Department of English, UNILAG.
“Akintunde, Come Home” is a free verse poem based on its form. The poem is a reflection of the Nigerian society, just as literature mirrors and reflects the society. “Akintunde, Come Home” exposes political ills prevalent in Nigeria; it reflects the malevolence and corrupt practises of African political leaders exhibited in their act of governing. The poet who seems to be more experienced, elderly and politically vigilant than the addressee exposes dubious acts of African leaders. The poem could be said to be a piece of advice or admonishment to young minds who find themselves in this political realm of corruption. The tone of the poet is rather persuasive as he calls political minds back to order. Apparently, its truthfulness to life is portrayed by the themes that can be derived from the poem. Some of these themes are: oppression; corruption; selfish ambitions; repercussion etc. Also, this poem, as an African poem, portrays core African values as seen in the way the persona employs adages to make his point clearer.
The poem opens with a rhetorical question of an African adage; “if a man’s mouth is small must he borrow a bigger one to talk to his child?” This adage brings us to a typical African society where proverbs are used to convey messages of inspiration, consolation, advice and many more, but precisely, the African adage used at the opening of this poem could be said to convey a message of advice and admonishment. The use of this adage portrays the poet as a typical African who is concerned on voicing his intent to his addressee on a pressing issue. Adages are common in African societies as it opens ground for dialogues; great writers like “Chinua Achebe” make use of adages in their works; novels, essays, poems etc. to make it full of wisdom. Africans believe in the truthfulness and effectiveness of adages on dialogues, even “Chinua Achebe” once wrote; “proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten”. Evidently, the adage used at the beginning of the poem shows its truthfulness to life as it shows us a picture of the African society.
In addition, the African society is governed by cold-blooded leaders with selfish ambitions. The poet in a serious manner, exposes the corrupt practises and malevolence of political leaders in the African society. Some of these callous acts by the ruling elites include: unfulfilled campaign promises; disregard for the poor; overpowering the weak, among other things as displayed and carefully highlighted in the poem.
Furthermore, the poem’s truthfulness to life is clearly seen in themes of oppression, corruption, selfish ambitions and repercussion, these themes aptly describe the nature of African politics. Oppression and corruption complements African politics as shown in the poem: “…where life is a race in which the strong trample the weak, dashing for the flattering fragments of stolen trophies”. Corruption takes most part of African politics as African leaders engage in looting of public funds, embezzlement of public funds and the likes. Oppression also is not left out as striving citizens are impoverished through deprivation of some rights. Rich politicians in the society look down on the poor with contempt. All these themes, undoubtedly, are aids that strengthen the fact that Niyi Osundare’s poem, “Akintunde, Come Home”, is one which accurately describes issues that are plaguing the African society.
Niyi Osundare also subscribes to the classical, or rather human law of retributive justice. This belief can be placed under the theme of repercussion. Repercussion, as employed in this poem, denotes that there are always consequences for every human action, be it good or bad. This can be seen in the poem as the speaker admonishes his addressee to quickly return to his roots before he would become a victim of the cases aforementioned. The persona vividly portrays his belief in repercussions in this line: “Come home before the sword you wield turns round to claim your neck.”
In conclusion, the who’ve explanations clearly show the relationship between the poem and realism: its truthfulness to life. The use of an African adage at the opening of the poem and themes that relates to present happenings in the African society evidently depicts the truthfulness of the poem to life. Also, from a mimetic point of view the poem could be said have being written in an attempt to curb political ills.