Sixth form English
Sample materials about a poem from the 2006 anthology
I provide detailed explanations of ideas such as rhyme, metre and rhythm, alliteration, stanza, different kinds of imagery, and so on. I also provide a brief summary of the poems, and points about how they are 'put together'. This course is aimed at making poetry understandable. Below is a sample of materials I provide. This sample shows materials for a poem in the AQA anthology.
Osundare describes a man thinking about other men who have been picked up by the secret police in the night and imprisoned and tortured. But he tells himself that they are 'not my business' so he doesn't do anything, especially he doesn't link up with others, and other groups of people So when the knock comes on his door he has no support, and now it is his 'business'.The man mentions three people who have been taken away, and each man has a name which recalls a particular ethnic group (what used to be called 'tribes'), the dominant ethnic groups in Nigeria, who have traditionally been rivals for influence.
Political Background: Nigeria under military rule
The poem has a background of military dictator ship and brutal treatment of people who criticise the ruling General, the dictator,Sani Abacha, who died in 1998. Throughout it's history since independence in 1960, Nigeria has alternated between elected civilian governments, and coups by different military leaders. When this poem was written Nigeria was under military rule, and from time to time soldiers were on the streets dealing with disturbances.
Nigeria's ethnic groups and 'tribalism'
These are yams, and are traditional food in the south of Nigeria and very much associated with cultural identity - who you are.
Osundare gives three names in his poem. Each of the names will make a Nigerian reader think of one of the dominant ethnic groups in the country, the Hausa (North), the Yoruba (South West), and the Igbo (South East); The illustrations show the typical traditional dress of each group.
Wider Literary Background
Osundare's poem follows the overall shape of a poem written originally in German by Martin Niemoller (though some people say it wasn't written by him, just suggested). It deals with the Nazi times, when the Jews were sent to camps and killed. Osundare, of course, is not talking about the Jews, but he is talking about oppression of particular ethnic groups in his own country
Osundare's poem has the same structure in the way he goes through different social groups of people and shows how each one thinks they will be okay, and so don't help the others. Then they under up without anyone to help them