Tuesday, 31 May 2016

As I have said in many of my African poetic analysis that most of the well celebrated African poets share a certain theme in common, which is the initiatory pattern of Africa into westernization; in this wise, their poems are either referring to the African slavery or the encroachment of civilization.

Loser of Everything by David Diop is not an exception. Based on the context of the poem, the poem-speaker speaks of the recollection of his freedom, innocence or liberty; when his hut was worth a palace to him, his loving wives adored him, his children were satisfied and free and skilled out of monotony to swim rivers with dangerous depths. The poem speaker also recollected how his fishing career was not questioned by any authority except common predators (the crocodiles). Their moon dances accompanied by melodious drum beats were part of the pleasures they enjoyed until suddenly they were enslaved and his story began to roll in opposite direction; his wives were forcefully taken by the slave master, David Diop put it this way: "My women crushed their painted mouths/ On the thin hard lips of steel-eyed conquerors" (line 14-15). All the freedom his children enjoyed were taken away, all the freedom he enjoyed were also taken away. He became bound with the chains of slavery and his "children left their peaceful nakedness/ For the uniform of iron and blood." The last three lines of the poem were zeugma; "The irons of slavery tore my heart to pieces/ Tomtoms of my nights, tomtoms of my fathers." which means that the slavery took his peace, pleasure and cultural heritage; and made him loser of everything.

The poem has a rural riverine colonial setting due to the instances on slavery, hut, canoe and swimming of naked children. The twenty line poem is divided into 10 lines each stanza. No obvious rhythm, no specific end rhyme scheme but flows from up to down with easy to comprehend dictions and reasonable figures of speech. The tone of the poem was sad and self which made poem-speaker wrote from a first person point of view. The themes are slavery, freedom, pre-colonial African lifestyle. The sun is personified in line 1 "The sun used to laugh in my hut", line 3 has simile comparing the love from the poem speaker's wives to that of palm tree blowing evening breeze, "Of deadly depths" in line 5 is an imagery with an image of sight, "steel-eye conqueror" symbolized wicked dictator, "And my canoes would battle with crocodile" could be consider metaphor or personification or hyperbole.


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