- What is it about?
- In the 18th century, European countries took African people and traded them as slaves - they were carried in the holds of ships - dark, cramped, dirty and diseased places.
- While the slaves were on the ships they invented the limbo dance as a way of keeping themselves fit whilst chained to long iron bars.
- Today the dance remains a cultural tradition in the West Indies.
- Limbo can mean a special dance where people pass under a pole by leaning backwards. However, it can also refer to empty space (people say "I'm in limbo" when they don't know what to do.)
- In the poem, the ambiguity of the word is exploited. By going into slavery, the Africans are passing into a world where they mean nothing ('limbo like me'); on the slave ship they enter the limbo dance as a way of maintaining their culture on-board.
- It explores ideas of hope and despair.
- What do I need to know about the author?
- Kamau Braithwaite is a West Indian writer - he often writes about how powerful countries have taken over smaller countries and exploited them.
- What poetic features are noteworthy?
- The repetition of the word 'limbo' is key to the meaning of the poem.
- It provides the musical beat of the poem, like…