Phillips Olayanju (Lagos)
An African Man
All the way from the black continent
Stands 6 foot a man in authority
In all idealism of masculinity
Moving stifly in graceful movement.
Unpoignant mountain shaped shoulders,
Stiff body hardened by glucose.
A de rigueur for cloudy water.
Black heavy muscular jewels between his thigh
A sign of sprig manhood
Complemented by monthly cry
of another african baby.
Most intelligent improvisor
With broomsticks to pick his tooth,
God given automobile as agent of movement
And hoe as means of livelihood.
Nightly activity on bed
Body meshed against another
Black skins shining in darkness
With grunts of hardwork.
Unfearful lion in the forest
Hunting down the courageous leopard
Proudly bringing daily feast
For poor harems to dine.
The winds speak of his arrival
As they carry his scent far and near
Distracting feminine gossips in corners
Causing giggling and diffidence.
Until the white, yellow and red men came
Amidst united discord
And killed the scent
Of the african man.
All the way from the white continent.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
A sign of maturity for fatherhood is the 'muscular jewels' within his thigh which work every night complemented by the 'monthly cry' of a baby...this potrays polygamy in African culture.The African man knows nothing of civilisation and this is shown in lines 13-16 using his legs as instrument of movement and farming as means of livelihood. The African man's daily life is potrayed in the next two stanza's-Work during the day and enjoy the pleasure of life in the night.Suddenly, the poem takes a sharp turn as the nail is hit on the head.Finally, civilisation comes in all idealism of training the babaric African man.It is noteworthy that the African man comes from a 'black' continent(symbolism) while the 'whites' come from a 'white' continent(symbolism) so they believe the black man is babaric and thus disrupts the way of life initially described in the first7 stanzas and 'killed the scent of the african man' Note: now 'african' not 'African'. The poet then juxtaposes the first line with the last line.
Comments about this poem (An African Man by Phillips Olayanju )
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