Yr 12 English Learning Portfolio- Item 1
A Far Cry from Africa is a poem first published in 1962 by the Caribbean poet, Derek Walcott. Walcott is of both African and British heritage and this result in a very conflicting sense of belonging. The poem refers to the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya in the 1950s. During which there was an extensive bloody battle between the native Kikuyu tribe and European settlers who had colonized Kenya. The Kenyans faced economical deprivation and near-slavery treatment under the White colonizers. The Kikuyu people formed the Mau Mau, what would be today regarded as a terrorist organization who aimed to purge all European influence from the country. The struggle between the two ethnics was horrifying and bloody, innocents were killed and both sides committed equal atrocities.
Walcott composed this poem to express his objection and horror towards the events that occurred. Simultaneously Walcott also explores his own sense of belonging and identity as an individual. He portrays his psychological conflicts and how his history and heritage can become a barrier to belonging. The poem is written for a general audience but possibly for a Western audience in order to raise issues about ethnic as he had personally encountered racism during his time in America.
Walcott explores his conflicted sense of belonging due to his divided cultural and nationality background. This is seen in the last stanza, “Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?” through the use of rhetorical question Walcott reveals his inner thoughts and shows his uncertainty. He has to make the choice of belonging to one group because he cannot belong to two opposing groups. This is once again reflected in the rhetorical question “how choose between this Africa and the English tongue I love?” He is of African origin but he loves the English language and it is with this that allows him to create art, to create poetry. It is a hard choice for him. At the same time, Walcott doesn’t...