Study Guide

Africa Transformation

By Maya Angelou

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A continent turns into a woman. A placid land is pillaged by invading forces. Entire peoples are changed utterly by the violence of religion and warfare. Weak people (and nations) begin to become powerful forces. There are transformations all over this poem, folks. Given the short number of lines, it's actually pretty remarkable how much is going on.

Questions About Transformation

  1. Does this poem have a "happy" ending? What helps you come to your conclusion?
  2. Do you think Angelou overlooks the problems of modern-day Africa? Why or why not?
  3. Why do you think Angelou starts with an image of Africa as a mythic woman? How does that fit in with the history of Africa she develops in the next two stanzas?
  4. Is the Africa we encounter at the end of the poem different from the one we meet in Stanza 1? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Angelou overlooks the problems of present-day Africa because the only way to understand the present is to look at the past.

The Africa in the beginning of the poem is a sad one, with tears for eyes and deserts for hair. Angelou shows its transformation from a wounded continent to one that is "rising."

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