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City Johannesburg - review

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Introduction

City Johannesburg This poem City Johannesburg is about a man called Mongane Wally Serote. He wrote about his life during apartheid. He wrote this because one day he got arrested and was left in prison for nine months. When he was finally released he was very angry. A couple of years later he wrote this poem. In this poem Serote speaks of the difficulties created for black people by the law which required them to carry a pass at all times, it also speaks of restrictions it placed on black people. We notice that at the beginning of the poem Serote speaks of life, but further down towards the end of the poem he talks about death. This is quite contrasting, as we notice that he compares the things he loves with death. 'When I go back to my dongas, my dust, my people, my death,' this signifies that although he's going back to the people and things he loves death is typified as being in a white supremacy, because the white people have the power and control over those less fortunate. ...read more.

Middle

These two concepts together show they are both as important as each other. This is because without his pass he has no life. It appears that Serote repeats the words 'Jo' Burg City' many times throughout the poem, this suggests that he was very familiar with the city as he has been there so long. The writer uses similes such as 'my hand like a starved snake rears my pockets'. This simile shows how nervous he is because he is looking for his pass, it also has a lot of depth to it because if you imagine a starved shake clenching onto a piece of food. In the same way you can imagine him clenching to his back pocket. 'For my thin ever lean wallet,' this quote links in to the previous one because it indicates his lack of money. Therefore it also shows his economic status in that city. The poet uses a lot of emotive language in this poem to try and make the readers understand the hardship for black people ...read more.

Conclusion

He wanted people to understand and see the segregation that was evident in his time and the oppression being mete out upon the less fortunate due to laws conjured by white people. Serote wanted people to appreciate that these laws were unfair and destroying the lives of vulnerable people. I conclude by saying that the emotive language used throughout the poem identifies with the oppression 'where death lurks in the dark like a blade in the flesh' for me this final statement re-emphasises the blade, which is a knife being held close to a person who if he moves without being told to will be killed. This without a doubt shadows the deep pain and turmoil Serote really feels inside. This poem has made me realise that black people had no place in life. It also showed me how life had changed for the better. I felt that this poem was very touching as it made me feel sorry for who had to live life knowing that at any time death could be waiting for them. 1 ...read more.

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