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Presented by :- Hetal Pathak
Roll No. :- 09
Enrollment no. :- 4069206420220022
Semester :- 4 (M.A.)
Paper no. :- 206
Paper code :- 22413
Paper name :- The African Literature
Topic :- Satirical Depths :A Study of Gabriel Okara’s Poem -
‘You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed.’
Submitted to :- Smt S.B. Gardi, Department of English,
M.K.B.U
E-mail :- hetalpathak28@gmail.com
Academic Details :-
Table of contents
01 02
04
03
05
Gabriel Okara About the Poem
Conclusion References
Exploring Satirical
depths through stanza
Gabriel Okara
Gabriel Okara, the Nigerian - born, English language poet
considered an African literary giant. He was born on April 24
1922 in the present day Bayelsa state of Nigeria, He went on
to study Journalism at Northwestern university in 1949, before
discovering his talent for poetry in 1953 when he won an
award at the Nigerian festival of Arts for his poem ‘The Call
of the River Nun.’ (Staff)
Gabriel Okara known as the first English language African
writer. (Durosomo)
The famous writer is regarded as the first ‘Modernist Poet of
Anglophone Africa.’ (Durosomo)
Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems includes the poet’s earliest lyric verse
along with poems written in response to Nigeria’s war years; literary
tributes and elegies to fellow poets, activists, and loved ones long dead;
and recent dramatic and narrative poems. (Okara and Osbey)
The introduction by Brenda Marie Osbey contextualizes Okara’s work in
the history of Nigerian, African, and English language literatures. Gabriel
Okara: Collected Poems is at once a treasure for those long in search of a
single authoritative edition and a revelation and timely introduction for
readers new to the work of one of Africa’s most revered poets.
(Okara and Osbey)
His poetry depicts that the suppressed people are trying to retrieve
the loss.
‘You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed’ is a poem by Nigerian poet Gabriel
Okara which are again a call back to Africa and African landscapes doing the
rounds with their populace, mannerism, language, way of life, culture, tradition,
society, dance, rhythm and musical beats. The words, laughed and laughed and
laughed add to the beauty of the poem and as because outplays the things of
racism and racial discriminations. (Dubey)
This poem is a satire on western people who consider themselves as superior
and Africans inferior. White people are comparing the sound of Black people’s
songs of emotions or pains with misfiring of car, because they used to criticize
the voice of black people as harsh and annoying. Here, poet Gabriel okara
satirizes white people they reflect their point of views as they are having every
kind of understanding - universal understanding towards everything.
About the Poem
In Michael J.C. Echeruo article titled - ‘Gabriel Okara : A Poet and His
Seasons’ mentions that the poem ‘You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed
seemed appropriately straightforward : proud without arrogance, hurting
without showing it, and blunt without rudeness. It is a poem to make the mind
Speak to the heart. when we read Gabriel Okara, however, the smile
Reappeared, for though Okara’s poetry too was protest poetry, the poetry of
frustration and even failure. (Echeruo)
Questions from Presentation
Question 1 :- To what extent does Okara employ satire to critique
white people in this particular poem?
Question 2 :- what deeper insights can be gleaned from analyzing
individual stanzas or lines within the poem?
Exploring Satirical depths through stanza
This poem is as discussion between the black natives and white people
which brings rules, beliefs and practices of African. Through the present
poem - ‘You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed’ the poet brought out
the sufferings faced by the native people in this poem. Black Africans
were laughed and mocked by white people.
By using the word ‘Laughed’ denoting the white, who dominated the
native for their abnormal actions. As an African poet Gabriel Okara
brought this concept in his poem and named it so. The poet mainly
focuses on the theme of racism faced by the people in Africa. White
people did not understand the feelings and pain.
