OK, we know you're singing that song from the Herbal Essences commercials in your head right now. You know, the one that starts "You make me feel like a natural woman"? Well, in lots of ways, that's precisely what this poem is trying to do for Africa. With all of that intense natural imagery, Africa becomes not just a landscape but a voluptuous woman. Angelou reclaims all of the nineteenth-century stereotypes about the dangerous desirability of black women, turning their desirability into a natural (and historical) phenomenon.
- Line 2: Describing the woman as "sugarcane sweet" creates a potent image, one that also happens to reflect one of the natural resources of Africa.
- Line 3: Anthropomorphizing the desert into a woman's hair makes this image into a continuing picture of a single woman.
- Line: 5 Once again, anthropomorphism and strong imagery combine to make this line another bit of the woman-as-Africa.
- Line: 6 The Nile as tears? That's a larger-than-life image which is quickly turning into a conceit (an extended metaphor comparing Africa to a beautiful woman).