Contemporary African poetry remains implicated in the life of politics and the fate of nations with a fixity of concern not found in Asia or the Caribbean. The end of colonialism was followed in most African countries by decades of native misrule. For three generations, African poets have given voice to a wide range of experiences, always conscious that their use of English links them across regional boundaries, while they present the language with the challenge of dealing with the local in all its uniqueness, in circumstances ravaged by civil war, natural disasters, human greed, and political misrule.
to kill the soul in a people—this is a crime which transcends
E. D. Morel, The Black Man's Burden
African poets represent their continent in a habitually tragic light. During the struggle for political decolonization, the Angolan poet Augustinho Neto (1922–79) described it as 'The Grieved Lands' (Moore and Beier 1998: 6). More recently, Niyi Osundare (b. 1947, Nigeria) describes it as 'a dinosaur left panting in the wilderness' (2002: 6). In 'Admonition to the Black World', Chinweizu (b. 1943 Nigeria) prefaces a litany of Africa's woes with a chronicle of all the invasions suffered by the peoples of the continent in ancient, medieval, and modern times. The bereavement of African poetry can be