A Critique of African Protest Poetry

1502 Words7 Pages
What is Protest Literature Protest literature conveys different definitions and meanings. According to Stauffer, "there is no common understanding of protest literature; the term has been used to mean almost all literature or no literature". Therefore, every genre can be described as "protest literature" because literature is a way and art of showing emotions, values and concerns. Because of the uncertainty of the definition, Stauffer provides a wide range of norms that can help classify the literature according to his views. Stauffer enumerates a set of norms that helps classify by what he means by protest literature. Firstly, he defined protest literature as language that changes the society and self. In addition, Stauffer went deeper by describing the literature as a "catalyst or mirror of social change". Furthermore, some of the necessary requirements for protest literature stated by Stauffer are three in number. They are empathy and symbolic action, in which empathy promotes shock value, inspires emotions and desires, and symbolic action supports interpretation. Even though almost all literature can be called protest literature in a sense that they all portray a point of theme or view, protest literature has to be specifically written for change. In other words, the writer needs to have specific goals for change in society or individuals from the very start. Therefore, the effects of protest literature cannot simply be spontaneous or by accident. Furthermore, protest literature cannot be judged by how effective it is. This shows that protest literature fails to persuade or "convert" even one individual, the literature is still consider a success because a point has been made which results in acknowledgement... ... middle of paper ... ... exactly they were or what direction to take. Slowly he moves to and fro, to and fro, then faster and faster he swishes up and down. His blue shirt billows in the breeze like a tattered kite. The world whirls by: east becomes west, north turns to south; the four cardinal points meet in his head. Mother! Where did I come from? When will I wear long trousers? Why was my father jailed? Works Cited -Boy on a Swing by Oswald M. Mtshali -Corruption:Lament by Sam Chrenyan -Dance the Guns to Silence by 100 Poems for Ken Saro-Wiwa -Fields of Gold- Children of Poverty by Jan Weeratunga -Prophets Of Protest: Reconsidering The History Of American Abolitionism,Ed,Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John Stauffer,New York:The New Press,2006,pp 23-38 -Protest poetry:The voice of the conscience,Ananda P.Strestha,CNAS JOURNAL,VOL 27,No 2,(July 2000)
Open Document