POEM-’THE DINING TABLLE’’
BACKGROUND OF THE POET:
Gbanabam was born in 1965, he was originally known as Elvis Jacob Hallowel. He hails from Sierra Leone and was educated at Birch Memorial Secondary School, Makemi and Milton Margai Teachers College [now Milton Margai College of Education] where he studied English. He endured his country’s ten years civil war whose experiences led to the composition of Drumbeats of War collection which contains ‘’The Dining Table’’. The poem is traceable to the eleven years civil war of Sierra Leone [1991-2002]. It was such a fierce war that the poet mockingly refer to as the gathering at ‘’the dining table’’ where people fight each other. It is a celebration of violence where brothers killed brothers until a monitoring group called Economic Monitoring Group [ECOMOG] came into their aid. So many counties in Africa had experienced crisis or war.
THE SETTING OF THE POEM:
The setting of this poem is Sierra Leonean plateau in the eastern part of the country during the decade-long civil war.
THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE POEM:
The poet announced what happened at the dining table. it was not about the usual meal with the consumption of food and drinks. It was dinner that was associated with gun wounds. Dining was not ordinary feast but a feast from the gun wounds. At the end each warring party sat at a round table to settle their scores.
THE THEMES FROM THE POEM:
WAR AND DESTRUCTION: There is atmosphere of death and pain out of gun battles. It is a feast of where life and properties were destroyed.
SUFFERING OCCASIONED BY WAR: Much about the war is suffering. The dinner itself was a dinner suffering. The main suffering is in gathering as if they were about to dine only to be feasted on gun wounds.
CHILD SOLDIERS: The manner the poet brings in the fact that child soldiers were part of the dinners. They were referred to as Alpha beta which means primary schooling.
YOUTHFULNESS AND REVOLUTION: Youths were known for harbouring a revolutionary mind. They pulled down imagined structures and think they can do better. The youths whom were willing to offer themselves to purge the land of the ills of these leaders were not always in position to do so.
VIOLENCE AND BLOOD BATH: The entire poem is about violence and bloodbath. It is the harvest of blood, anguish land flames of war. The dining table was reserved for lovers of fire and violence out of which was ‘’the catch of gun wound’’.
LITERARY DEVICES USED IN THE POEM:
METAPHOR: The word ‘’dinner’’ is used metaphorically to mean a feast of blood. ‘’Our desert tongues’’ is used as gun fire to decertify the ground.
EUPHEMISM: This is saying the unpleasant thing in a pleasant way. The expression ‘’the dining table’’ takes our mind to eating and enjoyment whereas the poem is not about dining or satisfying one’s hunger for food. ‘’ocean of bowls’’. Bowls are used for food but it is used here for ‘’ocean of blood’’.
PERSONIFICATION: ‘’Dinner tonight comes with gun wound’’. Dinner is given the attribute of human coming or visiting. ‘’Vegetables die’’ Rather than wither which is normally associated with leaves and vegetables.
ALLITERATION: ‘’Comes with gun wounds’’, ‘’my boots have suddenly becomes’’. The repeated consonants sounds within the lines are: ‘w’, ‘b’.
IRONY AND MOCKERY: The poet placed contrast within close quarters. Witness the placing of ‘’dinner’’ and ‘’gun wounds’’ together.
THE POEM-THE DINING TABLE
POEM-’THE DINING TABLLE’’