In this poem, Okara stands tall against the foolishness of the colonialist who
laughs at his ‘dance’ and his ‘inside’, clinging to material objects like cars,
affected European manners, ice- block laughter, and other paraphernalia of
European Identity. In the first two stanzas, the speaker addresses an European
colonialist that laughs at African way of life. (Azuonye and Schildkrout)
‘In your ears my song
is motor car misfiring
stopping with a choking cough;
and you laughed and laughed and laughed.’ (Okara)
Gabriel Okara observes vivid imageries that are no more than projection of the
ugliness of his own post - industrialist world. The white man laughs because he
can only hear the cacophonous rancor of broken machines of his post -
industrialist world. (Azuonye and Schildkrout)
‘In your eyes my ante-
natal walk was inhuman, passing
your 'omnivorous understanding'
and you laughed and laughed and laughed.’ (Okara)
In these particular stanza of the poem, the phrases antenatal walk and
omnivorous understanding are deployed as vehicles for an attack on two of
the major pillars of Eurocentrism Racism and hegemony. (Azuonye and Schildkrout)
Here, Antenatal walk - walk of a pregnant woman and Omnivorous is also an
animal that eats plants and animals both. That is how white people mocked
black people.
In anticipation of his robust cultural nationalist defense of his indigenous
African heritage. The speaker attacks the iciness and unnaturalness of the
arrogant colonialist’s laughter. The speaker contrasts his own natural
laughter with the artificiality of that of the mocking colonialist.
‘And now it's my turn to laugh;
but my laughter is not
ice-block laughter. For I
know not cars, know not ice-blocks.’ (Okara)
By using Satirical lyrics, Gabriel Okara says that the colonialist’s laughter
is not only icy. It is also by default, comparable to mechanical products of
European industrialism.
(Azuonye and Schildkrout)
At last, In the final stanza of the poem, the mocking colonialist is awakened to the value
of the african cultural heritage that he mocks and and forced to ask the most important
question of all (Why?) to which he receives an answer that bespeaks of the poet’s
unwavering commitment to his indigenous heritage.
So a meek wonder held
your shadow and you whispered:
'Why so?'
'And I answered:
'Because my fathers and I
are owned by the living
warmth of the earth
through our naked feet.' (Okara)
Gabriel Okara’s position is that, in the matter of the culture of the colonizer and the
colonized, we are left with no choice one way or the other, but the inevitability of
reconciliation between both—the absolute inevitability of the acceptance of a
postcolonial synthesis. (Azuonye and Schildkrout)
Conclusion
To conclude, Gabriel Okara’s poem explores many things. Through
its satirical lens, it delves into the complexities of human nature. He
skillfully uses language and imagery to invite readers to confront
the truths. We all need to examine ourselves as well as society with
a critical eye. It makes us think about how we act and what we
believe.
References
Azuonye, Chukwuma, and Enid Schildkrout. “The White Man Laughs : Commentary on the Satiric Dramatic Monologues of Gabriel
Okara.” ScholarWorks at UMass Boston, 18 March 2023,
https://scholarworks.umb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=africana_faculty_pubs. Accessed 1 April 2024.
Dubey, Bijay Kant. “You Laughed And Laughed And Laughed By Gabriel Okara.” Accessed 1 April 2024.
Durosomo, Damola. “Nigerian Literary Icon Gabriel Okara Has Passed Away.” OkayAfrica, 26 March 2019,
https://www.okayafrica.com/nigerian-literary-icon-gabriel-okara-has-passed-away/. Accessed 1 April 2024.
Echeruo, Michael. “Gabriel Okara: A Poet and His Seasons.” vol. 66, 1992, pp. 454-456, https://www.jstor.org/stable/40148369.
Accessed 1 April 2024.
Okara, Gabriel. Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems. Edited by Brenda Marie Osbey, Nebraska, 2016.
Okara, Gabriel. “You Laughed And laughed And Laughed By Gabriel Okara – Pick Me Up Poetry.” Pick Me Up Poetry, 2 April 2022,
https://pickmeuppoetry.org/you-laughed-and-laughed-and-laughed-by-gabriel-okara/. Accessed 2 April 2024.
Staff, Harriet. “Nigerian Negritudist Gabriel Okara Dies at 97 by….” Poetry Foundation, 28 March 2019,
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet-books/2019/03/nigerian-negritudist-gabriel-okara-dies-at-97. Accessed 1 April 2024.
