The Song of the Women of my Land - Oumar Farouk Sesay Summary
African Poetry: "The Song of the Women of my Land" by Oumar Farouk Sesay Summary, Setting, Author's Background, Themes, Language and Style / Poetic Devices for JAMB, WAEC and NECO Literature Students 2021 - 2025 Syllabus.

It is no longer news that the above selected poetry is among the selected texts for literature students in the WAEC, NECO and JAMB Syllabus for 2021 - 2025.

Well we have decided to help students by providing some insights such as background, poetic devices, themes, structure and about the poet summary to aid them understand and prepare ahead of their examination.


Oumar Farouk Sesay is a graduate of Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. He is a notable Sierra Leonean poet whose works have been published in several anthologies such as Lice in the Lion's Mane, Songs That Pour the Heart, and Kalashnikov in the Sun. He was a Cadbury Visiting Fellow in 2009 at the center for west Africa studies at the University of Birmingham, UK. His poems have been translated into German and Spanish.


It is believed that for many years past and many eras' gone by, women have always been faced with unfair treatment of being inferior to their male counterparts across the world. These nefarious practices have subjugated women to a tone of humiliations, ranging from fewer job opportunities, political office, religious leadership, and so on, although modern time has got them to speak up over these grave humiliations. In the case of Africa, women have come under the double yokes of oppression by their men, women have been victims of oppression, exploitation, and other inhumane treatment.

But, despite this unhealthy reality, there is the tone of tenacity that has to raise the morale of these women to endure their condition and hope for a new dawn ofjoy. This suffering, pain, and anguish are particularly applicable to the peasant women in the rural area of the continent, where women toil daily in the sun, in the fields, and contribute to the sustenance of their families and their country at large, but the only worrying thing here is that their deeds are indeed left unsung. Only a few members of their
communities even have good memories of these women after their death. When, occasionally, a person remembers such women or one of them, it is not uncommon to see the person compose or perform a dirge in their memory. Vividly, this was what the poet Oumar Farouk Sesay tries to point out in his poem: The song of the women of my land.


The poem has its setting in a village in Northern Sierra Leone, probably known as Masingbi in the Tokonili district from which the poet hails. The women's main occupation in this part of the country is farming and agriculture as they not only use this to help in financing business with it but also contribute to the development of the society at large.

Vividly, the time of the setting of the poem is not in a modern era through the use of words like in the distant past, other deductions are vivid with 'the vast void of times', "in those days", "an epoch lost in antiquity", "long ago' and so on. However, as it can be assumed that there is a connection or better-said bridge between the past and the modern age, as only a few things have changed in the plight of these women.


This poem centrals on the plight African women have come to withstand over the century, how their heroic deeds have left unsung and how men have to oppress them over these years and even in modern society.

In the past, their individual experiences came together to form a unifying, uplifting tune that helped them fight back emotionally and mentally against the oppression and slavery they were enduring.

The poem recounts how Time has taken its toll and the song is slowly being lost to the ages,just as these women were. Now, all that's left is a tune.

The poetic personal recalls how the women in this society and, perhaps during the slave trade, were subjugated and subjected to oppression and hard labor on plantations.

In a very clear tone of anguish and pain, the personal lament for the women and recollected how the women coped with the subjugated condition of ever stopping and
entertaining themselves with singing.

The lines of these songs he says consist of the stories of their lives, unfortunately, is hardly remembered today. The time of the songs, which are a shadow of the substance, is the only thing available to the poetic persona to write about as seen in lines 12-18, where the poetic persona synopsizes how the women of the land warded off their collective sorrow and pain by singing "to celebrate their gains". They also do sing to forget whatever suffering they might have witnessed over time in the hands of their frustration, also this song is meant to while away the oppression of their present condition, to reflect on the future, and also to know what dreams they still foreshadow and understand their past/history.

In lines 37-46, the poet commented on the efforts at captures what has happened to the lives of the women. He observes that the lips of the pen stutter while his rib screeches in the attempt to the song of the women of his land. In other words, he finds it hard for himself to try to capture the story of the women in his poem since the events making up the women's story took place at a place and time far away from the present. This is that many parts of the stories about subjugation and subjection of the women were not written and not talked about because the modern-day and the old-time have no
difference. The poem ends in line 46 line with the induction that the women's life is indeed a dirge.


The Use of Alliteration

Use of alliteration, occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same letter. Examples include "forlorn fields" inline-five and "vast void" in line eight

Use of Metaphor

A metaphor is a comparison between two, unlike things that do not use "like" or "as" is also present in the poem. When using this technique, a poet is saying that one thing is another thing, they aren'tjust similar. There are examples throughout the poem, such as in lines eight and nine in which the mind and an exploration of it, is described as plowing a landscape.

Use of Simile

Similes are quite similar to metaphors except that they are comparisons that do make use of "like" or "as". The first two lines of the poem are a great example: "Like a sculptor chipping away at bits of wood, /Time chisels away bits of memory".

The Use of Personification

This occurs when a poet imbues a non-human creature or object with human characteristics. For example, in line ten where "servitude" is described as actively cuffing
one's ankles as if the human (a metaphor, this time for the entrapment of the soul).


The song of the Women of my Land' by Oumar Farouk is a forty-eight-Iine poem that does not follow a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. The lines are quite different in lengths with the shorts containing one word and longest: twelve.

Additionally, a reader can find instances of internal rhyme. These appear within the lines themselves, rather than at the end of lines. For example, "commune" and "tune" in lines eighteen and twenty. As well as "long" and "song" in lines twenty-one and twenty-three.