An Optical Spectrometer of Wole Soyinka’s “Telephone Conversation” “Telephone Conversation” is a poem written by Wole Soyinka, a renowned poet, playwright, author, political activist and social critic. Published initially in the collection Modern Poetry from Africa (1963), the poem was written in 1962. and the first African poet in to win Nobel Prize in literature in 1986, Soyinka was born in Abeokuta, Western Nigeria in 1934,where he currently resides and where he started his early education. His early exposure to Yoruba culture and mythology, including growing up greatly influenced his life’s work where drama and literature were often an avenue for socio-political commentary and activism.
Beginning his with his first trip to England in the mide-1950s, where he earned a doctorate in University ofLeeds Wole Soyinka‘s “Telephone conversation” exposed the spectral in which the society sometimes discriminate against people based simply on their skin color and not the content of their character.The poem reveals the nature absurdity of racism. A simple matter like a renter inquiry over phone created back window into soul society. The discrimination in this experience by black, African man and clearly after ascertaining the suitability of the accommodation, and anticipating the Caucasian landlady’s possible refusal to rent her place to him, proceeds to offer the lady a piece of vital information – his ethic origin.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
“Madam, I hate a wasted journey –I am African,” (line 3-5) the speaker warns her. What follows is studious silence from the lady, silence which the speaker thinks is a reluctant result of an inbred sense of politeness, but he is wrong. Because delve into ill-conceived prejudice and ignorance as she then asks, “How Dark ……Are You Light or very Dark?” ( 10-12) The portrayed conversation between the landlady potential tenant manages to convey a delicate subject in a comical way, using drollness, witty innuendo, rich language and flowing back-and-forth rhythm of thought between both sides of the dialogue. Soyinka uses several literary devices namely satire, irony and imagery, to deliver a poignant message. The satirical tone of the poem manages to reveal the reality of racism and prejudice in 1960s English society.
H Reham declare the poem to be a potent comment on society “Soyinka might be speaking through personal experience” Rehman says, judging by the raw emotion that poem subtly conveys: those of anger, rage, shame, humility and the acute sense of disgust at the apathy and inhumanity of humans who won’t judge a book by its cover but would turn down a man for colour of his skin” (Reman) Clearly, there is no law preventing landlords discriminating against members of any ethnic groups who may seek to lease their properties. Comic realty comes alive in his description of the woman “Lipstick coated, long gold-rolled Cigarette-holder pipped.” and in describing his alarmed feelings of seeing red everywhere around the phone after she asks him how dark he is, which he also represents using the imagery of the huge bus squelching on the road surface – “Button B, Button A.* Stench. Of rancid breath of public hide-and-speak. Red booth. Red pillar box. Red double-tiered.
Omnibus squelching tar”. Ernest N. Emenyonu who opines that the poem reveals the underbelly of British colonial hypocrisy and racism, “the inanity of discrimination on.