Content Analyis of Edward Kamau Braithwaite’s All God’s Chillun

All God’s Chillun” by Edward Kamau Braithwaite is a poem that reflects the period of Indian indentureship as labourers on the field. It also emphasizes on the Idians’ bitter experience of inferiority and racial discrimination whilst labouring on the field for the Englishman . Apart from the inferiority complex and racial discrimination, their labourious service infuses servility among them. They perform all possible deeds to gain acceptability from the Englishman in order to work on the field. This ranges from the way they showcase their servile mannerism by daring not to stare directly at the face of the Englishman who address them during supervisor – employee meeting, and the fear of getting fired coerced them from asking the Englishman question, even when the wages are poor or not equally paid for their labour.

The poem, “All God’s Chillun,” is divided into six parts amidst the final part containing only two lines. The poet – persona stands a representative of the entire Caribbean people. For standing as the representative, he sums the collective experience of a Caribbean and thus laments it through a solitary and personal plight . This is noted at the initial lines of the poem:

They call me Uncle
Tom and mock me

The word, ”Uncle Tom,” originates from a character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel. it refers to a black man who wants to please or serve a white people. The poet’s name, due to an elongated period of working on plantation and apparently serving the Englishman, has totally ceased in the society. He is now
known by the name Uncle Tom, and what trails this dubbed name is mockery from the Englishman and even the children.

These my children mock me

Apart from the mockery, his children despise “hat in hand” condition they find their father. Hat in hand is an idiomatic expression which denotes asking or begging for things, especially money in way that makes one less important. it can be deducted that after the poet has laboured on days and weeks and
precisely months, the wages he obtains as his payment is obviously poor, and this has flung him into destitution.

Not only do the children hate their father’s hat in hand, they also abhor “the one – roomed God” he “praise(s).” The “one roomed God” signifies displacement. The Caribbean were displaced, and those who could acquire a single room adore it as God for the provision of shelter it gives. But yet this is the same one room when winds blow, it “raise(s) the flat/ roofed house/ each harvest time.”

The mockery and hatred display by the children is an explanatory fact that they detest the situation they find themselves, therefore the need for protest against inferiority complex racial discrimination, poverty, oppression, hybridity homelessness, colour differential and segregation.

In line 25, the poet grumbles over his farm tools which he describe as “one fuckin’ plough that only works one way” and the story of his life is needless in this field/ where these cart – wheels … destroy the root of love with pain.”

When it is time for planting, the Englishman approves who will work and who will not, he decides those whose works will be jerking of rope. His rules are Indisputable:

Boss man makes rules:

who works, who jerks

the rope ,who rips

the patient dirt

The poet – persona visualizes himself as “a patient mules” who labours tirelessly but only fetches profit/ gain to the Englishman. His labour, however , becomes the livelihood sustenance of the Englishman.

Boss man rate gain:

I am the living vein

of sustenance:

his coin ,his meal, his grain

Reiterating the deplorable condition confronted by the indentured labourers, the poet – persona avers that “they laugh at me/ from the barrels/ of their bellies.” This laughter stems from the name Uncle Tom, which “the white/ man laugh” and dubs him. With the emerging new generation of Caribbean,
there is a protest against slavery , inferiority, discrimination and racial inequality. They have vehement hatred for the name Uncle Tom. They object: “But to hell with this… Uncle / Tom, hat in your hand.” The condition they find their father’s labouring to please the Englishman is despicable, therefore “let get to hell out’ a Pharoad’s land!”

To get out of the Pharoad’s land is equally a freedom from their slavery, amnesia, rootlessness and inferiority that chained them powerfully to bow to the ” Boss man” that “makes rules” and makes them patient mules.

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