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Compare the Speaker in Night of the Scorpion by Nissin Ezekiel and Nothing's Changed by Tatamkhulu Afrika

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Essay Preview: Compare the Speaker in Night of the Scorpion by Nissin Ezekiel and Nothing's Changed by Tatamkhulu Afrika

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Night of the Scorpion is set in a poor, tight-knit community in Egypt. We can tell this because the villagers believe in the fight against good and evil, they use curses and chants to take away pain and the medicines used are herbal. They even resort to trying to burn out the sting of the scorpion; 'He even poured a little paraffin upon the bitten toe and put a match to it'. The poverty of the community is also reflected in the fact that they do not have a bed to lay the woman on they just have a mat on the floor. 'My mother twisted through and through, groaning on a mat. The villagers are referred to as peasants showing the length to which the poverty goes.

Other things which tell us about the poem's culture are; the sack of rice which the scorpion hides beneath, the mud-baked walls that the small hut is made of, the candles and lanterns used instead of lights and the way that the people believe that pain can purify you and that ambition and desire are evil. All these things suggest poverty, poor education and underdevelopment and the rice tells us it is an Asian country.

Nothing's changed is similar in that it also describes a poverty stricken community but in this poem the poverty has been forced upon the people whereas in The Night of the Scorpion they have probably always been poor. Nothing's changed shows the contrast between the lives and assets of the blacks and the lives and assets of the whites in Africa just after the African apartheid was meant to have stopped.

In both poems the communities seem to be very close but the community in Nothing's change seems a lot more homely and loving; 'working man's cafй sells bunny chows...wipe your fingers on your jeans, spit a little on the floor: it's in the bone.'

The poems personas are very similar: they are both the writer of the poem revisiting something in their childhood, reinterpreting it as adults but at the same time remembering their childhood feelings. They are also both written in the first person. However they differ over the events and feelings described.

In Night of the Scorpion Ezekiel recounts when his mother was stung by a scorpion whereas in Nothing's changed Afrika thinks back to his childhood experiences of the African apartheid and compares them to his life now.

Through the poem Ezekiel shows us his dislike of the intrusiveness of his community and how different his beliefs are to everyone else's. He shows us this by describing the peasants 'like swarms of flies' and the sceptical tone used when describing the spells and incantations performed. He is almost trying to hide his annoyance at the holy men and the villagers because they can not cure his mother or stop her pain; 'May the poison purify your flesh

of desire and your spirit of ambition,

they said, and they sat around

on the floor with my mother in the centre,

the peace of understanding on each face.'

Afrika, on the other hand shows us his love of the culture and community he grew up in; 'No sign says it is: but we know where we belong.' He tells us of his anger at the white people for destroying his home and also for being ignorant enough to think that by burning down a few buildings they could destroy the black people and their mixed race community. He is also angry that even though the apartheid is meant to be over, nothing has changed: 'Hands burn for a stone, a bomb, to shiver down the glass. Nothing's changed. Afrika expresses his resentment of the rich, new and immaculate white restaurant pretending it is superior to the working man's cafй when really it is scared of the black community:

'it squats

In the grass and weeds,

Incipient Port-Jackson trees.

New, up-market, haute cuisine,

Guard at the

...

...

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