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33 pages 1 hour read

Derek Walcott

A Far Cry From Africa

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1962

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Poem Analysis

Analysis: “A Far Cry from Africa”

Walcott’s “A Far Cry from Africa” tackles the complexities of identity and colonization through a close examination of the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya between 1952-1960. Utilizing the rich flora and fauna of Africa, the poem establishes a dichotomy between nature and civilization in order to critique humanity’s proclivity toward violence. The speaker has a diverse racial background. He both declares his deep love for the English language and his deep disapproval of English colonial occupation in Kenya. However, he also strongly opposes the violent tactics the Kenyans, or Kikuyu, are using in their fight to overthrow the British regime.

The poem opens with an almost cinematic quality, describing a vast savannah with rustling grassland and comparing the grasses of Africa to an animal pelt. The animal comparison establishes Africa itself as an animal with a “tawny pelt” (Line 1) blowing in the above-mentioned breeze. The animal rustled by wind suggests that a wind of change is afoot. The Kikuyu move across this landscape, as apt to the environment as swift and agile flies. By comparing the Kikuyu to flies, this idea that they “Batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt” (Line 3) connotes a locking down or attaching (i.

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