Like Other Forms Of Art Poems Reflect Social Realities
QN: Like other forms of art, poems reflect social realities. They try to make us see in a new light and by seeing we are inspired to change. Use four poems you have studied to verify the above statement.
A poem is a metrical composition in form of stanzas that uses imaginative language to portray social realities. It is true that like other forms of art such as plays and novels poems also reflect social realities which make us inspired to change from bad lifestyle to a good one.
To verify the above statement references will be made to the following poems; “LOST BEAUTY” by J. Mwaikusa, “DEVELOPMENT” by K. Faraja, “BUILDING THE NATION” by H. Barlow and “A FREEDOM SONG” by O. Macgoye. To start with “Lost Beauty” the poet portrays the following social realities which might inspire us to change.
The poet shows the effects of neo-colonialism. The poet shows that most Africans have been affected by European culture. They try as much as possible to look like white people but in the process they lose their identity altogether. He shows that his eyes “don’t see anything black” but he sees “white skins and masks”.
In a way the poet tries to remind Africans to know who they are and be proud of their identity as he says “black is beautiful”. This shows that he wants us to change the white’s mentality and embrace our African identity.
Also, the poet portrays African natural beauty. Africans were created naturally beautiful. However, most Africans especially women have been struggling to change their skin colour using cosmetics, curl their hair or wear wigs to look like white women to the extent that it is hard nowadays to get a naturally beautiful African lady as he says “I want a black beauty queen”. This shows that we have lost our beauty. So the poet urges us to change this mentality and value our African natural beauty.
In the poem “Development” the poet portrays the issue of selfishness. The poet criticizes the hypocritical behaviour of the leaders who think of themselves while the majorities are disregarded. He shows that they are more sensitive to selfishness (egoism) than to matters pertaining to national development.
To be precise he asks whether they are incapable “to bring about development”. So the poet urges the leaders to change their behaviour or else the majority should take actions.
Additionally, there is an issue of corruption. Corruption is an obstacle to development. It is however sad to note that the people who are corrupt are the same leaders that we have given the power to rule us.
He shows that it is difficult for a nation to develop when the leaders to whom we have entrusted power are corrupt. So here again the poet calls for actions so that we may change the system and put in power people who are not corrupt if we need to get development.
Coming to “BUILDING THE NATION”, the poet discusses about hypocrisy. Many people in our society are hypocrites. They speak one thing and do quite the contrary. In the poem we see the PS goes to take a heavy lunch and leaves his driver. On coming back he claims to have eaten nothing and says he had attended to matters of state.
This is Hypocrisy and it is very bad in as much as national building is concerned. That’s why the poet says they were building the nation “different ways”. So the poet calls for the masses to take actions against hypocritical leaders.
Moreover, the poet shows the issue of classes. Classes are inevitable in any society however there should be no class that exploits the other. The poet shows that there are two classes in this society. High class represented by the PS who misuses the public funds by feasting and lower class who work on empty stomachs.
So the poet is calling for the change in which the national resources will benefit not only the ruling class but also the masses or else the lower class may one day stage a revolution.
And in the poem “A freedom Song” the poetess shows the issue of exploitation. The poem shows that the young girl Atieno works for her uncle as a house help but she is not paid. The uncle gives a lame excuse that “since she is my sisters child” that why she “…needs no pay”. This is a high level of exploitation.
Today there are a lot of people who live with their relatives’ children but they make them work all day long yet without pay. The poetess calls for change as this is a very bad habit.
Lastly, the poet discusses the issue of early pregnancy among children. This is a common problem today. The young girl Atieno gets early pregnancy and dies during delivery because of lacking proper guidance and care from parents who are busy with work and studies. Many young girls now get engaged in premarital
sex which leads them to get early pregnancies and as a result some drop out of school or die during delivery or contact HIV. The poetess is calling for parents to change this behaviour and take good care of their children.
In summary, it can be seen that poems do not develop in a vacuum. They address issues found in our societies and provide the way forward. If we need to achieve sustainable development and live harmoniously we must discourage and fight against the evils discussed in poems that are still prevalent in our societies.
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