“Her screams loud and vain” (“Africa” 21), “her history slain” (“Africa” 23), “two Niles her tears” these passages are filled with such passion pain and anguish that is no wonder that any person can get completely caught up in them. I, a simple English student with more ambition than skill, have been swept away by the historical reference set to a sweet rhythm. The purpose of this paper is to provide a complete character study over “Africa”, by Maya Angelou.
The main character of “Africa” is the author Maya Angelou. She does this by narrating the piece. She expresses that Africa, and alimentally herself, are strong black women. She does this when she writes “…mountains her breast two Niles her tears Thus she has lain Black through the years” (“Africa” 5-8).
In this passage she openly expresses that Africa is a black woman that has been repressed throughout history for what she is. Angelou also adds at the end “her history slain now she is striding although she has lain” (“Africa” 23-25).
This demonstrates that although Africa has been repressed in the past, now she has stepped forward leaving her past behind her. Because of this Africa is now stronger. It is because of Maya Angelou’s understanding towards the great continent and the way she chooses to decode Africa that implies that in fact the author is also a strong but once repressed black woman. The tone in which Maya Angelou writes during “Africa” is one of pride and remembrance. “Brigands ungentle icicle cold took her young daughters and sold her strong sons” (“Africa” 11-14), implies that Africa still feels the pain of white men English enslaving her black children and “Churched her with Jesus bled her with guns” (“Africa” 15-16).
... with black pride, her poetry conveys the struggles and triumphs of African-Americans during the past forty years. Maya Angelou is a remarkable Renaissance woman ... pushed for desegregation and equal rights in the face of strong white opposition, and it sometimes became violent. Many whites ... his tribe not taken by the slave ships from native Africa. Now these are no ordinary people, because they have ...
Though Africa “remembers her pain remembers her losses” (“Africa” 19-20) “Now she is rising” (“Africa” 18).
This means that Africa has collected her loses and tragedies and placed them close to her heart allowing her to grow stronger rather than laying down and take the misery and torture anymore. This also implies that Maya Angelou has somehow put her past behind her and is now striding forward with her own life shouting it to the world of literature rather than whispering it into private ears.
The way that Angelou portrays Africa has a human being gives an idea of how she conducts herself personal. “Thus she has lain sugar cane sweet” (“Africa” 1-2) expresses that Africa, though being repeatedly slapped in the face by the aggression taken out against her country, remains gentle and nurturing. Angelou as well has been put down by others. Yet instead of lashing out at those opposing her, she has taken their actions “sugar cane sweet” (“Africa” 2) and put the needs of others in front of her own. In contrast to the beginning however, at the end of the poem Africa now “screams loud and vain” (“Africa” 21) meaning that Africa is, through with her unselfish giving, is now demanding forcefully to be looked at through the strength of her own injustices.
Africa and Angelou change throughout this piece of literary work. “Thus she had lain” (“Africa” 1) in the beginning of the poem drastically change in the end to be striding as implied when the author says “now she is striding although she had lain”
This is the same as saying that earlier her existence she was to weak and mild to stand up for herself, and now she has gained strength. Not only the strength to stand but run because of the terrible losses she has acquired.
Maya Angelou is a very triumphant woman. She has written many books and poems that have given her great success. If one would talk to her, he or she would think she has lead a normal, happy life. Her life is blissful now, but it wasn?t always perfect. Maya Angelou?s sorrowful life experiences inspired her to write autobiographical works of poetry. Maya Angelou was born April 4, 1928 as Marguerite ...
Angelou encourages the audience to react sympathetically to the great and almighty continent of Africa through out this poem. She does this by saying “two Niles her tears” (“Africa” 6) and “remember her pain remember her losses” (“Africa” 19-20).
She is remaining the audience of the many tragedies that have been preformed upon Africa’s soil. These great tragedies are in fact the “brigands ungentle icicle bold took her young daughters sold her strong sons” (“Africa” 11-14) and “churched her with Jesus bled her with guns” (“Africa” 15-17).
Africa never got over the fact that the English came across the ocean to use her precious people as slaves for far off countries and sled many more because they refused to believe and worship the English’s vision of God.
Maya Angelou, in the poem “Africa”, presents the continent, as well as herself, as strong black woman torn by her past and remains yet strong and proud while stepping into the future. As I look into my own chaotic and misunderstood world I realize that instead of being resentful and in so many cases ready to lash out at my own injustices that I should hold my tragedies close to my heart and draw strength from it. This reminds me of saying I once read on the side of a toilet stall. “Live your life like a duck, calm and unfurled on top and paddling like hell underneath.” It is my suggestion to all that they adhere to this advise for their own sanity.
Angelou, Maya. “Africa” Literature: Reading, Reacting, and Writing. 4th ed. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. Fort Worth : Harcourt, 2001.