What Is the Poem “Africa” by David Diop About?
David Diop’s poem “Africa” reflects his hope for an independent African nation, and the problems brought to the continent by colonialism. Through this poem and other writings, Mr. Diop attempts to give a message of hope and resistance to the people of Africa.
The poem “Africa” was published in David Diop’s first and only book of poems, “Coups de Pillon,” in 1956. The title of the book is in French, and translates to “Hammer Blows and Pounding” in English.
Diop was born in exile, in France, in 1927. His mother was from Cameroon and his father was from Senegal. As a child, he often traveled between Europe and Africa, which is how his interest in the continent and its people began. One of his early influences was Aime Cesaire, one of the founders of the Negritude movement. David became active in the movement, and his feelings and beliefs against colonialism and assimilation were expressed in his poetry, such as “Africa.”
While some writers in this movement were bitter and pessimistic, Diop took a different path. Many of his poems expressed hopefulness and comfort for those in exile from Africa. He wrote about this in both a literal and figurative manner. For example, in “Africa,” he personifies the continent as an angry elder. The elder is aware of the impending revolution, and chides the narrator for thinking rash thoughts.