Friday, 7 October 2016

Born on March 13, 1935, Kofi Awoonor was a Ghanaian poet and author well-known for combining the poetic traditions of his native Ewe with contemporary and religious symbolism to create a unique form of writing. He died after sustaining injuries during the attack by Somali militant group, al-Shabaab at Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya on September 21, 2013.

"Song of Sorrow 1 and 2 is a pessimistic poem. It is a dirge in which the living blame the ancestors for the hardship and difficulties that their departure has left behind. Much of this meaning is conveyed through several important images used in the poem.

The desolation and helplessness that has occurred is presented right at the beginning of the Song of Sorrow 1 in the form of “chameleon faeces”. The image is appropriate as it conjures up the picture of something that cannot be wiped away or made clean. It is this catastrophe that is emphasized by the use of this image.

A series of other images closely associated with desolation, destruction and even death, is used in successive parts
of the poem: References can be made to the images like the “Sun and rain” that “burn” and beat respectively; the sun that can no longer be fired because there are no sons; other plants and animal image such as “the sharp stumps, the falling “tree” which also symbolizes the death of Agosu, an important family elder, the “broken fence; the “snake” the “cow” and the “vultures” which are all destructive creatures. The “wilderness” is not spared in reference to its desolation.

The overwhelming feeling in the poem is that nothing has gone right since the departure of the ancestors and only suffering remains for survivors including the persona. Even those who travel and return have to confront a miserable life. An entire civilization or way of life represented by “Kpeti’s great household” is no more. What are left are the broken fences now taken over by entire strangers."


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


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