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Published: 14-12-2019

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The poem ‘A Far Cry from Africa’ by Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott was born in 1930 in Saint Lucia. Belonging to both Anglo-European and Afro-Caribbean heritage, the duality in origin gave birth to a sort of identity crisis inside the poet. The principal theme of the poem is split identity and anxiety faced by the poet, caused due to mixed heritage. therefore the poem highlights the conflict in between his loyalties to Africa and to Britain.

In other words the poem draws an accounts of the Mau-Mau uprising, an extended and bloody battle amongst European settlers and the native Kikuyu tribe (what is now the republic of Kenya), In the early 20th century the very first white settlers arrived in Kanya forcing the Kikuyu folks off their tribal lands. Europeans took handle of their government. 1 faction of the Kikuyu people formed Mau-Mau a terrorist organization intent on removing all European influence from the nation, but the significantly less strident Kikuyu attempted to stay neutral or help the British defeat Mau-Mau.

Derek due to his mix heritage could side with neither party i.e., neither the Europeans nor the Native tribe. “I who am poisoned with the blood of each Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?” (27-28) The above line shows the poet’s inability to resolve his hybrid inheritance. Derek says that as he has blood of each Europe and Africa operating through his vein he can not decide on a side. This pessimistic image illustrates a feeling of displacement and isolation within Walcott. It appears that Walcott feels foreign in each cultures due to his lack of “pure” blood.

Derek is torn in between his love for his land Africa and his love for English language. Derek concerns the reader about his choice to pick amongst the two: “…,how select Between this Africa and the English tongue I really like? ”. The poem shows the poets displacement and isolation.

The intricate connection between the colonized and the colonizer and the ways in which the Caribbean self-embraces and split among various locations loyalties are central theme of Walcott’s writings.
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