2022 NECO GCE LITERATURE ANSWERS
(GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS: Answer One (1) Question from each section)
Musa is a man with questionable character, full of falsehood and deceit. Musa is a seer and medicine man in Mende kingdom who is supposed to be the eye of the gods and the custodian of the culture and morality in the land, but his activities in the kingdom are carried out contrarily. He allows himself to be used as a dog of war and puppet by devil incarnate, Lamboi who lacks human feelings.
Musa is co-opted by Lamboi into the murder of Gbanya. He uses alligator gall to poison chief Gbanya’s water, all in a bid for Lamboi to succeed him. Musa is also portrayed as a wicked seer, because according to Lamboi, Musa killed Yattah’s son and Mama Kadi’s daughter.
However, Musa continues in his wicked ways with his partner in crime, Lamboi. This time, Yoko next plan is not only to make Moyamba ungovernable for Yoko but also to implicate her and turn the people against her. To achieve this, Lamboi connives with Musa to kidnap and kill Ndapi and Jilo’s daughter. And when it is done, both will stir the women and others to rebel against the Queen. The people would be reliably informed that Yoko used her as a sacrifice to acquire more powers so that the Governor will be at her beck and calls and her, reign will be rendered useless and destabilized. This singular act of betrayal contributes to what leads Yoko to commit suicide because she feels betrayed by her own blood brother when she finds out through the divination of Gbeni.
THEME OF COLONIALISM: The presence of the colonial governor, the messenger, the fighting white men and the denigrating treatment of local traditional rulers suggest the colonial atmosphere that surrounds the entire play. Dr Rowe’s treatment of Gbanya is highly suggestive of the aura of impudence and self-professed superiority colonial administrators exuded. By deciding to strip Yoko of her newly-acquired territories, Dr Rowe further demonstrates how these colonial administrators took Africans for granted. It will be recollected that Yoko painstakingly consults the governor before she embarks on her conquest of new territories. She does not go off limit but the governor strips her of the territories all the same.
Considerably, the powerlessness and puppetry of African traditional rulers is brought to notice.
Sidi is the village belle of Ilujinle. She’s very beautiful and is acutely aware of that fact, especially once the stranger returns to the village with a magazine of photographs that show Sidi in all her glory. Seeing the photographs makes Sidi obsessed with her own image and gives her an exaggerated sense of her power over men. Both Lakunle and Baroka wish to marry Sidi, but she doesn’t act particularly interested in marrying either of them—she deems Baroka too old, and Lakunle insults her by calling her dumb and referring to her as a “bush-girl.” However, she indicates that she supports her village’s traditional way of life by implying that she’d marry any man, provided he paid her bride price.
(i) Tradition versus Modernity:
The play explores the theme of tradition and modernity in the wake of early colonialism which is the primary conflict in the play. The tradition in question is the Yoruba customs against a western conception of progress and modernity as represented by the conflict between Baroka and Lakunle for Sidi’s hand in marriage. Lakunle who represents the modern Nigerian man, wears Western clothing, speaks and behaves like an English man, and has been educated in a presumably British school. His supreme desire is to turn llunjunle into a modern paradise like the city of Lagos. He actively despises the traditional customs of his village and the people who pledge support to them. This is best exemplified when Lakunle refuses to pay Sidi’s bride price.
However, Baroka on the other hand is an ant-modernist and his extreme desire is to preserve the village’s traditional way of life. Lakunle who finds Baroka’s lifestyle and views archaic, also describes how Baroka paid off a surveyor not to construct train tracks through the outskirts of llunjunle, thereby preventing the village from experiencing the modern world. Also, Baroka clearly demonstrates that he does not hate modernity or progress, and he does not want it imposed on him or bend the village’s way of life all in the name of civilization and modernity. Baroka wishes to add Sidi to his many wives which are fully accepted by the custom of the land, while Lakunle dreams of one wife according to the dictate of western culture. According to the tradition, when Baroka dies, Sidi will become the head wife of the new Bale, a position that would make her one of the most powerful women in llunjunle. As soon as she realizes that the idea of modern marriage may make her less powerful with the fewer rights she opts for traditional marriage. In the end, Baroka triumphs in the fight for Sidi’s hand in marriage. This shows African ways of life are still a lot more supreme than the western culture that appears more complex, complicated, and incomprehensible.
(ii) Culture Conflict (clash of Cultures):
The play examines the clash of two distinct cultures that is the conflict between African and European customs or ways of life. Baroka who is the proponent of traditional culture tries hard to prevent the advent of western civilization and foreign values into llunjunle as the selfish Baroka bribes the surveyor to divert the railway track away from llunjunle, thereby foiling the intending progress in the village. This clash is also seen when the stranger from Lagos, (Photo Journalist), the seat of western civilization, makes the indigenous culture less attractive as he causes a stir during his visit to llunjunle. The people describe his camera as a “one-eyed box” and his motor car as “the devil’s own horse”. The photographs on the cover page and inside of Lagos Man’s Magazine boosts Sidi’s ego and this almost makes her overlook her union with Baroka, for she begins to attract more importance to her growing fame.
