Cheney-Coker picked his pen and paper to write about how Africans are trying, in every form, to change their African color and race to something else. 

As a wise African poet, he began his poetry by showering praises on Africa while accepting the fact that he had been far away from home like the biblical prodigal son by comparing himself to a wandering Fulani cow:
"Africa I have long away from you
wandering like a Fulani cow
but every night
amidst the horrors of highway deaths
and the menace of neon-eyed gods
I feel the warmth of your arms
centrifugal mother reaching out to
your sons
but all calling you mother womb of
the earth" (from line 1-8).

From line 9, Sly Cheney-Coker generalized that Africans were living with differences_ not excluding himself. Though he didn't condemn civilisation but he felt it was part of the sins, Africans had committed. 

Part of the things he complained about were that he had been fond of travelling out of Africa, African ladies and women were bleaching their black skins to white, black African men were not living the African way; he put it like this "and I think of my brothers with ”black skin and white masks” ( I myself am one heh heh heh)". 

The poet's heart was so heavy because he could not describe Africa, the African way:
" my heart becomes a citadel of disgust
and I am unable to write the poem of your life
my creation haunts me behind the mythical dream
my river dammed by the poisonous weeds in its bed".

If you do not understand the structure of this poem "Freetown" by Sly Cheney-Coker, then let me try and table it based on my own understanding. 

The poem is not broken into stanzas, it has simple dictions with more of enjambments, the setting is Freetown, as suggested by the title of the poem and the context. 

Figuratives in the poem; the phrase "Black Englishman" is a sarcastic oxymoron, African is personification and metaphor in the poem: "I feel the warmth of your arms/ centrifugal mother reaching out to your sons/ but all calling you mother womb of the earth", "this third anniversary of my flight" symbolized travelling in airplane, "citadel of disgust" is a metaphor used by the poet to compare the feeling in his heart, "shadow of Freetown" is a metaphor as well, ( I myself am one heh heh heh) "heh heh heh" is an onomatopoeia which means laughter.

Looking at the poem, the following themes are evident:
(1) Africans and civilisation
(2) Devaluation of the African black skin

In many African poetry, the issue of Africanism and Civilisation is very common and it is no surprise that such exist in this poem. 

Sly Coker was so concerned with the way Africans are embracing civilisation far more than their own culture. 

He also stated in the poem that they were not satisfied with having a black skin.

Syl Cheney-Coker is a poet, novelist, and journalist from Freetown, Sierra Leone; he was born on 28 June 1945. 

He spent much of his life in exile from his native country, and wrote extensively (in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction) about the condition of exile and the view of Africa from an African abroad.


Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)


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