Oct 2, 2012

The Africa Passage

By Shumaila Abbasi

The author writes this travelogue to clear the misconceptions held by the Europeans. He aims to show the positive side of Africa: jungles, rainforest, exotic animals and the resilience of Africans. Throughout the passage he aims to evoke respect for the Africans through a mood of fear.

In the first paragraph, the sun is personified as a predator that ‘ambushes’ and ’leaps(ing)’. Its aggressiveness is emphasized in the alliteration in the line 6. The writer uses harsh vocabulary such as ‘battled’, ‘burns’ and ‘exposed’ to emphasize the extreme living conditions of Africans. It evokes a fear of the sun and commends Africans who have been enduring it.

The writer then talks about the absence of mild temperature in Africa. The repetition of ‘no’ and ‘none’ and the use of ‘soft’ vocabulary such as ‘gentle’, ‘politesse’ and ‘cool’ is emphatic, as it highlights this absence. It poses a question to the Europeans: will you be able to survive in this climate? Also, it reinforces the overall purpose of the passage: Africans are survivors, leading the readers to respect them.

In the third paragraph, the sun is personified as a malicious creature that ‘leaps’ and ‘glares(ing)’. The suddenness at which it attacks is evident in the simile ‘jack-in-the-box.’ All of this is intended to create a mood of fear and intimidation, so that the readers commend the stamina of Africans who have been enduring the sun.

The fourth paragraph emphasizes the power of the sun and its dominance. The repetition of “It will” presents a warning of the sun’s actions. The readers sympathize with the Africans who are even deprived of the shade as the sun “eliminates’ it.

A transition takes place in the passage. The author talks about how in spite of the difficulties, Africans have learned to survive. The fragmentation of the sentences illustrates the slow movement of African life. He is praising them and this evokes a sense of admiration.

He further moves on to compare the gait of the Africans with that of Europeans. He praises the African’s walk, which has ‘poise’ and is critical of European’s, which is evident from the list in line 33. He shows the Europeans as awkward. It serves the purpose of the passage that Africans have a lot of positivity as well.
In the seventh paragraph he praises the women, using similes “ballerina” and “models.” He uses allusion of the Statue of Liberty to emphasize their freedom and pride. The list in lines 36-37 illustrates their skills and ability to maintain grace in spite of all the things they are carrying. Again the author is concentrating on the skills of and abilities of Africans and demolishing the pride of the Europeans.

Contrast in the eight paragraph of “highlands” and “depressions”, “deserts” and “pasturelands” illustrates the diversity of African landscape. The symbol of man on single leg forever evokes respect and awe as it shows Africans’ resilience. He is praising and admiring them.

Finally, the author provides a contrast of Africa, listing all the negative aspects like ‘walking skeletons’ and then positive in the list in lines 53-54. He wants to clear the misconception and wants people to see Africa for what it has to offer. It creates a mood of admiration and the reader is impressed.

“No” in the last paragraph is the author’s final assertion. He uses “dark” and “luminous” contrast to illustrate his point of what people think of Africa and what it actually is.


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