A Far Cry From Africa Poem Analysis

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Register to read the introduction… Although "A Far Cry from Africa" is to some extent centered around the Mau Mau Uprising, Walcott doesn't go into detail about how truly terrible the carnage was. The speaker does use some vivid and horrific language in the poem: "Beaten upon bloodstreams of the veldt / Corpses are scattered through a paradise" (Walcott 3-4). However, the language is very subdued compared to the shocking incidents that took place: The Mau-Mau atrocities were always well publicised by the Colonial Office. The facts are that in all, thirty-two settlers died in these rebellions. Apart from those hanged, the British massacred more than twenty thousand in combat. In addition one hundred thousand Kikuyu died in detention camps. One reviewer writes that the catalogue of tortures they endured were Abu-Chraib-like: routine beatings; men forced to sodomise each other, attacked and mauled by Alsatian dogs, forced to smear feces on themselves; women gang-raped; children butchered and paraded around on spears; men having their testicles cut off and then being forced to eat them. (Geoffe …show more content…
Not that Walcott was brainwashed by Colonial Office propaganda. He recognised the scale of what was afoot; he even cried genocide in a small voice. He just couldn't take sides. (Geoffe 59). Walcott portrays the speaker as divided on the Mau Mau Uprising perhaps because he had a foot in both camps. He was an insider to the Mau Mau's blood-wise, but an outsider geographically speaking and his ideologies represent both sides. The speaker expresses his conflict by showing his uncertainty of where to turn: "Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?" (Walcott 27). The poem comes to an end without a resolution, much like the Mau Mau Uprising: "The Mau Mau Uprising, which began in 1952, was put down in 1960 without a treaty, yet the British did leave Kenya in 1963" (Mwangi 98). The speaker reflects the Mau Mau Uprising for as it was never cleanly resolved, the speaker never resolves his conflict about which side to take within the poem.
Works Cited
Abrams, M.H. "Marxist Criticism." A Glossary of Literary Terms. 7th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.

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