New African Poetry : An Anthology

New African Poetry : An Anthology

by Tanure Ojaide, Tijan M. Sallah

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This provocative yet unsatisfying anthology presents what the editors call a "Third Generation" of African poets, those who came of age after their nations' independence. Of 62 poets from 23 countries, a plurality write in English; others appear in translation from Arabic, Portugese and French. Some now live in America and Europe; few enjoy reputations outside Africa. (One exception is Malawi's Jack Mapanje.) Some readers will scan this volume looking for news about daily life, culture and politics in these writers' states and landscapes. Other readers will seek original, interesting poems, in familiar or entirely unfamiliar genres and forms. Both kinds of readers will find some gems and many more letdowns. A Cape Verdean poet hopes "to read my revelries before they fade behind twilight clouds"; a writer from Ghana promises his enemies, "on wings of flames we'll rise... and rain rumours of blood/ upon their festive dreams." Zindzi Mandela (daughter of Nelson) has four poems here: one begins "There's an unknown river in Soweto/ some say it flows with blood/ others say it flows with tears." Both editors include their own poetry: Sallah's two-page "Television as God" explains that "In America television is a god/ Therapeutic to ailing hearts." Many poems protest deprivation, violence and misgovernment; they may be understood as contributions to political struggles, but the frequent clich s make them hard to enjoy. Mapanje's bitterly fluent, detail-conscious work stands among the volume's highlights. Other bright spots come from Musaemura Zimunya, whose anecdotes detail everyday need in Zimbabwe; from Sierra Leone's fiercely compelling Syl Cheney-Coker; and from Ghanian Kojo Laing, whose oration-cum-satire "I Am the Freshly Dead Husband" converts a funeral into a mordant sexual apocalypse. A book of those four poets' work would be something to treasure. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This anthology of "new" African poetry presents a body of valuable poetry inaccessible to readers in the West. Both respected poets, editors Ojaide (Nigeria) and Sallah (Gambia) group poets by region: nine poets from Central and East Africa; nine poets from North Africa; 14 poets from Southern Africa; and 30 poets from West Africa. Most of these 62 well-educated postcolonial poets more willingly embrace the ancestral "oratory" tradition of the African continent than poets with a Western literary orientation of the era of Leopold Senghor and Wole Soyinka. Instead of anti-colonialism, these poets focus on women's roles, rural life, and the need for creativity despite economic hardships. Realistic criticism of patriarchies and traditional taboos arises from a strong attachment to homeland. Overall, regional diversity seems to have replaced defensiveness of Pan-African unity. While poetry of Central, East, and West Africa is lively and plainspoken, there are only a handful of Arabic-oriented poems from North Africa, and the poetry of Southern Africa mostly confronts the scourge of apartheid. "Agents of change," these forward-looking and energetic poems reveal that new African poets "sing of a world reshaped."--Frank Allen, Northampton Community Coll., Tannersville, PA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Ojaide (African and African-American studies, U. of North Carolina) and poet Sallah present a representative sample of African poetry from the 1970s to the present. The poets explore political, economic, and cultural issues in African societies, but also their own experiences in the world. The arrangement is by region and country. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Product Details

Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Three Continents Ser.
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Mukula Kadima-Nzuji

(b. 1947)

* * *

Born in Lumumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire), Kadima-Nzuji has published three collections of poems: Les Ressacs (Kinshasa, 1969), Prelude a la Terre (Kinshasa, 1971), and Redire les Mots Anciens (Paris, 1977). The following poem was translated from the French by Gerald Moore.


Shocks of dizziness
my waves, my fears of the ocean
on the salty strand of my desire.

Shocks of carnal dreams
my heaps of loosened cliff
in the bitter absence
of sap mounting to the brim of the foam.

Loosened my pollens of drunkenness
and tied and retied my seaweeds
milky way of destinies.

And I hear
stooped over the virgin insomnia
of altitudes
the savage cries of the sea
and the rough backwash of my being.

Jared Angira

(b. 1947)

* * *

Angira studied commerce at the University of Nairobi, where he edited the literature department's magazine, Busara. He has worked in Dar es Salaam for the East African Harbours Corporation and has been Africa's representative on the International Executive Committee of the World University Service. His published poetry collections include Juices, Silent Voices (1972), Soft Corals,Cascades (1979), and Tides of Time: Selected Poems (1996). In many of his poems, as in Cascades, he sides with the poor and oppressed of his home country, Kenya.


Listening to the newsreel today
Is like watching an open wound
A painful conscription from which you emerge
Shaking like a leaf.

Ninety lives perished
In the jumbo flame

And on the telly screen
Focused only
A small sorrow
To encourage further viewing.

One hundred killed
In a palace attack

The caster's voice, indifferent,
Marks his distant observation tower
Cinematically passing the pain
To the listener, the viewer.

As if that is not enough
Flashes the last decapitate of the mind
Late news: Two hundred executed
By firing squad:
Imagine that, ten o'clock at night!


The public has no belief
In democracy:
It has mocked his expectations.

The public has no hope
In the party;
The party partitioned his self

For the zombies are the partisans,
The public the humble listener.

The public has no confidence
In the "nation,"
Has nationalised collectivity into individualism.

The public does not want sirens
Of witches
have idolised them into robots.

The public has no more patience
For philosophy
Filibustered too long with the basic needs.

The public now wants bread
At least to breed tomorrow.

The public now wants rice
At least to rise tomorrow.

The public is tired
Of following the rainbow.

The public wants to believe
That tomorrow will not be dead.

The public wants to believe
That behind tomorrow there is hope,
The conquest of man's destiny.

At least, the public wishes to sleep
In the understanding that on the morrow

He'll rise above the grave
Having conquered the long arms of contradictions.


In moments of anguish
I have even built hopes
On the glowing moon

Only, the glimmer sinks down the troubled ocean.

In moments of despair
I have incubated my eggs
In the warmth of the after-rain evaporation

Only, the warmth oozes down the troubled waters.

In moments of hope
I have visited the abandoned ship
Daring the cold solitude of the old wharves

Only, courage falls deep down the troubled waters.

What moments, shall
Idiotic diver, submerge the whirlpools
To hold up the winds for my sail?

And the troubled waters
Consume the whirlpools.


She asked me why I did such things:
I looked at the Sun, it shone at will.
She asked me when I'll do all that I should have done:
I thought of the rains that fall at will.
She asked me why I failed to fulfill my words:
The balance of payments rocked in a whirling mess.
She asked me why like the dumb I sat:
I thought of the stub of words, the blood they leave.
She asked me why I never laughed:
I thought of men who laugh in tears.
She asked me why no tango I danced:
And I recalled the cripples who'd never stood upright.
She asked me why I'd suddenly stopped to sprint like the hart:
I looked down the west and saw the sun sink slowly down.
She asked me why I was happy no more:
Across the sky I saw the rainbow arc
Across the road a mirage shone and quickly fled
And I recalled the dreams of the previous night.
She demanded the best the world could give.
And I recalled the rabble who had no vote.
She asked me why my life had rolled down the slopes
And I recalled the many tombs in the deserted vale.


Sometimes I sit in the balcony
    And watch the rivers of the world
Flow down the many deltas
    Impatiently awaited by the ocean deeps

Sometimes I watch
    The young birds of the air
Leave their parents to make a living
    But all in a pair, face to the world

When I long for peace
    Mind hovers with the quails
Knowing too well
    However tired the wings no landing on tree

When therefore I gather my selves
    Scattered like the rivers on land
I long for their waters
    To lead to the sea

And we all wish
    That after these travels
All scattered feelings
    Would converge
On that ocean, the livid.

Meet the Author

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >