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CaPrea Wheatley Dr. Joan Kennedy English 2333.P01 14 October 2010 The Crusade to Liberation The word “independence” signifies freedom, strength, ambition, and motivation. Many dream of it. Warriors fight for it. Educators to the proletariat encourage it. Although many desire this status and often obtain it, independence comes with a price. The price varies, but when the name “Africa” is announced, thousands become acutely aware of the measure of payment. Out of that population, two West African poets, Bernard Dadie` and David Diop, dedicated themselves to empowering Africa through the Negritude movement. The members and purpose of the movement consisted of African writers who pushed for independence of the French colonies in Africa and implemented inspiration by stressing the importance of never letting go of their culture in spite of its sovereignty. Although these two men share the passion of knowing their homeland is a treasure held in bondage, they each respond in a unique way to the suffering of their ancestors and express optimism of future freedom in their writings. David Diop opens his poem “Africa” by clearly initiating the tone with undeniable expressions of pride and celebration of his country: “Africa, my Africa / Africa of proud Warriors in ancestral savannas” (Diop 1-3). Although he was born, raised, and educated in Europe, he called it “my Africa,” confessing the bond between the two, in spite of him not knowing his native land personally. Diop realized there was a great distance between the two of them (him and Africa) but acknowledged the beauty she held as if he had awakened to her each day of his life. Abruptly, in the midst of his celebration, Diop shifts his tone. He begins to reminisce of the struggles of his people. One can sense the pain festering as he describes the hard labor the colonialists embarked upon his ancestors, forming them into slaves in their own land for the benefit of the Frenchmen: Your beautiful black blood That irrigates the fields The blood of your sweat The work of your slavery The slavery of your children. Africa, tell me, Africa, Is this you, this back that is bent, This back that breaks Under the weight of humiliation This back trembling with red scars Saying yes to the whip under midday sun? (8-18) His attitude becomes filled with militancy. This demonstrates the reasoning behind the Negritude movement – slavery must stop! Ironically, he taunts them but only to rattle the warriors he knows that dwells within them. He follows with encouragement, to respond to the bondage by breaking away from the whips and to fight for their freedom. As his poem comes to an end, he transitions into hope through his altered ego, represented by the voice of Africa who responds to his chide temperament. She reminds him, change is coming. The white men will eventually leave and the young, who patiently wait and grow, will reap the fruits of the bitter labor. He writes: That is Africa, your Africa, That grows again, patiently, obstinately As the fruit gradually acquires The bitter taste of liberty. (23-26) In contrast, Bernard Dadie` announces hope immediately in his title, “Dry Your Tears, Africa!” instead of leaving it for the end. The expression of his tone implies that the pain is over, and it is time to move on. He proclaims, “Your children come back to you / Out of the storm and squalls of fruitless journeys” (Dadie` 2-3). He too acknowledges the painful struggles of the past. Yet he dreams of them returning to their cultural roots (not in by means of the physical realm but mentally and spiritually). Like Diop, he shares the awareness of the beauty Africa holds. He describes the sunset as purple (6), symbolizing royalty. He states that the mountain peaks are proud (7), creating an image of them admiring the distinctive lands below. He calls the water charming (19), referencing the uniqueness of the underwater creatures. And in spite of its potential undesired temperatures, he believes that the sun has a caressing demeanor (21). It is extremely difficult to see the treasures that lie above when the foot of the oppressor immobilizes. What man or woman would want to give up this extraordinary land? It would be those who have forgotten through the mundane activity of the daily survival in slavery. Here is where Dadie` demonstrates the necessity of the Negritude movement. His description reminds the African people of the riches in their land. He encourages them to be excited about the change by constantly repeating, “Dry your tears, Africa! / Your children come back to you” (1-2, 11, 23-24), throughout the entire poem. He extends the focus by finalizing with: their hands full of playthings and their hearts full of love. They return to clothe you in their dreams and their hopes. (25-28) He begins and ends the poem with the same faith. Instead of militancy, Dadie’s attitude is more forgiving and focused on the future evolution. In addition, his poem remains constant in his message. His feelings are not distraughtly expressed as those of Diop’s. However, both poets speak of the children as being the ones who would make the change or enjoy the fruit. Nevertheless, literature offers hope. It leads to motivation and strength, finalizing in action. David Diop and Bernard Dadie` express this to their people through their diverse writing styles and involvement in the Negritude movement. Whether the voice is rash or meek, angry or forgiving, bitter or sweet, their message of Africa remembering its radiant significances and the importance of independence remains in unison. Works Cited Dadie`, Bernard. “Dry Your Tears, Africa!” World Literature: An Anthology of Great Short Stories, Drama, and Poetry. Ed. Donna Rosenberg. Chicago: National Textbook Company. 1992. 344-345. Print. Diop, David. “Africa.” World Literature: An Anthology of Great Short Stories, Drama, and Poetry. Ed. Donna Rosenberg. Chicago: National Textbook Company. 1992. 371. Print.
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