Abstract


GLOCALCOLLOQUIES - Vol 1, Issue 1, May, 2015

Poetry as Instrument: Reading Selected Poems of Mutabaruka

Author: Roy, Debdas

Category: Research

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Abstract:

Over the years the canon of Caribbean poetry has shifted and expanded, drawing both on oral and literary traditions. Jamaican canonical poet-singer and a Rastafarian Dub poet, Allan Mutabaruka (b.1952) draws sustenance from the oral traditions. This paper focuses on Mutabaruka’s attitudes to the question of ‘black identity’, women and nature. Mutabaruka uses poetry as an instrument of social change. His central concern is to go back to his Precolonial African roots and to search for ‘black identity’ lost in the quagmire of history. “The world needs rearranging” says Mutabaruka. Orality is central to Mutabaruka’s art. West Indies had a very rich store-house of folk culture and oral traditions. The colonizers systematically glorified their culture and dwarfed the culture of the colonized Caribbeans. This aspect of colonization has been described by Spivak as “Othering”. Coming to the question of Mutabaruka’s attitude to women it might be said that Mutabaruka’s attitude in this regard remains somewhere in-between the stand taken by the Rastafarian hardliners of Jamaica or Ethiopia and the Rastafarians of Texas. In one of his interviews Mutabaruka supports polygamy. “Man is by nature polygamous” says Mutabaruka. But this is only one aspect of his thought. His poems reveal a slightly altered attitude. Mutabaruka’s attitude to nature and environment too has been influenced to a great extent by the Rasta line of thinking. Rasta ideal is environmentally sound and it runs parallel to the ideas of environment

popularized by Cheryl Glotfelty, Harol Fromm and other eco-thinkers of the U.S.A. The Rastas question the much-hyped capitalist slogan of ‘progress’ and advancement of civilization at the cost of nature and loss of agrarian base. Living in harmony with the environment and the laws of nature is one of the central ideas of Rastafarianism. Mutabaruka’s ‘Ecology-Poem’ subscribes to that idea.

Keywords: Black liberation ideology, Rastafarianism, Dub poetry, Orality, Women, Anticapitalist

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