South Africa - Sample Essay

Essay Question: ‘Nothing’s changed’ by Tatamkhulu Afrika and ‘I am not that woman’ by Kishwar Naheed are both protest poems. Explain what the protests are and how each poet makes their argument. Discuss with reference to language, structure and poetic devices. ‘Nothing’s changed,’ is a poem written by Tatumkhulu Afrika around 1990. The poem was written after 1994; this occurred when Apartheid was abolished. ‘Apartheid’ emphasises separation between the whites and the masses (blacks. )The system in South Africa was to give prestigious jobs, land, homes and all the prosperous wealth to the white minority.

The poem is based on when Afrika revisits District 6, a residential area of Cape Town. This was an extensive mixed raced community including Muslims, Jewish, white, Arab, masses (blacks) etc. Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s the government declared the residential area of Cape Town as a ‘whites only’ area and non white residents were evicted from the area. Approximately 600,000 residents were forced to move out and the area was bulldozed, most of it remained as a wasteland. Afrika refused to accept the white card and instead he wanted to be classified as ‘coloured.

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‘ In the poem Afrika speaks against the injustice of the government system in South Africa. He depicts a society where the rich and poor are divided. His arguments are about his concerns of the indictment of racism, exploitation and also for justice in our humanity. The disintegration of district six was a traumatic experience for Afrika. He finds that even though some changes have taken place, he has been disillusioned and feels as if he is betrayed by the whites and the South African government which leaves him in rage and frustration.

Afrika has written an autobiographical poem to convey his emotions, and his disapproval of the separate treatment between the whites and the masses (blacks. ) He leaves a message in the readers minds and creates a feeling of disheartenment and conveys a very unlikely chance of change happening. Kishawar Naheed has also written an autobiographical poem in “I am not that woman. ” The poem is set in Pakistan. It emphasises the role of a traditional Muslim women being inferior and isolated towards men. Moreover, this attempts to redefine the man-woman relationship.

Kishwar Naheed was born in a traditional family and had to fight for an education as many traditional families discriminated women from an education. At the time when Kishwar Naheed had written “I am not that woman”, poetry was mainly dominated by men poets. Kishwar Naheed is one of the most famous feminist poets. She created an organisation called Hawwa (Eve) in India and Pakistan this means ‘air’ which perhaps symbolises freedom, moreover Naheed could interpret her group Hawwa as “to breathe” or “to live”. The group was made to help homebound women to become independent, financially.

Her poem argues about her own experience of suppression in her culture and helps Muslim women believe that their lifestyle can change and their problems will be resolved. Both the poems are autobiographical and are written by contemporary poets from different countries and cultures. They make their arguments by the language they use as well as poetic devices and describe the oppression they are facing. They are both protests for equality and human rights. The poets mention their true life story to make their argument effective.

In this essay I will be analysing what the protests are, how each poet makes their argument and how it is structured in the poems “Nothing’s changed” and “I am not that woman. ” Moreover, I will be exploring the themes, idea of protest and techniques Tatumkhulu Afrika and Kishwar Naheed use. The main protest both the poets make is about inequality. For instance, in “Nothing’s changed” Tatumkhulu emphasises the economic division and inequality between the whites and the masses (blacks) by using contrast and personification.

This is evident in the words, “In tall, purple flowering,” this could possibly refer to the white area and their lives of wealth, beauty, health, luxury and an extravagant style of living. “Flowering” could suggest fortunate or a prosperous lifestyle. “Tall” could represent beauty or high status. The colour purple is beautiful however it also symbolises “dried blood” which could perhaps indicate death. It is ironic as people’s lives were taken away or were beaten by the whites during Apartheid. In contrast, the metaphor “Amiable weeds” could suggest the masses (blacks) who were treated with neglect.

It reinforces the idea of not being taken care of, friendly, treated with neglect, a person showing pleasant good natured qualities or an intruder. These quotes sound friendlier compared to the beginning of stanza one because it has more syllables in it and the area is familiar to him. He uses these words to give the reader the impression that the whites and the masses (blacks) were not treated equally during Apartheid or even after it was abolished. The contrast is significant to make his argument clear to the reader of the inequality that should be nonexistent since Apartheid was supposedly put to an end.

At the beginning of stanza one the reader cannot tell what particular culture the poem belongs to and the mood of the stanza is calm. Kishwar Naheed uses repetition to indicate her argument. For example, the words “I am” are repeated at the beginning of each stanza. She uses these words to make her argument clear and show how powerful, willing and determined she is to amend her oppressed lifestyle. It is clear to the reader that no one at all can change her beliefs as she is strong and passionate to achieve equality between men and women.

Naheed is in rage and frustrated as the majority of women follow their culture of being obedient towards their husbands. The repetition creates a sense of guilt, in particular to the men she directed this at. Alliteration is used in Tatumkhulu Afrika’s poem to represent his resentment of the social inequality that still existed. The alliteration, assonance of the harsh “C” sound is seen in the descriptive words “Cuffs” and “Cans” which are repetition of consonant sounds. “Can” symbolises waste which gives an image that the masses (blacks) feel unwanted; he uses this technique to make his argument effective.

Also, to make the argument clear in the readers mind by expressing his feelings and explaining the vivid image of the surroundings. Another technique Afrika uses is onomatopoeia, “Click” and “Crunch” the verbs illustrate that the masses (blacks) have a feeling of isolation and loneliness; and perhaps their position of inequality may not change. The word “Click” could suggest a stressful lifestyle; it is used to imitate the sound of the poet walking. He attempts to bring the whole scene to life. The word “Crunch” has an impact on the reader as it involves and helps them imagine they are walking with him.

Furthermore, this gives the reader an idea of construction, wasteland and neglect. The poets’ use of onomatopoeia allows the reader to experience the physical feelings of the poet. The effect it has on the reader is a hard, bitter mood and it helps the reader follow the man on his journey through the district literally and metaphorically. Therefore, Afrika’s protest is on segregation and it sounds as if he perhaps is showing the brutal situation the masses (blacks) are in. Kishwar Naheed shows her protest by using imagery, the use of metaphor shows how passionate she is towards emancipation “remember me?



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