Summary of the Poem Vanity by Birago Diop
The poem addresses the need for Africans not to neglect their past or roots, obviously, the poet-persona is concerned about the abandonment of ancestral ways and the teachings of the ancestors, as obtainable in the traditional African society, by the westernised generations of Africans. In addition, there is a preoccupation with the need to look inward in the efforts to solve the challenges faced by the continent. There are suggestions to the effect that turning eyes or ears in other directions will not do much, if any, good. The poet, therefore, warns that if this trend is not promptly reversed, Africans stand the risk of becoming the laughing stock of others.
Line to line Analysis of the Poem Vanity by Birago Diop
Stanza 1 (Lines 1- 5)
In this stanza, the poet wonderingly comments on the reluctance of Africans to address a certain issue of serious concern. According to him, this issue, which he is yet to disclose, is being talked about in ushed tones or not given enough attention. It is, however, an issue which should not only be discussed openly but loudly too. Because of this, any delay will make us object of others’ laughter. In addition, any complaint resulting from our current a.would make us not any than “sad complaining voices of beggars.” Here, the poet uses a paradox to subtly mock our situation for beggars are not tod to complain.
Stanza 2 (Lines 6-10)
This stanza carries the poet’s wonder further. He wonders who will pay us attention if we complain about our pains, which have been there for ages. This wonder is predicated on the fact that we have not done the right thing by ourselves. It is still linked to the fact that we have not addressed our challenges in the right way. By describing our mouths as large ones, the poet further shows the pointlessness of complaining while abandoning the right course of action.
Stanza (Lines 11-14)
style repeating what we have in the first and second stanzas, the poet rhetorically asks again whether there is anyone who will pay attention to our complaints and anger, which he seems to consider unjustifiable. In fact, he likens such kind of anger to a growing tumour, which is a self-inflicted and self nurtured pain.
Stanza 3 (Lines 11-14)
in a style repeating what we have in the first and second stanzas, the poet rhetorically asks again whether there is anyone who will pay attention to our complaints and anger, which he seems to conside unjustifiable. In fact, he likens such kind of anger to a growing tumour, which is a self-inflicted
Stanza 4 (Lines 15-24)
This stanza, the longest in the poem, provides the details of why the poet wonders if there is anyone who will listen to our complaints or if we do not deserve to be mocked. We are informed that when our ancestors come, the way they normally give us advice and direct us, we turn deaf do ears to them. Even when they cry and plead with us on certain courses of action, we still remain deaf to their entreaties. This is further compared to the way we have equally abandoned their teachings, as left behind in cultural artefacts and natural elements around us. We have refused to see, as much as we have refused to listen to the teachings of our progenitors. For these reasons, the poet declares us “blind, deaf and unworthy Sons”.
Stanza 5 (Lines 25-30)
This stanza recaps that has been said in the previous It also clearly states the reason why complaining about our plight deserves no sympathetic understanding. We do not deserve being given attention if we now cry or complain because we have also refused to listen to the voices of wisdom.
Setting the Poem Vanity by Birago Diop
The setting of the poem Africa, though it could be narrowed down to French West Africa or Senegal, the capital of French colonies specifically, where a lot of false citizens had in the sub-region, been made out The temporal setting is clearly the colonial era or pre-Independence period.
It was a period when most of the new African educated elites, especially in French Africa, were eager to become French citizens and enjoy the perceived privileges which went with it. It was af era of craze for white values and civilization, as well as conscious attempts to denigrate African es or look down on the few who treasured it among the new educated elites. Psychologic it was a time when many of the new educated elites grappled with cultural complex, an inferiority co for that matter