Poetry is considered the earliest literary genre presented in written form. Oral literature, is however recognized as the earliest form.
Numerous poetic pieces exist, which depict the African culture. These poems originate from within and outside Africa. The common factor in all poems from Africa is the clear depiction of the African lifestyle using symbolic images. Poetry from Africa is consistent with the political, social and economic environment of its production. See below some poems from Africa alongside application of the poems.

“I Will Pronounce Your Name”, by Leopold Sedar Sengor

I will pronounce your name, Naett, I will declaim you, Naett!
Naett, your name is mild like cinnamon, it is the fragrance in which the lemon grove sleeps
Naett, your name is the sugared clarity of blooming coffee trees
And it resembles the savannah, that blossoms forth under the masculine ardour of the midday sun
Name of dew, fresher than shadows of tamarind,
Fresher even than the short dusk, when the heat of the day is silenced,
Naett, that is the dry tornado, the hard clap of lightning
Naett, coin of gold, shining coal, you my night, my sun!…
I am you hero, and now I have become your sorcerer, in order to pronounce your names.
Princess of Elissa, banished from Futa on the fateful day.

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“Night of Sine”, by Leopold Sedar Senghor

Woman, place your soothing hands upon my brow,

Your hands softer than fur.

Above us balance the palm trees, barely rustling

In the night breeze. Not even a lullaby.

Let the rhythmic silence cradle us.

Listen to its song. Hear the beat of our dark blood,

Hear the deep pulse of Africa in the mist of lost villages.

Now sets the weary moon upon its slack seabed

Now the bursts of laughter quiet down, and even the storyteller

Nods his head like a child on his mother’s back

The dancers’ feet grow heavy, and heavy, too,

Come the alternating voices of singers.

Now the stars appear and the Night dreams

Leaning on that hill of clouds, dressed in its long, milky pagne.

The roofs of the huts shine tenderly. What are they saying

So secretly to the stars? Inside, the fire dies out

In the closeness of sour and sweet smells.

Woman, light the clear-oil lamp. Let the Ancestors

Speak around us as parents do when the children are in bed.

Let us listen to the voices of the Elissa Elders. Exiled like us

They did not want to die, or lose the flow of their semen in the sands.

Let me hear, a gleam of friendly souls visits the smoke-filled hut,

My head upon your breast as warm as tasty dang streaming from the fire,

Let me breathe the odor of our Dead, let me gather

And speak with their living voices, let me learn to live

Before plunging deeper than the diver

Into the great depths of sleep.

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“Notebook”, by Aime Cesaire

A bit of light that descends the springhead of a gaze
twin shadow of the eyelash and the rainbow on a face
and round about
who goes there angelically
ambling
Woman the current weather
the current weather matters little to me
my life is always ahead of a hurricane
you are the morning that swoops down on the lamp a night stone
between its teeth
you are the passage of seabirds as well
you who are the wind through the salty ipomeas of consciousness
insinuating yourself from another world
Woman
you are a dragon whose lovely color is dispersed and darkens so
as to constitute the
inevitable tenor of things
I am used to brush fires

Analysis of this poem >>


“Mississippi” by, Aime Cesaire

Too bad for you men who don’t notice that my eyes remember
slings and black flags
which murder with each blink of my Mississipi lashes

Too bad for you men who do not see who do not see anything
not even the gorgeous railway signals formed under my eyelids by the black and red discs
of the coral snake that my munificence coils in my Mississipi tears

Too bad for you men who do not see that in the depth of the reticule where chance has
deposited our Mississipi eyes
there waits a buffalo sunk to the very hilt of the swamp’s eyes

Too bad for you men who do not see that you cannot stop me from building to his fill
egg-headed islands of flagrant sky
under the calm ferocity of the immense geranium of our sun.

Analysis of this poem >>


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