Review of City Johannesburg
This poem City Johannesburg is about a man called Mongane Wally
Serote. He wrote about his life during apartheid. He wrote this
because one day he got arrested and was left in prison for nine
months. When he was finally released he was very angry. A couple of
years later he wrote this poem.
In this poem Serote speaks of the difficulties created for black
people by the law which required them to carry a pass at all times, it
also speaks of restrictions it placed on black people.
We notice that at the beginning of the poem Serote speaks of life, but
further down towards the end of the poem he talks about death. This is
quite contrasting, as we notice that he compares the things he loves
with death. 'When I go back to my dongas, my dust, my people, my
death,' this signifies that although he's going back to the people and
things he loves death is typified as being in a white supremacy,
because the white people have the power and control over those less
The poem is written as a narrative poem, irregular and only has one
stanza. Some of the lines thought at the poem are short which provided
impact. I think that Serote wrote this poem in order to show people
how the ethnic minority of that time were oppressed and the
difficulties that they faced by their white counter parts.
Serote uses imagery to convey this for example he uses 'I salute you'
this is very effective as the image that comes to mind when these
words are said is his hand reaching to his head, this in effect
suggests a warm greeting or a welcome but instead Serote puts his
hands is in his back trousers pocket for his pass. These few lines
express a mocking tone as it depicts fear and anxiety and is shown not
to be a proper salute. It continues by saying that his pass is his
life. These two concepts together show they are both as important as
each other. This is because without his pass he has no life.
It appears that Serote repeats the words 'Jo' Burg City' many times
throughout the poem, this suggests that he was very familiar with the
city as he has been there so long. The writer uses similes such as 'my
hand like a starved snake rears my pockets'. This simile shows how
nervous he is because he is looking for his pass, it also has a lot of
depth to it because if you imagine a...