Cultural Dichtonomy in ''Piano and Drums''




   The poem ''piano and drums''  by Gabriel Okara is a poem about cultural dichtonomy of the traditional and western/European culture in Africa. The poem focuses on the particular and popular theme of clash and cultures. It explores African culture and western culture in terms of both quality and power of attraction.
     Both thematically and structurally, the poet makes use of contrast. Both cultures are represented with two musical instruments. Jungle drums symbolises African culture,its simple and mystic
         ''I hear jungle drums telegraphing
          like mystic rythms,urgent,raw''
 The jungle drum is simple and it requires no systematic way of playing the instrument. The piano on the other hand is described as a complex musical instrument
     ''Then I hear a wailing piano
       solo speaking of complex ways in
       tear forrowed concerto''


  The European  culture is desribed as wailing,imposing,complex and domineering while the Afican culture is described as primitive. The poet persona admires and loves his primitive life as he renaissance on his childhood
           ............mothers suckling laps''
He loves the way he use to run naked in the village. But he also admires the European culture and now he is caught in between two contrasting cultures
          ''lost in the labyrinth
          wandering in the mystic rythm of jungle
           drums and the concerto''
In the poet's observation and response to the sounds that emanate from the symbolic objects as reflected in his choice of words. It is clear that despite his indecision to fully identify  with one at the expense of the other,his disposition towards ungle drums is much better. We can say that even though the poet has acquired education,tasted of the European culture,he is still much attached to the mystic drums-the African culture. 
      Structurally,the poet also makes use of contrast. The stanzas are also  in contrasts. Stanza one contrast with stanza three as the former dwells on the jungle drums while the later focuses on the piano. Also stanza one and two are devoted trums and the  traditional life of Africans[this shows that the poet loves the Africa culture
         ''the panther ready to pounce
          the leopard ready to snarl''
while the third stanza is devoted to the piano which is describes as
      ''solo speaking of complex way''
This ''complex ways'' symbolises educatio.
The jungle drums on the other hand is a path with no innovation
       ''paths with no innovations
        rugged,fashioned with the naked
        warthm of hurrying feet and groping 
        hearts''

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