Also, the main conflict in the play shifts away from tradition versus modernity to individuality to personal worldview. For instance, Baroka’s proposed non-functioning stamp-making machine”, a strange machine is a symbol of modernity which he brainwashes Sidi with initially to final seduction scene in order to woo her. He also assures Sidi that the stamp will soon start producing Sidi’s image
(iii) The theme of Love and Marriage:
The play examines the idea of love and marriage from two perspectives. African tradition and European ideas of marriage. The former is basically practical which involves the payment of bride price. Sidi at first confesses to Lakunle that she is willing to marry him any day, any time, but the full bride price must be paid in full because there is a thin line between bride price and virginity.
Sidi’s two eligible suitors (Lakunle and Baroka) are driven by different ideas. Lakunle wants to woo Sidi with empty, unrealistic, imaginary, and vague western ideas; for he promises her sophisticated life of western cultures which involves eating with cutleries (knives and forks), walking side by side in the street, kiss her as all educated men do but Sidi dislikes such practices.
Baroka on his part is devising a special plan to woo and win her. Firstly, he sends Sadiku to woo her on his behalf but Sidi turns down the offer of marriage. Baroka then deceives Sadiku that he is impotent in order to lure Sidi into his shady plan. Sid visits Baroka to mock him for his impotence but ends up in his seduction trap. In the end, Sidi rejects Lakunle’s western ideas and chooses the traditional lifestyle championed by Baroka.
Cliff Lewis is Jimmy’s friend. Jimmy says that he is the only friend of his that still stays around especially after Hugh went abroad. Cliff is of the same age as Jimmy. But unlike Jimmy, Cliff is short, dark and big-boned. In Act I, he wears a pullover and grey new but very creased trousers. He is teased by Cliff and Alison for not being able to take care of his new trousers. This is indicative of his lower class background which is supposed to be crude. Cliff is relaxed, easy and lethargic. The stage direction also states that Cliff has the sad natural intelligence of the self-taught. This means that though Cliff might not have been educated like Jimmy, he still tries to ‘better himself’ as can be seen in his seriousness at reading newspapers in the play. Cliff is the foil of Jimmy in the play. While Jimmy tends to alienate people and their love, Cliff attracts people. People find it easier to talk to and confide in him. He cares so much about Alison and this counteracts Jimmy’s characteristic indifference.
*1. THE CELEBRATION OF BEAUTY*: In the “Black Woman”, Senghor eulogizes the beauty of Africa woman and by extension, Africa as a continent. He writes to debunk the assumption of the Western world that black is inferior and associated to barbarism or primitivism. The poet sees Africa as a superior continent. He compares the colour of African woman to life; the beauty of an eagle. “Naked woman, dark woman” is repeated in the poem to emphasis the beauty of Africa. The skin of Africa reflects the sun, gold and natural surroundings. It can be asserted that the work is an ode to beauty.
2. *GENDER AND SUPERIORITY OF MOTHERHOOD*: It has often been argued that women are inferior compared to men. This assertion is a controversial. Is the female weak physically, emotionally and spiritually? However, Senghor depicts women as life. Without them there will be no life. They are seen as “ripped fruit”, paradise of beauty, his “new found land” in the poem. The poet persona captures the qualities of compassion, peace, benevolence and contagious joy of motherhood. These qualities are attributed to a superior being. Allegorically, he sees Africa as the mother womb of the earth. In the last line of the poem, Africa is seen as the mother that “feeds the roots of life.” Historically, Africa is the cradle of civilization. Africa as continent was rapped economically by the colonizers.
3. *CULTURAL RENAISSANCE:* As said in the aforementioned, this poem debunks the claim that African culture is inferior, barbaric, and primitive in the face of Western culture. Culture is the way of life of a particular people. Eulogy, songs of praises, dancing, and mode of appearance are some of the cultural essences depicted in the poem. The poet wants Africans to value their culture but reject Western ideologies that are not in consonant with African culture.
Metaphor is figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unrelated things by stating that one thing is another thing. This is another dominant poetic device used in the Raider of the Treasure Trove by Lade Wosornu. The poet uses metaphor in the following lines to concretize his ideas.
Line 5 – Powered by the breeze of love
Line 6 – Chattered in the ink of compassion
Line 9 – Of things which would blot out that brief
Line 11 – Rage is chief
Line 16 – Rage spells calamity
Line 21 – Rage sets sail…
Rhetorical question: This is a literary device that asks a question in order to make a statement which does not expect an answer.
Line 1 – But what can be worthy of your life?
Line 2-3 – What dearer than the gems or your dreams;/The reasons you are here? …
Line 21 – …Can ruin lag far behind?
This is the repetition of the same sound or sounds especially consonant at the beginning of several words that are close together. Examples in the poem:
Line 4 – To fly flags of joy, and sail upstreams.
Line 11 – No, Rob you of your life, Rage is chief
Line 12 – Rage drags rags after you, of charity.
Personification is a figure of speech or poetic device which transfers human qualities to inanimate objects or things. Examples: Line 13 – Rage is thief
Line 15 – Rage spreads toxic fumes on every scene.
