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by Maya Angelou

Africa Theme of Suffering

Don't get us wrong – there's lots of suffering all over the world. If you happen to pay attention to recent history, though, you'll probably know that Africa often seems to get the raw end of the deal. Droughts, violence, and poverty just seem to keep on hitting some of the poorest countries in the world – and we haven't even begun to talk about the violence of the slave trade. When it comes to suffering, believe us, this poem knows what it's talking about.

Questions About Suffering

  1. Why do you think Angelou describes the things that Africa suffers as attacks on a female body?
  2. What do you think causes Africa the most suffering in this poem?
  3. What is the impact of Angelou's transforming nouns (church) into verbs ("churched")?
  4. Who is Angelou's speaker addressing when she commands someone to "see" the suffering?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The taking and abusing of her people is what causes Africa the most suffering in this poem.

Angelou describes the things Africa suffers as attacks on a female body because these attacks are like rape; the attackers wound and take things from Africa against her will.

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