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Satirical Depths - A Study of Gabriel Okara's Poem - 'You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed'.

  • 1.
  • 2. Presented by :- Hetal Pathak Roll No. :- 09 Enrollment no. :- 4069206420220022 Semester :- 4 (M.A.) Paper no. :- 206 Paper code :- 22413 Paper name :- The African Literature Topic :- Satirical Depths :A Study of Gabriel Okara’s Poem - ‘You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed.’ Submitted to :- Smt S.B. Gardi, Department of English, M.K.B.U E-mail :- hetalpathak28@gmail.com Academic Details :-
  • 3. Table of contents 01 02 04 03 05 Gabriel Okara About the Poem Conclusion References Exploring Satirical depths through stanza
  • 4. Gabriel Okara Gabriel Okara, the Nigerian - born, English language poet considered an African literary giant. He was born on April 24 1922 in the present day Bayelsa state of Nigeria, He went on to study Journalism at Northwestern university in 1949, before discovering his talent for poetry in 1953 when he won an award at the Nigerian festival of Arts for his poem ‘The Call of the River Nun.’ (Staff) Gabriel Okara known as the first English language African writer. (Durosomo) The famous writer is regarded as the first ‘Modernist Poet of Anglophone Africa.’ (Durosomo)
  • 5. Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems includes the poet’s earliest lyric verse along with poems written in response to Nigeria’s war years; literary tributes and elegies to fellow poets, activists, and loved ones long dead; and recent dramatic and narrative poems. (Okara and Osbey) The introduction by Brenda Marie Osbey contextualizes Okara’s work in the history of Nigerian, African, and English language literatures. Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems is at once a treasure for those long in search of a single authoritative edition and a revelation and timely introduction for readers new to the work of one of Africa’s most revered poets. (Okara and Osbey) His poetry depicts that the suppressed people are trying to retrieve the loss.
  • 6. ‘You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed’ is a poem by Nigerian poet Gabriel Okara which are again a call back to Africa and African landscapes doing the rounds with their populace, mannerism, language, way of life, culture, tradition, society, dance, rhythm and musical beats. The words, laughed and laughed and laughed add to the beauty of the poem and as because outplays the things of racism and racial discriminations. (Dubey) This poem is a satire on western people who consider themselves as superior and Africans inferior. White people are comparing the sound of Black people’s songs of emotions or pains with misfiring of car, because they used to criticize the voice of black people as harsh and annoying. Here, poet Gabriel okara satirizes white people they reflect their point of views as they are having every kind of understanding - universal understanding towards everything. About the Poem
  • 7. In Michael J.C. Echeruo article titled - ‘Gabriel Okara : A Poet and His Seasons’ mentions that the poem ‘You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed seemed appropriately straightforward : proud without arrogance, hurting without showing it, and blunt without rudeness. It is a poem to make the mind Speak to the heart. when we read Gabriel Okara, however, the smile Reappeared, for though Okara’s poetry too was protest poetry, the poetry of frustration and even failure. (Echeruo)
  • 8. Questions from Presentation Question 1 :- To what extent does Okara employ satire to critique white people in this particular poem? Question 2 :- what deeper insights can be gleaned from analyzing individual stanzas or lines within the poem?
  • 9. Exploring Satirical depths through stanza This poem is as discussion between the black natives and white people which brings rules, beliefs and practices of African. Through the present poem - ‘You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed’ the poet brought out the sufferings faced by the native people in this poem. Black Africans were laughed and mocked by white people. By using the word ‘Laughed’ denoting the white, who dominated the native for their abnormal actions. As an African poet Gabriel Okara brought this concept in his poem and named it so. The poet mainly focuses on the theme of racism faced by the people in Africa. White people did not understand the feelings and pain.
