A Far Cry from Africa

As Julia’s earlier post touched on, Walcott seems to ground us as his audience most specifically in terms of location, often through his titles; however, in his piece “A Far Cry from Africa,” I found the notion of “Africa” to be much more abstracting than stabilizing. Rather than “Africa,” Walcott’s title maybe improved upon by being more specific to the REAL issue at hand: “A Far Cry from Africanness.” If this sounds silly and reductive, that’s because it is, linguistically. But on some level, isn’t this what Walcott is actually addressing in this piece?

In any case, it seemed awfully timely to focus on this piece right after the Multicultural Fair, because that is precisely what strikes me most about it– how poignantly and obviously MULTIcultural it is. The cultural awareness does not necessarily stem from racial differences, although that’s definitely a huge aspect of it– just the sheer number of times Walcott brings “whiteness” into the text stands out in itself. However, it is the idea of betrayal of one’s heritage rather than race that sticks out the most– “Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?” (27) This is reminiscent of some of the language Langston Hughes uses when he writes of his biracial background, and yet he has accepted and exemplified his own blackness in no uncertain terms. I think it is always difficult knowing “where to turn” in situations of multinational understanding of the self. Thoughts, yeses and nos?

Incidentally, did anyone notice that the first stanza of this piece has ten lines, the second has eleven, and the third has twelve? Weird… :)

Also, for your viewing/listening pleasure:

“Africa” by Toto, an 80s classic. I still can’t quite figure out what they’re talking about, though…



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