WAEC EXAMINER PROVIDES REVISION QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON OTHER AFRICAN POEMS FOR COMING WAEC/NECO LITERATURE EXAMS (107)

 WAEC EXAMINER PROVIDES REVISION QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON OTHER AFRICAN POEMS FOR COMING WAEC/NECO LITERATURE EXAMS (107)1.Question: Comment on the poet’s use of figures of speech in the poem “Boy on the swing” by Oswald M. Mtshali

Read the Poem

The poet, Mtshali has used a number of figures of speech effectively to convey a small boy’s reactions to the apartheid’s oppressive system.

Simile is one of the dominant figures of speech used in the poem. The boy’s torn shirt which speaks of the Blackman’s socio-economic status is described, “Like a tattered kite” which billows in the sky with the force of the wind as the boy swings to and fro in his childish play. The reference to the expression like: “swishes”, faster and faster”, and “up and down” further show the boy’s increased confusion as he attempts to understand the workings of the society. The flapping of the boy’s tattered shirt further heightens the speed of his movement, as well as his confusion. In this confused state, the boy can no longer focus on the realities around him, nor on the origin of his identity.

Again, there is the use of hyperbole. The confusion and the riot of the swing make the “world whirl by”. The boy’s concentration of the business at hand is described as the meeting of the four cardinal points in the boy’s small head. Thus the boy becomes dizzy, which significantly shows change both in movement and speed of the swing. In this confused state, he asks innocuous questions like “where do I come from? When will I wear long trousers? Why was my father jailed?” in the larger context of the meaning of the poem, these are profound questions, for they underscore the oppressive and atrocious nature of the apartheid system.

To further reinforce the figures of speech, the poet uses sound devices like repetition and onomatopoeia which heighten the confused state of the boy as he loses his balance on the swing.

2.Question: Examine the poet’s attitude toward the situation of the peasants in Myopia.

Read the Poem

The poet is vexed by the maltreatment meted out to the ordinary people (peasants) by their own leaders whom they voted for to steer the affairs of their country. In the opening stanza, the peasants were seen ‘drenched’ in the ‘morning rains’ and ‘shivering in their emaciated bone’. The capitalization of the word ‘PEASANTS!’ create the sense of urgency which calls for the immediate rescue of the people.

Their appearance paints a sorrowful picture of wretchedness, desolation and abandonment as they have been denied the basic necessities of life like food, clothing and shelter.

The roads are ‘boulevards of misery’ and ‘rags corollary of hunger’ rules the day as these situations fill the poet with nothing but ‘a train of anguish’. The imagery painted here brings to light the abject state of poverty which the masses live and has become a source of concern and worry to the poet.

His attitude towards the leaders is that of disgust and anger as the natives in their own land have been reduced to hew woods and drawers of water. He also lament over the total abandonment of the agricultural field (rice-pads) in the country which could have been revamped to help provide livelihood for the poor peasants is in a rotten state (i.e. putrid marshland) and ‘tended by no magic fertilizer’.

In the concluding stanza, the tempo of the poem changes to that of aggression as the poet seeks to take radical approach by being a ‘sabre’ and ‘an incendiary bomb’ to wipe out the perpetrators of this heinous acts against the people. He is ready to ‘be the hangman hanging himself, hanging them, and even hanging the day’ in within which their leaders committed those crimes.  Coincidentally the poet uses the pronoun ‘them’ the opening and the concluding stanza of the poem. The first ’them’ refers to the poor peasants and other ‘them’ refers to their leaders who have become their oppressors and therefore calls for a rebellion to end their cruel regime.

3.Question : To What Extent is ‘ Ambassadors of Poverty by P.O.C. Umeh’ A Criticism of the Political Elite?

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Two classes of people are showcased in the poem: the rich politicians [political elites] and the poor masses who are all natives of the same land. The political elites occupy positions as a result of the masses voting them into offices to serve their interest. But sadly the political elites come with their own selfish agenda to the detriment of the people who put them there.