The poem “Caged Bird” is Maya Angelou way of conceptualizing the state and fate of African-American society. the use of song is a reference to how slaves in the nineteenth century gather at Congo Square to sing as a way of remembering their heritage. In the poem, she evokes the metaphor of two birds living two contrasting lives; one which is free and gay and another which is caged and enduring pain.
The first stanza presents the free bird. Through the use of active verbs the poets gives the kind of freedom enjoyed by the free bird. The free bird enjoys the liberty of doing whatever it wishes or wants, walks about, flies wherever it wants – “floats with the wind, “dips his wing” and “dares to claim the sky”. These words highlight the power of freedom with limitless boundaries enjoyed by the free bird which also it to attain its full capabilities and possibilities.
The second stanza changes the atmosphere in contrast with the first stanza. Here, the poet presents a caged bird trapped physically and psychologically. The physical enslavement is the cage which traps the bird limiting it to enjoy the benefits of the sky. Lines 8 – 9; “But a bird that stalks/down his narrow cage.” The psychological trap refers to the bars of rage which hinders the bird from enjoying freedom. The rage arises from the societal amputation meted on it. Being caged si not enough for its oppressor who goes further to amputate its body parts. Lines 12 & 13; “His wings are clipped and/ His feet are tied”. “Wings” and “feet” are symbols of mobility and freedom.
The poet reveals that bird has been totally disabled and restricted from enjoying life benefits and rights. hence, the bird is only left with option of singing. Symbolically, songs are used by Africans to express their sufferings, excitement and emotions. Historically, during the slave trade, songs kept the slaves going through their suffering hence, the reason African-Americans dominate America’s music industry today. This stanza depicts different forms of horrifying experiences African-Americans passed through daily in the US for hundreds of years. the segregation, restriction on their movement, denial of access to economic opportunities and education are displayed in this stanza.
In the third stanza, the poet goes deeper into the songs of the imprisoned bird which longs for freedom. The bird sings with fearful trill which shows the emotional instability the bird is passing through. This is a revelation that the caged bird doesn’t wish to be caged all its life. The next two lines reveal the birds desire to be elsewhere probably its original land or place. Though it has not been there buy it perceives that such place will be better than it current place. “Of things known/but longed for still”(Lines 17 & 18). The bird increases the tempo of its song such that its voice reaches “the distant hill” – line 20. In most cases, cry for freedom is heard by the oppressors yet they do nothing about it thus the caged bird continues to sing for freedom.
In reality, a lot of African-Americans are demanding for equality and freedom in America, yet if given their freedom, they have nowhere to return because they have lost their heritage in Africa. Therefore they are confined to the country where they are seen as inferior citizens.
Stanza four gives another picture of the free bird thoughts. The free bird thinks of the benefits it enjoys which are beyond the grasp of the caged bird. These thoughts centre around the breeze and winds that abate its flight, the joy of surfing through “sighing tree” and the access to the basic necessities of life, “fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn.” These are beyond the reach of the caged bird which the caged bird can only dream off but will never have them. the lines depict the free bird’s freedom of thought and movement just like the white folks in America in contrast to the limitation experienced by Africa-Americans in US. The last line of the stanza sums this contrast when the free bird names the sky its own – “and he names the sky his own”, this is indication that some people feel they are born with rights over others.
In the fifth stanza, the post switches to the caged bird predicament. The poet uses the conjunction “but” again just like in stanza two to show that in reality these two birds are equal however one has taken unfair advantage over the other by freedom it enjoys. While the free birds enjoys the reality, the caged birds only dreams. Even the dreams have turned to dreadful nightmares as the caged bird’s dreams have been aborted from birth. By “Shadow shouts”, the poet explains that the caged bird is defeated mentally just like its body is maimed, thus the bird remains caged even if the caged is removed. However, the caged bird still overcomes these challenges and asks for freedom, “So he opens his throat to sing.”
The last stanza is the repetition of the third stanza. The repetition shows the caged bird’s resilient spirit to give up on its freedom. The poetic persona reveals the importance of the poem to the fight for the total freedom of African-Americans in the US. The poem adds to the voices fighting against racial discrimination and other forms of exploitation meted out at the African-Americans. The last stanza acts as a refrain to show that the poem is a song of freedom by repeating the caged bird.
There is an instance of rhetorical question (in any case, an enjambment) in lines 35-36: “were we led all that way for Birth or Death?”
(i)Pun; There is an instance of pun in line 33 of the poem where the poetic persona played upon the phrase “set down”. The first “set down” is a phrasal verb while the second “set down” modified with the determiner “this” is nominalised. Apart from the distinction in word class, “set down” is also used in different senses. While the first use of “set down” denotes putting something down, the other use of “set down” implies depression and disappointment.
(iii)Allusion; There is an instance of literary allusion in the opening lines of the poem. Allusion, according to Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms, is defined as “an indirect or passing reference to some event, person, place, or artistic work, the nature and relevance of which is not explained by the writer but relies on the reader’s familiarity with what is thus mentioned.” Within the context of the poem, there is a case of literary allusion. The opening lines of the poem allude to a Christian sermon given by the Bishop of Winchester
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