  • 10. In this poem, Okara stands tall against the foolishness of the colonialist who laughs at his ‘dance’ and his ‘inside’, clinging to material objects like cars, affected European manners, ice- block laughter, and other paraphernalia of European Identity. In the first two stanzas, the speaker addresses an European colonialist that laughs at African way of life. (Azuonye and Schildkrout) ‘In your ears my song is motor car misfiring stopping with a choking cough; and you laughed and laughed and laughed.’ (Okara) Gabriel Okara observes vivid imageries that are no more than projection of the ugliness of his own post - industrialist world. The white man laughs because he can only hear the cacophonous rancor of broken machines of his post - industrialist world. (Azuonye and Schildkrout)
  • 11. ‘In your eyes my ante- natal walk was inhuman, passing your 'omnivorous understanding' and you laughed and laughed and laughed.’ (Okara) In these particular stanza of the poem, the phrases antenatal walk and omnivorous understanding are deployed as vehicles for an attack on two of the major pillars of Eurocentrism Racism and hegemony. (Azuonye and Schildkrout) Here, Antenatal walk - walk of a pregnant woman and Omnivorous is also an animal that eats plants and animals both. That is how white people mocked black people.
  • 12. In anticipation of his robust cultural nationalist defense of his indigenous African heritage. The speaker attacks the iciness and unnaturalness of the arrogant colonialist’s laughter. The speaker contrasts his own natural laughter with the artificiality of that of the mocking colonialist. ‘And now it's my turn to laugh; but my laughter is not ice-block laughter. For I know not cars, know not ice-blocks.’ (Okara) By using Satirical lyrics, Gabriel Okara says that the colonialist’s laughter is not only icy. It is also by default, comparable to mechanical products of European industrialism. (Azuonye and Schildkrout)
  • 13. At last, In the final stanza of the poem, the mocking colonialist is awakened to the value of the african cultural heritage that he mocks and and forced to ask the most important question of all (Why?) to which he receives an answer that bespeaks of the poet’s unwavering commitment to his indigenous heritage. So a meek wonder held your shadow and you whispered: 'Why so?' 'And I answered: 'Because my fathers and I are owned by the living warmth of the earth through our naked feet.' (Okara) Gabriel Okara’s position is that, in the matter of the culture of the colonizer and the colonized, we are left with no choice one way or the other, but the inevitability of reconciliation between both—the absolute inevitability of the acceptance of a postcolonial synthesis. (Azuonye and Schildkrout)
  • 14. Conclusion To conclude, Gabriel Okara’s poem explores many things. Through its satirical lens, it delves into the complexities of human nature. He skillfully uses language and imagery to invite readers to confront the truths. We all need to examine ourselves as well as society with a critical eye. It makes us think about how we act and what we believe.
  • 15. References Azuonye, Chukwuma, and Enid Schildkrout. “The White Man Laughs : Commentary on the Satiric Dramatic Monologues of Gabriel Okara.” ScholarWorks at UMass Boston, 18 March 2023, https://scholarworks.umb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=africana_faculty_pubs. Accessed 1 April 2024. Dubey, Bijay Kant. “You Laughed And Laughed And Laughed By Gabriel Okara.” Accessed 1 April 2024. Durosomo, Damola. “Nigerian Literary Icon Gabriel Okara Has Passed Away.” OkayAfrica, 26 March 2019, https://www.okayafrica.com/nigerian-literary-icon-gabriel-okara-has-passed-away/. Accessed 1 April 2024. Echeruo, Michael. “Gabriel Okara: A Poet and His Seasons.” vol. 66, 1992, pp. 454-456, https://www.jstor.org/stable/40148369. Accessed 1 April 2024. Okara, Gabriel. Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems. Edited by Brenda Marie Osbey, Nebraska, 2016. Okara, Gabriel. “You Laughed And laughed And Laughed By Gabriel Okara – Pick Me Up Poetry.” Pick Me Up Poetry, 2 April 2022, https://pickmeuppoetry.org/you-laughed-and-laughed-and-laughed-by-gabriel-okara/. Accessed 2 April 2024. Staff, Harriet. “Nigerian Negritudist Gabriel Okara Dies at 97 by….” Poetry Foundation, 28 March 2019, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet-books/2019/03/nigerian-negritudist-gabriel-okara-dies-at-97. Accessed 1 April 2024.
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