The poet so much peeved brands the political elites as ‘patriots in reverse’ / ‘saviors’ [thieves] who come under the pretense of having their people’s interest at heart but come with their own personal scheme of looting the coffers of the state. They siphon the resources of the state with their ‘kleptomaniac fingers and suckling filaments’ and ride in ‘exotic cars’ at the expense of their own people [brothers and sisters] who are denied the basic necessities of life. The masses are compelled to take death traps for roads, mud for water, candle for light, underneath trees for schools, rats for protein, fasting as food and alibi as governance.

The persona further tags them ‘round trippers’ [globe trotters] with their concerns for outside matters with least concern for local issues. He categorically states that they ‘have their heads abroad and their anus at home’. In these lines one could deduce the extravagant trips of politicians under the pretext of attending conferences and seeking funds for the nations which they do so to satisfy their self pleasures.

The political elites are also chastised for not being committed to the task for which they were voted for. As they become the so called ‘saviours’ of the people. For in the end they become ‘patriots in reverse order’ who sit in air-condition chambers and loaf around in guise of working. They become mere position occupants and as if not enough give appointments to their allies who become ‘barons of incompetence’ which worsen the plight of their people. They become dubious-sit-tight “patriots” and ‘enemies of service’ thereby frustrating the corporate will of their followers.

Above all, the poet ‘wept’ at the situation where political elites take advantage of the desperation of their people to perpetuate their evil governance. He criticizes them for enticing the youth with ‘crispy mint and food aroma’ and use them as ‘willing tools’ to mow down any person who would become an obstacle in their quest to clinch to power forever.

4.Questions: Discuss irony in Shola Owonibi’s poem Homeless but Not Hopeless.

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Irony abounds in Shola Owinibi’s poem “Homeless but Not Hopeless”.The beggars claiming to the owners of the streets but force to vacate their ‘homes’ during the daytime is quite ironical. Being the native of the street gives the impression that they are the landlords of the streets and under no circumstance that they should be ejected. But it is found that when its day, they have to pack their belongings and roam to find their daily bread by standing, kneeling and bending
to beg for alms at the roadside.

It’s ironical for beggars who least contribute to development and are frown upon by the society to claim to be‘necessary part’ of the society’s existence. And for this reason the society cannot simply brush them off since they are ‘the major fragment of the globe’, probably confirming the saying that God love the poor that is why He created so many of them. It’s further ironical as to how strength resides in numbers but in spite of their large numbers their voice is often not heard.
Yet they do all the menial jobs of the rich by being the ‘carrier their burden’ and the ‘translators of their dreams’. Here it’s quite glaring that rich cannot amass their wealth and build their dream empires without associating themselves with the poor beggars comparing themselves to ‘angels who open gates’ to others blessing is a barrelful of irony in itself.Angels are people who are not in need like the beggars who go down on their knees to beg for survival. But rather are bearers of good tidings and self-sufficient creatures who help in the accomplishment of man’s wishes. Beggars having none of these attributes of angels somehow make this metaphorical statement ironical. Angels give or bless but do not take in from others.

In addition, the statement “we are the lack that takes your lack” is also drenched in irony. He who has not, has nothing to offer. This statement can be likened to the Akan adage that “if nakedness promises you a cloth, listens to his name”. Beggars already in need cannot provide needs of the rich. But it is can be deduced that people receive blessings from them as a result giving them alms; as the Holy Book succinctly puts it, “ blessed is the hand that gives…”

Furthermore, beggars in their own judgment claiming to sleep better at night than the rich is also irony. According to the poem, beggars claim to be comfortable by sleeping on cardboard beds laid on stinks as captured in the word ‘cozy’ compare to the rich who ‘slump’ in the warmth of their love ones but do not sleep better.It is interesting how the cardboard bed laid on stinks’ restore their strength, as the night injects them with cold breeze and ‘endurance’. Thus the rich basking in comfort of their wealth do not have perfect sleep after all.

The concluding lines of the poem strongly display the irony of the demise of man on earth. In the life after death, the holders of power are not the rich call on man. But it is they the poor who will live happily after life as captured below:

…This makes us rife at hereafter
When death opens the gate
To the second phase.

By Adjei Agyei-Baah (WAEC EXAMINER) (below)

13 comments on “WAEC EXAMINER PROVIDES REVISION QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON OTHER AFRICAN POEMS FOR COMING WAEC/NECO LITERATURE EXAMS (107)

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