Finding Meaning In My Favourite Text.
Music is an inevitable part of a human life, and you may not be “human” if you say you don’t like or listen to music- at least one type must appeal to you. I sometimes feel like music is in my genes, and I am an appreciator of music, as long as the good beat goes with some great lyrics, and that was why Paapa Kwaku hMensa’s “Richest Man”, which tells the unheard story of the poor man who is clearly fed up with the arrogance of the rich man, “called out” to me. He feels content with what he has and refuses any help from the rich man, saying the rich man feels no pity and love for him. I was drawn initially to the song by the beat and rhythm of the song, and of course because I went to Ridge Church School with Paapa. The concepts in this paper; Ideology (for Marxist Literary theory), Identity, Hegemony and Ambivalence (for Post-colonial Theory) are tailored toward a total extrinsic analysis.
Terry Eagleton, a Marxist critic, says the task of Marxist literary criticism "is to show the text as it cannot know itself, to manifest those conditions of its making (inscribed in its very letter) about which it is necessarily silent" (Marxist Literary Criticism: A Brief Guide). Ideology, as used in the “Marxist Literary Criticism: A Brief Guide” describes ideology as “the shared beliefs and values held in an unquestioning manner by a culture. It governs what that culture deems to be normative and valuable.” For Marxists, ideology is determined by economics. A rough approximation: "tell me how much money you have and I'll tell you how you think" (Marxist Literary Criticism: A Brief Guide).
The dominant ideology in this text which is not immediately known is the superiority of the rich over the poor in the society. As stated earlier, for Marxists, ideology is determined by the economic state. This comes to play in the unquestioned statement of the poor practically having no say in the society because they are not endowed economically. I initially thought, growing up, that this was not so but maturity has taught me otherwise. I probably thought the way I did because I grew up in a very quiet part of Osu, near the Christianborg Castle, in Accra, where there was a no real attention was paid to who was rich and who was not. In a bid to refute the ideology of his culture, the text writer seeks to make his listeners understand the real worth of non-material things, saying that “material things perish anyway; I live for the things that always stay”. (hMensa, 2013)
Something I found difficult to understand initially was the seeming bitterness of the writer toward the ‘Rich Man’ but upon further study of the text I realized it was society that had made it so, thus creating a rift between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. It could have been changed, for the writer not to see the ‘Rich Man’ as selfish and unable to see his brother’s pain, but the society made it impossible for that, creating an ideology that has been...