In the shadows of Signal hill Essop Patel

Topics: Poetry, Oppression Pages: 3 (976 words) Published: May 5, 2015
In the shadow of Signal Hill Essop Patel
in the howling wind
by the murky waters
of the sea
children of colour
gather shells
and hold them to their ears
and listen to the lamentations of slaves
in the dungeons of death
in the howling wind
by the murky waters
of the sea
sons of langa
gather at the ruins of district six
and sharpen the spears of the night
and the heroes from the island
go towards the fiery dawn … 16

1. When the poet says “listen to the lamentations of slaves” (line 7) he probably refers to the cries of the slaves due to the known hardships that slaves endured in the history between 1652 and 1832 in the Cape. The Cape used to be the halfway stop on the trade routes and a lot of slaves were used to be able to provide adequate supplies to seafarers on their journey. The whole civilization and trade during that time was built on the use of slaves but they were not treated very well. They endured hardships like torture, abuse and neglect because they were disposable to the slave owners. When the poet refers to “sons of langa” (line 12) we find that it could have two separate but also connected meanings. “Langa” literally means sun witch leads us to the impression that he refers to the children of the sun meaning the people close to nature indicating the natives but also he could be referring to the people that lived and originated from the Langa township where black people was forced to live during the apartheid regiment because of the Urban Areas Act from 1923. The last of the areas where people of different races were living together was district six. People were forced to move away from there and leave their homes forcibly and thus leaving “the ruins of district six” (line 13). By referring to “heroes from the island” (line 15), the poet acknowledges the people that was incarcerated on Robin island because of their involvement is the struggle against apartheid. These people are deemed heroes because of their courage to stand up...

Bibliography: Introduction to English Literary Studies (Gwen Kane; Deirdre Byrne; Ruth Scheepers)
Published by
Oxford University Press - South Africa
Photo supplied by: Liezl Blignaut©2014
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