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A Critique Of African Protest Poetry

1756 words - 7 pages

What is Protest Literature
Protest literature conveys different definitions and meanings. According to Stauffer, "there is no common understanding of protest literature; the term has been used to mean almost all literature or no literature". Therefore, every genre can be described as "protest literature" because literature is a way and art of showing emotions, values and concerns. Because of the uncertainty of the definition, Stauffer provides a wide range of norms that can help classify the literature according to his views.
Stauffer enumerates a set of norms that helps classify by what he means by protest literature. Firstly, he defined protest literature as language that changes the society and self. In addition, Stauffer went deeper by describing the literature as a "catalyst or mirror of social change". Furthermore, some of the necessary requirements for protest literature stated by Stauffer are three in number. They are empathy and symbolic action, in which empathy promotes shock value, inspires emotions and desires, and symbolic action supports interpretation.
Even though almost all literature can be called protest literature in a sense that they all portray a point of theme or view, protest literature has to be specifically written for change. In other words, the writer needs to have specific goals for change in society or individuals from the very start. Therefore, the effects of protest literature cannot simply be spontaneous or by accident. Furthermore, protest literature cannot be judged by how effective it is. This shows that protest literature fails to persuade or "convert" even one individual, the literature is still consider a success because a point has been made which results in acknowledgement. It is this acknowledgement at the beginning that starts change.
The existence of Protest Literature is in different forms throughout literary history. Some of the greatest literary scholars in history have employed their talents toward awakening the public to injustices locally and world-wide

African protest poetry
African protest poets have always been their nation’s conscience voice. They have through history use their poetic skills to criticize and create a positive change in the political system of their respective countries. They also reveal and berate the social ills and corrupt practices of power brokers in their country. Also, the common thread that binds all African protest poets together is the tacit understanding of the suffering of the subaltern and the ability to raise their voice for their cause.
Some of these protest poets have been punished by imprison them illegally. Their poems are also banned. All these persecutions do not stop them from continue to battle against evil political system that increases the suffering of downtrodden
In the study of evolution of African protest poetry, the poetry can be classified into colonial and post colonial era. Prior to the independent of most African countries...

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