The very first time I saw Not My Business By Niyi Osundare, I so much liked it. Not My Business is far beyond a poem, a poem sculptured by a professional poetic artist which recalled a past experience. Niyi narrated the poem through the third and the first person point of view. As a Nigerian or anyone who has witnessed military oppression, the poem is an easy recap of unjust governance; where fundamental human rights are trampled upon_ no free movement, no free association, no freedom of speech, etc. Like a folk tale, the poem shows the implication of neighbors not standing up to assist their neighbour in need of help. The poem has a Nigerian setting as regards the the names of victims mentioned by the poem-speaker; Akanni (a Yoruba name) Danladi (a Hausa name) Chinwe (an Igbo name).
Few of the figures of speech in the poem are:
1) Simile is figure of speech in which one thing is compared to another, in the case of English generally using like or as. Example from the poem is "Beat him soft like clay" in line 2.
2) Refrain is a figure of speech that repeats a certain line or stanza in a literary work of art in order to create musical effect. Example from the poem is;
"What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?"
3) Symbolism is a figure of speech that uses the representation of a concept through symbols or underlying meanings of objects or qualities to represent such object. Example from the poem is Akanni, Danladi, and Chinwe which symbolized the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. "a lengthy absence" in line 11 is a symbolic imagery which means a long imprisonment.
4) Metaphor is a figure of speech that uses a word or phrase to refer to something that it isn’t, invoking a direct similarity between the word or phrase used and the thing described, but in the case of English without the words like or as, which would imply a simile. Example from the poem is "A knock on the door froze my hungry hand" where knock at the door was compared to very cold weather.
5) Alliteration is the repetition of consonants at the beginning of two or more words im<!--more-->mediately succeeding each other, or at short intervals. Example from the poem is "hungry hand" "went to work" "sack for a stainless record".
6) Personification is a figure of speech, prosopopeia, in which an inanimate object or an abstraction is given human qualities. Example from the poem is "Only to find her job was gone" in line 16, "And stuffed him down the belly/ Of a waiting jeep" in lines 3-4.
The theme in the poem are:
1) Victimization; many lines of the poem shows how different poetic characters suffer different forms of injustices. Akanni beaten for no reason, Danladi jailed without due process, Chinwe suffered job insecurity.
2) Tyranny and dictatorship; all the acts of brutality in the poem are clear traits of a tyrant dictator. And following the context of the poem, the poet reminded the readers of the Nigerian military brutality (which has now become a once-upon-a-time story)
3) What goes around comes around; is also another theme of the poem which teaches the lesson of oneness and unity. Many victims in the poem suffered abuses because there is no unity among people of such country; everyone is living for himself/herself alone. When every others are brutalised, the poem-speaker felt unconcerned until he was brutalised as well.
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Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying) <!--more-->