Is there hyperbole in David Diop's poem "Africa"?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no intentional hyperbole in "Africa." One could argue that Diop exaggerates the nature of Africa by suggesting that all of Africa is dark, humiliated, and warrior-like.  But, most would argue that that is not the author's intent.

More concrete, obvious devices from "Africa" are alliteration, apostrophe, parallelism, and paradox.

Alliteration = "beautiful black blood," "faded flowers," and "bit by bit acquires/ The bitter taste"

Apostrophe= the whole poem is an apostrophe. Diop addresses an object (Africa), or if one discusses his personification of the continent, the poet addresses an absent "person" because he is physically distant from his heritage.

Parallelism = notice the three consecutive lines from the middle of the poem ("The blood of your sweat/ The sweat of your work/ The work of your slavery")

Paradox = Diop's last line: "The bitter taste of liberty." It does not seem to make sense that one would have a bitter taste from liberty. But if the reader considers that America, a country built on freedom and liberty, built it on the backs of African slaves, the line makes sense.  Moreover, as more African countries struggle for liberty and independence, they face chaos, disease, coups, and various other difficulties which cause Africans to wonder if freedom is really worth it.

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