Reading and Content Analysis of African Poetry – “Expelled” by Jared Angira

Welcome to class! 

In today’s class, we will be talking about “Expelled” by Jared Angira. Enjoy the class!

Author’s biographical sketch

Jared Angira was born in 1947. He studied at the University of Nairobi where he bagged a bachelor of commerce (B. Com) in 1971. While at the university, he edited Busara, a literary and creative writing magazine. His collection of poems includes Juices, 1970, Silent Voices, Soft Corals, 1974 and The Year Go By, 1980.

Poem analysis

This poem shows how the coming of a foreign culture and ideology had come to shatter the traditional standards and ways of life, economically, socially, religiously and politically.  The colonialists might be responsible for this sudden and devastating change. Before the coming of the white men, the Africans had been involved in commerce and econometrics and had planned and managed their political economy. But the foreign incursion had left a bitter experience in all facets of the old ways. As the poet puts it succinctly:

We had traded in this market competitively perfect till you come, in the  boat, and polished goodwill

Approval from high order.

All pepper differentials denied flag – bearers.

In economics, a perfect competition market is a free competitive market for the sale of a commodity. This was a lot of the business environment in days preceding colonialism, but now approval would have to be obtained, even from the western world, for a country to gain free access to goods and services. Even the politicians would have some western cleavages before any meaningful impact would be made by them, at the highest level.

The imperialists ‘cut our ribs’, ‘burst the cowshed’ and worst still, ‘planted on the market place’ their own business strategies to ruin our economy. ‘The creditor tapped my rusty door’ shows how they came and put out the old things which howsoever ‘rusty’ they still served the purpose befitting the old order.

The ‘last penny’ probably referring to the very old currency in use then like ‘the farden’, ‘the cowries ‘ etc, were discarded and disposed of with the coming of the white dominion. As is usual with the downtrodden, every person, every nation, avoid him or her hence ‘the broken line runs across my face’

The efforts to destroy any known economic policy of the old system result in one thing thus:

The auctioneer will gong his hammer

for the goods left behind.

Evaluation

  1. Give a detailed content analysis of the poem, ‘Expelled’.
  2. How does the poem, ‘Expelled’ display the Europeans.

Thematic focus

  1. The evils of colonialism
  2. The exploitation of Africa
  3. Hardship and regret.

Poetic devices

  1. Diction: The lines of the poem flow like an ocean wave or a river bed. The use of run-on lines makes it rhythmical and the smooth run of the poem is realized and captured. The language of the poem makes for easy understanding. Though certain words are difficult to comprehend except a recourse is made to the dictionary, such words as ‘differential’ (degree of difference), ‘tapped’ (Signaled to put lights out or to knock gently) ‘gale’ ( a strong breeze between a still breeze and a hurricane, or an outburst) ‘ rivulets’ (small rivers) ’blared’ ( harsh loud sound).
  2. Onomatopoeia: Exemplified in ‘ gong’, ‘floating’, ‘rusty’ , ‘dark’, ‘burst’ .’ drought,’ pepper, ‘hammer’, ‘broken’, ‘tapped’, ‘fishing’ etc. The effect of the above words is that the musical nature of the poem is enhanced and the meaning of the poem is further enhanced because their meaning is as the words sound.
  3. Irony/paradox: (1) ‘everyone avoids my path…’ (2) ‘I have nothing to reject’, (3) ‘plant rejects seawater’, ‘the seawater rejects me’; In no 3 above, the rejection of the intruder results into the victim being hated as well.
  4. Allusion: There is a special reference to the Christian bible on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah which was gutted by fire which signifies how unsafe and threatening the coming of the intruders was.
  5. Symbolism/Imagery: The ‘rusty door’ symbolizes the hopelessness and helplessness and the impecuniosities, misfortune, foibles and limitations of life of the speaker. The image of an auctioneer in the poem conveys a picture of a thing that is at its last diminishing point.
  6. Metaphor: It is metaphoric when the poet remembers ‘The tree of memory’ ‘planted on the market’, showing the heritage of our arts and artefacts. ‘ Human lake’ also refers to human emotions and the lachrymal organ in the human body which induces tears to flow from the eyes
  7. Alliteration/Repetition: The uses of these two literary devices are that the emphasis of some words as a result of repetition had made the lines musical and rhythmical e.g. ‘ flowed to flooded’ (‘f’ alliterates) ‘garden…. gale’ (‘g’ alliterates). The words repeated are ‘my’, ‘you’ ‘our’ (‘my’ is used ten times in the poem). ‘Avoid’, ‘reject’, are also repeated.
General evaluation
  1. Discuss the diction deployed by Jared Angira in the poem, ‘Expelled’.
  2. Discuss two themes in the poem.

Weekend assignment

  1. “She waited for him for a thousand years “ illustrates (a) euphemism (b) hyperbole (c) assonance (d) ellipses
  2. A literary device which expresses meaning in its direct opposite is (a) metaphor (b) paradox (c) parody (d) irony
  3. Pick the odd item out of the options listed below (a) verse (b) stanza (c) rhythm (d) dialogue
  4. In drama, ‘ denouement’ is the same as (a) climax (b) conflict (c) resolution (d) anti-climax
  5. Which of the following is not true of a balled: (A) They were originally sung (b) They are mostly part of oral tradition (c) They tell a popular story (d) They are written in iambic metre

Theory

  1. Is it true that the poem is about a disaster or a crisis? Expatiate.
  2. What image does the word ‘auctioneer’ carry in the poem?

Reading assignment

  1. Exam Reflection Vol. IV, Literature- in-English by Sunday Olateju Faniyi, pgs 93-102.
  2. Essential Literature-in-English for SSS by Ibitola A. O., pgs 222-225.
  3. The Mastery of Literature by Chinweikpe Iwuchukwu Esq, pgs 51-56.

 

In our next class, we will be talking about Reading and Textual Analysis of Non-African Prose – Lord of the Flies by William Golding. We hope you enjoyed the class.

Should you have any further question, feel free to ask in the comment section below and trust us to respond as soon as possible.

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