In the past during apartheid being black meant you lost out in many privileges it also showed how black people where oppressed. In this poem we see that Mbongeni Khumalo uses the word black in connection to all the bad things.
He highlights that there is this darkness associated with the colour black and that in the 1960’s when someone called you a black person it showed nothing good and that no one should be proud of being black. He also looks at all the words that start with “black” and if one looks deep into them then we see that there’s a deeper meaning to that particular word and that it has got something to do with wrong doing or bad happenings.
The first line of the poem reads “you don’t need a BLACK-BELT to write blackpoems”, if one looks at this line and critique it then we see that he says that one doesn’t need a black belt to write black poem and the way it is written from the small letter at the beginning of the sentence to the to the black belt in a big font and black poems as one word this shows that as a black person no one really paid attention to the diction of the poem. B/LACK” when one looks at this word and the way it has been written then you can interpret it as be lack, as if he’s trying to point out that when you are black you lack in something. He further one uses the word “prac-teasing” and instead of writing practising he uses the teasing showing that he was isolated for mocking black art but in his own right one can argue that he was not mocking it but just highlighting the points that were true and that there was a time when anything that was done by a black person was just done and not taken seriously, a black person could only go so far with their art. Trampling my so(u)l/e/” the way he has chosen to break down the word soul in a way that one can say he is trampling the word himself and he also adds an “e” at the end which shows that he can do anything to this poem since it is a black poem. Served sausages made from minced pork and call(ed) it BLACK PUDDING” one can say that it was called black pudding because in the black culture the only time that the families ever ate pudding which consisted of custard and fruit was during Christmas otherwise black people always feasted with meat he could also have been referring to himself as the black sheep because he did not eat meat and in that case being black and not eating meat meant that you were a different type of black person and therefore you were out casted and you were a black sheep. I suffered a BLACK DEATH at the hands of a BLACK GUARD”, what the writer brings out in this line is how black people still killed each other regardless of the fact that they were all oppressed by the same people for the same reason. The guards were also said to be puppies for the oppressors so that the hit on them could be lighter and that they could spare them their lives. So it shows that black people were also turned against each other and killed each other just so that they can hold their own end.
The language that he has chosen to use is simple but the was in which he has broken down his words and placed them in way that one could clearly see the point he is trying to make about black poems. As one carries on to read this poem you could say that this is not a black poem but a poem about black people. He uses a playful tone but at the same time the way he stresses some words to show his point and the double meanings behind them. He also used the words to show what was happening in that time to black people trying to pass on the torch of awareness so that people could stop being naive and actually know how things were done in that time.
He attracts the reader by his title which is “BLAK POWEMS” which shows the way he wrote it as if he were a actually saying it in a Bantu accent, so he chose to write it the way he would say it because no one really paid close attention to the diction and the style of the way black poets wrote their poems because it always ended up being black people reading each others poems. The way this poem has been written it shows well that it is protest poem in such a sense as when one looks at the diction used in this poem and the style of writing that the poet has chosen to use.
He plays with associations surrounding blackness to put his point across of how blackness is associated with bas things and in this case particularly back in the 1960’s during times of black oppression and apartheid. The tone of this poem is in a playful but honest manner, not harsh but it keeps one intrigued that there could be so many things associated with the colour black that represent a darker side of life and the poet does a good job of bringing them out and also highlighting them.
This poem makes the reader see the problems that the past could add on to a simple phrase or word. The word black in this poem has been separated and put on a spectrum whereby we can all see the negatives that could and that are surrounding this one word in particular. The poet has also made us think of how history played out and he did this not by writing that in the 1960’s this is what happened but he used words that show or highlight the main events of the 60’s.