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Slide 1

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by Niyi Osundare
Olusegun Obasanjo
(Nigerian president)…read more

Slide 2

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Niyi Osundare
Niyi Osundare (born in 1947 in Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria) is a prolific poet,
dramatist and literary critic. He gained degrees at the University of Ibadan (BA),
the University of Leeds (MA) and York University, Canada (PhD, 1979). Previously
professor (from 1989) and Head of English (1993­1997) at the University of
Ibadan, he became professor of English at the University of New Orleans in 1997.
He has always been a vehement champion of the right to free speech and is a
strong believer in the power of words, saying, "to utter is to alter". Osundare is
renowned for his commitment to socially relevant art and artistic activism and has
written several open letters to the former President of Nigeria (Olusegun
Obasanjo), whom Osundare has often publicly criticised.
Osundare believes that there is no choice for the African poet but to be political:
"You cannot keep quiet about the situation in the kind of countries we find
ourselves in, in Africa. When you wake up and there is no running water, when you
have a massive power outage for days and nights, no food on the table, no hospital
for the sick, no peace of mind; when the image of the ruler you see everywhere is
that of a dictator with a gun in his hand; and, on the international level, when you
live in a world in which your continent is consigned to the margin, a world in which
the colour of your skin is a constant disadvantage, everywhere you go ­ then there
is no other way than to write about this, in an attempt to change the situation for
the better."…read more

Slide 3

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Who are African name
They picked Akanni up one morning How does this image
make you feel?
Beat him soft like clay
Is Akanni treated
And stuffed him down the belly humanely?
Of a waiting jeep.
Was this planned?
What business of mine is it
So long as they don't take the yam
From my savouring mouth? What does this
Why use this word?
The poet uses personification. He describes the jeep
as having a `belly' like a person or animal. This
makes the image more powerful as it sounds as if
Akanni has been eaten by the jeep.
This also connects with the last lines where the
narrator is eating.…read more

Slide 4

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`they'? than the first verse?
Who are Does this sound more or less threatening
iolent and sinister?
They came one night ow is Danladi's arrest made to sound
Booted the whole house awake
And dragged Danladi out, African name
Then off to a lengthy absence.
`a lengthy absence'could be a long term of
imprisonment or death. By using these words the
poet makes Danladi's fate unclear.
Is this a Why might this uncertainty be more frightening?
What business of mine is it
So long as they don't take the yam
From my savouring mouth?…read more

Slide 5

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to chinwe?
Chinwe went to work one day What happens show?
this repetition
What does
Only to find her job was gone:
No query, no warning, no probe ­
Just one neat sack for a stainless record.
`neat'? What business of mine is it
Why is it
So long as they don't take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
The same lines are repeated at the end of
the first three stanzas. What is being
suggested about the narrator?…read more

Slide 6

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Is this image
Think about the
And then one evening country in which this
poem is set. Why is
As I sat down to eat my yam this an effective
A knock at the door froze my hungry hand.
The jeep was waiting on my bewildered lawn Why is the jeep mentioned
and not `they'?
Waiting, waiting in its usual silence.
How is personification Why does the poem
Why repeat this word?
used in this stanza? not end with a definite
A jeep is a machine, it has no feelings so it
emphasises the unemotional arrest of the narrator. It
sounds sinister and automatic like a robot.
Repetition emphasises the fact that this event has
happened before to other people. The narrator has
The lawn is made to sound like a person because it is
been waiting for it to happen to him but done nothing
` bewildered' (puzzled and frightened) like the
to prevent it as long as he had enough to eat.
It also contrasts with previous verses. How?…read more


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