Thursday, April 9, 2009

A fri ca, A fri ca, A fri ca




Time for a Poetry Break!



POETRY BREAK: REFRAIN-- A poem with a refrain or chorus (and indicate refrain)

Jacinto, Antonio. 1992. “The rhythm of the tomtom.” Don Burness, trans. This same sky: A collection of poems from around the world. Naomi Shihab Nye, selector. New York: Four Winds
Press. 163.

I believe young adults in junior high can understand the underlying emotion in this poem of loyalty and love for country, "The Rhythm of the TomTom" by Antonio Jacinto. The poem sets a serious tone when read aloud. It is a translation into English from Angola, which is located in Southern Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Namibia and Democratic Republic of the Congo (CIA Factbook). The poem creates a solemn mood as each refrain is read. The refrains vary: “nor in my skin” “in my heart” “in the way that I think” “within you, for you, Africa” and “Africa.”

The Rhythm of the TomTom

The rhythm of the tomtom does not beat in my blood
Nor in my skin
Nor in my skin
The rhythm of the tomtom beats in my heart
In my heart
In my heart
The rhythm of the tomtom does not beat in my blood
Nor in my skin
Nor in my skin
The rhythm of the tomtom beats especially
In the way that I think
In the way that I think
I think Africa, I feel Africa, I proclaim Africa
I hate in Africa
I love in Africa
And I am Africa
The rhythm of the tomtom beats especially
In the way that I think
In the way that I think
I think Africa, I feel Africa, I proclaim Africa
And I become silent
Within you, for you, Africa
Within you, for you, Africa
A fri ca
A fri ca
A fri ca
by Antonio Jacinto

Poetry Break: Beforehand, solicit enough large plastic coffee containers for each student. Have each student make his own tomtom drum according to the following instructions or simply use the plastic coffee container with the lid intact.

Balloon Tom-Tommaterials:
Juice can, oatmeal box, potato chip can, or other such container 2 large balloons. 2 heavy rubber bands, 2 pencils with erasers.
1. open both ends of the container for the drum body
2. cut small end off the balloons, this is the drum skin
3. stretch the closed end of the balloon over the drum body
4. hold balloon in place with the rubber band, smoothing out the wrinkles
5. repeat 1-4 for the other end
6. use the pencil as the drum stick

The Mudcat Café. http://www.mudcat.org/kids/drums.cfm.

Beforehand, print the refrains in large letters on poster board or construction paper, and provide copies of the poem for the students. Introduce the poem and describe the poetry book, This Same Sky: a Collection of Poems from around the World, poems collected by Naomi Shihab Nye. Talk about the author of the poem, Antonio Jacinto, and explain that the poem, a cry of loyalty to his country, is a translation. Read the poem once. Pause. Read the poem a second time, more slowly. Emphasize the last three lines and read them slowly, with a beat.

Divide the students into two groups. When reading the poem again, instruct one group of students to read the refrains while the other group of students provides a matching beat on their makeshift tomtom drums. The refrain “Nor in my skin” is four slow beats; the refrain, “In my heart” is three slower beats, and refrain, “In the way that I think” is six fast beats. Have all students recite the last three lines with voices loud in unision. The students may have to practice a few times. Have the student groups switch roles and repeat the process.

Extended Activity: Pair with the book Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You, by Hanna Jansen and Elizabeth D. Crawford. Obtain an audio reading of the book, and play it for the students. This is about a young girl’s family and their murders during the Rwandan genocide. (The book is also a translation from German into English). Have the students watch the PBS video about Rwanda in April 1994 and follow the activities provided.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/ghosts/video/evil_hi.html
References
"Ghosts of Rwanda." Frontline. PBS.org. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/ghosts/video/evil_hi.html (accessed April 4, 2009).
Jacinto, Antonio. 1992. "The rhythm of the tomtom." Don Burness, trans. This same sky: A collection of poems from around the world. Naomi Shihab Nye, selector. New York: Four Winds Press. 163.
"Make your own drums." The mudcat cafe. http://www.mudcat.org/kids/drums.cfm (accessed April 4, 2009).
"The world factbook: Angola." CIA Factbook. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/ao.html (accessed April 4, 2009).
Tom Tom Drum Charm Vintage. Google Images. http://www.amandajo.com/.

2 comments:

  1. Ah, but is Africa a country or a continent?
    Why pair this poem by an Angolan poet with stories of the Rwandan genocide? Is Angola not its own country, with its own history? Why pair such a poem of love for place with the Rwandan genocide? Are we to teach youth in the USA nothing about Africa except the horrors?

    You could pair it with excerpts from Patricia McKissack's book Nzinga, Warrior Queen of Matamba to give students some interesting historical background. They could try their hand at writing a poem in Jacinto's style, but from Nzinga's perspective, or could try a poem in two voices (like Paul Fleischman's, but using Nzinga and Antonio Jacinto as voices of past and present.

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  2. Thank you for your valid comments. After re-reading my post after much time has passed since I've paid attention to my own blog, I see my lack of distinction between continent and country. Of course, Africa is a continent. I know very little about Jacinto, but the passion he holds for Africa seems evident through the tone of the poem. As for pairing the poem with a book about the genocide in Rwanda,I can see American students understanding that in spite of the horrors of genocide in one African country, a poet and native son can be proud that he is African, and even write "I hate in Africa/I love in Africa" (Jacinto). I'm proud to be American in spite of a history of war and slavery. Love and hate exist everywhere. My next endeavor is to look into the McKissack book. I appreciate your attention to my post and the addition to a poetry lesson for students!

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