matt's poetry pocketbook:
poems and poets

Eze elina, elina from Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

Comment on "Eze elina, elina" from Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

This draws on the story of a headstrong king who breaks a sacred taboo by eating roast yam reserved for sacrifice to the gods. The song is to warn the king not to commit an action that would compromise himself and his high office and so the continued prosperity of his people. The king is warned not to eat - if he does, he will regret it and the price he will pay is a dishonorable death. Where White Ant installs a king and Where Dust dances to the drums means that by breaking such a serious sacred taboo after his bodily death the king will be denied reunion with his ancestors and will be forever apart from his people, conceived as all past, present and future members

This is not strictly a praise-poem. It draws on the same traditions and illustrates a common feature, the cautioning or admonition of power and status

Sala works like a chorus or response from the audience

Matthew John Williams
April 2001