenya from about October 20, 1952, to January 1960. The White Government called an emergency conference during this period against a secret Kikuyu community that came to be known as Mau Mau and was devoted to overthrowing the White regime. The short-term cruelty of the Mau Mau insurrection erupted against the backdrop of a cruel, long-lasting British colonialism.
STYLE:” A Far Cry from Africa” has four mainly iambic tetrameter stanzas. The poem actually begins in iambic pentameter, the predominant form of poetry published in English, but it quickly veers off course metrically— a shift reflecting the evolving scene and viewpoint in the poem— with lines of differing length and amount of stresses. The use of masculine endings (lines ending with accented vowels) and masculine rhymes (one syllable rhymes) by Walcott is a point of consistency. Rhyme is just as uncommon as a meter. The first stanza’s rhyme scheme could be rendered as ababbcdecd.
When analyzing” A Far Cry from Africa,” most critics comment on the message of the poem and what it shows about the poet, rather than technical elements of its creation. In an essay titled” West Indies II: Walcott, Brathwaite, and Authenticity,” Bruce King comments,” The poem is noteworthy for its emotional complexity” and that it” treats the Mau Mau uprising in terms that mock the usual justifications and criticisms of colonialism.” King notes that the narrator is hit by” confused, irreconcilably opposed feelings:…
In his critical biography of 1993, Derek Walcott, Robert D. Hamner observes,” For Walcott, it is not an easy decision between cultures, but a matter of laying claim to his mixed heritage.” This” mixed heritage,” which the Swedish Academy took on a range of often-paradoxical forms when it awarded Walcott the 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature, known as” the complexity of its own position.” For instance, Walcott is the genetic ancestry of both English and African. In his veins flows the blood of colonizers and colonizers, oppressors and oppressed. Derek Walcott often described himself as a “mongrel;” they were both African grandmothers and they were both European grandfathers. He disliked the English culture but loved the English language and empathized with the Irish because they were the colonization victims as well.
Walcott does not convey all elements of British and African culture in “A Far Cry from Africa,” but focuses solely on the violent history of both. He’s “poisoned with the blood of both,” and he’s torn between a bloodied Africa’s two terrible choices or the England murderer.
A Far Cry From Africa “is the story of a half-African and half-English man who witnesses the death and destruction of his homeland as a result of South Africa’s English colonization. However, in his description, he does not favour one side over the other, but rather focuses on the injustices of both cultures. The narrator shouts at the end of the poem, wondering how to choose between the two. Several elements of this poem demonstrate indications of transculturation. Perhaps the most evident sign to write this poem is the adoption by the narrator of the dominant English language. This element of English culture has, in reality, become such a component of the narrator that he refers to the language as “the English language[ he] loves.”
The narrator’s adoption of derisive European names for uncivilized people to describe the Kikuyu is another sign of transculturation. The narrator likes the Kikuyu “to savages” and a “gorilla,” for instance. The narrator also borrows the phrase, “a waste of our compassion,” from the phrase he characterizes as being British in line six. The narrator demonstrates another sign of transculturation in the last stanza by”[ cursing]/British rule’s drunken officers.” These subtle rejections and adaptations of British imperialism can be discovered throughout the poem, all signs of transculturation.
In the last stanza of Walcott’s poem arises the personal struggle characteristic of this transculturation: