Saturday, 11 July 2015

This post tends to point at few themes in the Kofi Awoonor's "The Anvil And The Hammer"; in order to get larger discussion about the poem [check complete analysis of the anvil and the hammer by kofi awoonor]

"Caught between the anvil and the hammer
In the forging house of a new life,
Transforming the pangs that delivered me
Into the joy of new songs
The trapping of the past, tender and tenuous
Woven with fibre of sisal and
Washed in the blood of the goat in the fetish hut
Are laced with the flimsy glories of paved streets
The jargon of a new dialectic comes with the
Charisma of the perpetual search on the outlaw’s ..." is a two stanza poem with a political setting.

Simple languages and imageries of the poem help the symbolisms embedded within. The candid tone of the poem speaker proved a feeling of triumph.

Let's take this moment to enjoy the Theme of Cultural Contrast (which can also be called Clash of
Culture or Cultural Disparity or Conflict of Culture or any other name used to refer to the mixture of two different lifestyles). Like the poem "Piano And Drums" by Gabriel Okara, the persona in the poem "The Anvil and The Hammer" by Kofi Awoonor experienced two different ways of life (the African and the Western) which he puts thus in line 1-2:
"Caught between the anvil and the hammer
In the forging house of a new life"

The impact or implication of the contrast led to the poem's title "The Anvil And The Hammer" because they are instrument for creation. With the use of symbolism, where the words "anvil" and "hammer" are made to symbolize both African believe system and Non-African believe system, the voice in the poem shows that the contrasting cultures have reshaped or remolded him; it is not a surprise that the line 3 begins with the word "transforming".

The poem also has the Theme of Cultural Colonization. The act of colonization in Africa went beyond commercial exploitation; if silently examined, such act has an everlasting effect on Africa and Africans in general. Even long after colonization the culture of the colonial masters remains indelible in Africa and can never be wiped since it has been sown a "new garment" called civilization. The poem speaker referred metaphorically to the embraced new culture in line 2 as "a new life" and in line 9 "The jargon of a new dialectic". Because the poem speaker could not find a wayout of his cultural colonization, he resigned to the adoption of the past in present.

The theme of Adoption of Past In Present (rediscovery). In the poem "The Anvil And The Hammer" by Kofi Awoonor who died in the year 2013 at the age seventy eight, one can clearly see that the theme of the adoption of past in present revealed how undeniable the past was in the new life of the poem speaker to the extent he urged his ancestors in the opening line of stanza 2: "Sew the old days for us, our fathers/ That we can wear them under our new garment/ After we have washed ourselves in/ The whirlpools of many rivers' estuary".
The theme of Past in Present shows that Kofi Awoonor in this poem followed the opinion of Dennis Osadebay who in his poem titled "Young Africa's Plea" believed the merger of both cultures would make him a better man:
"Let me play with the white man's ways
Let me work with the black man's brains
Let my affairs themselves sort out
Then in sweet rebirth
I'll rise a better man"
(extracted from the poem "Young Africa's Plea" by Dennis Osadebay)


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  • compare-and-contrast-piano-and-drums-by-gabriel-okara-with-the-anvil-and-the-hammer-by-kofi-awoonor
  • analysis-of-the-cathedral-by-kofi-awoonor
  • song-of-sorrow-1-and-2-by-kofi-awoonor-imagery


Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo in the sky high)


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