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Compare and contrast Not My Business by Niyi Osundare and First They Came for the Jews by Pastor Neimoller. What are the poets attitudes to the societies in which they live?

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Introduction

Compare and contrast 'Not My Business' by Niyi Osundare and 'First They Came for the Jews' by Pastor Neimoller. What are the poets' attitudes to the societies in which they live? 'Not My Business' written by Niyi Osundare in the 1990s and 'First They Came for the Jews' written by Pastor Neimoller in 1946 are two political poems about shared responsibility. Both poems are set in countries that were cruelly affected by dictatorship. Both poems involve stories about victims of dictatorship followed by the narrator's response towards them. They express similar attitudes to the societies in which they live as they give a clear idea of the barbarism innocent people were subjected to and speak of the selfish attitudes of self-indulgent people, who choose to turn a blind eye towards what happens around them as long as they are not affected. Set in Nigeria, the poem 'Not My Business' is used by the poet to protest against and express his views about the cruel dictatorship that ruled his country under General Sani Abacha from 1993 to 1998. This poem gives a clear idea of what the people were put through by General Sani Abacha, a usurper and a notorious dictator who took power by force. People suffered economic downturn, starvation and poverty while he was living a high life. During Abacha's rule, writing poetry was strictly prohibited but frustrated at the situation in his home country, unwilling to back down and determined to make a difference, Osundare spoke out against the repressive regimes and regularly wrote poems for a Nigerian newspaper. Similarly, 'First They Came for the Jews', written by Pastor Neimoller is based around the holocaust. In the early days, Neimoller was an anti-Communist who supported Hitler but as soon as Hitler decided on the supremacy of the state over religion, Neimoller was disillusioned and became the leading voice of a religious group who were opposed to Hitler. ...read more.

Middle

Osundare's clever use of verbs makes Danladi's arrest sound excruciating and ruthless. Towards the end of the second stanza the poet recollects how 'they' seized Danladi and took him away 'to a lengthy absence'. The use of euphemism creates a feeling of uncertainty. The poet effectively uses this indirect expression to substitute the terror that Danaladi could have faced either by imprisonment or even death. The uncertainty is very frightening because it emphasises the cruelty faced by these people. This arouses a lot of sympathy because Danaladi future remains unclear and his family is left to wait in the dark not knowing what would happen to him. Although stanza three doesn't involve violence or aggression, the readers would feel an overwhemming amount of solace at the grave injustice. It is extremely unfair that Chinwea "finds her job was gone". It appears that she wasn't told or informed earlier and the word 'find' tells us that she wasn't expectant of this and just woke up one day to discover that she lost her job for no apparent reason. This sudden incident of misfortune must have left her troubled and distressed about how to make ends meet. Secondly, the use of tripling in "no query, nowarning, no probe-.", stresses that it lacked the slightest bit of justice and largely emphasises the unfairness of the incident as she was given no warning, no explanation, no investigation was carried out and no queries were arised about this. The phrase 'stainless record' implies that she was an ideal worker and the adjective 'stainless' implies that she could not be faulted. The use of the adjective neat in 'neat sack' proves that it was an act of injustice. Another alarming aspect of the poem is that the events took place at different times of day. For instance Alkanni was tormented and subjected to such atrocity in clear daylight while Danaladi and his whole family was put through extreme truculence and was horrifically abused in the 'night' while they were sleeping. ...read more.

Conclusion

Additionally we have the privilege of free press where newspapers are not controlled by the government and are free to print different opinions and criticism without fear of arrest or imprisonment. Although a lot of people might feel this to be the normal way of life, this poem reminds us that there are a lot of people who are less fortunate. I found that 'Not my Business' left me with a lasting feeling. Although, 'First They Came for the Jews' is short, stark and hard-hitting, I found 'Not my business' more touching and heart felt. While 'First They Came for the Jews' gets straight to the point, 'Not My Business' made me feel a great deal of annoyance towards the narrator at the aggravating way in which he adamantly said "What business of mine is it?" The use of the word 'savoring mouth' is very effective to show that the narrator chose to be ignorant for his own selfish reasons. It also made me feel sick to the stomach at the torture the people were being put through. This was because of the obvious violence used, which was vividly expressed using brutal verbs, similes, personification and several other poetic techniques. I feel that the use of poetic techniques created the impact. There are very few poetic techniques in 'First they came for the Jews'. Nevertheless, both poems clearly express the poets' attitudes to the societies in which they live. I think that the element of karma included helps the poets to get their message across. Both narrators refused to take note of what didn't affect them and this selfish deed later became their downfall to clearly prove that 'what comes around goes around'. Both poems put across the significance of taking action to prevent injustice and oppression regardless of whether it affects you. While the poems arouse the readers sympathy because of the cruelty that happens to the victims, it not just a heart wrenching, grief stricken story, it is a wakeup call to people living under repressive regimes to stop keeping quiet and ignoring the situation. ...read more.

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