Any right thinking person or analytical reader that peruses the poem - “Nightfall in Soweto depicting insecurity, fear, and violence during the apartheid in South Africa will have no reason to doubt the similarities to what is now happening in Monrovia and some of its environs due to the prevalent of the wave of armed robbery.
According to the interpretation or assertion of the author Oswald Mtshali, it is ironical that night which supposed to bring peace or rest to man after daily activities is feared by people predominantly the blacks in Soweto. Mtshali asserted that after the heavy works during the day, the blacks see night as a period they can be relieved of their burdens.
It is this night that provides them cover to move about as they can't move freely during the day without a pass. This often causes the blacks to move illegally at night, so the law agencies also parade. The inhumane action of these law agencies (the white Police or cops) is what the poet personified as fears.
The poet also asserted that Nightfall becomes a mask for criminals, when different inhumane crimes are committed by murderers that strike down helpless victims, a victim unable to fight back in the face of a dagger. Added to this, the poet used beast to qualify the whites (Police or law enforcers) to parallel their attitude to that of beast and the helpless victims (blacks) as prey.
In other words, when nightfall is coming in Soweto, many blacks described as helpless victims’ grapples with fears of what danger might happen to them. Some may ask the silent questions or wonder. Will I be dragged, killed, brutalized, flogged, robbed etc. before my family? Will I live to see the next day?
To a large extent, the poem “Nightfall in Soweto” can be paralleled or equated to Monrovia and some of its environs in the following ways.
To begin with, just how many blacks in Soweto harbored fears when nightfall is coming because of the attitude of the beast, so it is with many people in Monrovia and some of its environs harbor the same fear because of armed robbery attacks similar to beast used in the poem. Without empirical evidence, it worth being asserted that when nightfall is coming, many people driven by fears in Monrovia, Paynesville, Brewerville, RIA highway, ELWA community, central Monrovia etc. wonder about armed robbery attack on their family. Some if not all have sleepless night.
Secondly, who are the preys or helpless victims? In the corridor of the author’s mind, it can be discerned that helpless victims are people unable to protect themselves against the barbaric act of the beast (the white cops). These are people struggling to build their lives. Similar to Monrovia and some of its environs, most of the victims of armed robbery attack are people unable to protect themselves. They are people struggling to build their lives.
They are not official of government protected or rarely attacked by armed robbers on average. They are people that harbor fears of becoming helpless victims. They are also the ones that go to bed with fears and wake up with praises and gratitude to God’s protection during the night. They are some of the ones that have sleepless night just to keep watch as the only means of protection available to them.
Thirdly is the line “I quake at his deafening knock at the door” In this line, the poet refers to how the helpless victims (the blacks) tremble at the booming knock of their doors by the Police (whites cops). Similar to Liberia, no victims of armed robbery in their right thinking mind will deny being tremble at the booming of their doors by armed robbers. The only difference is the Police that is not applicable to Liberia situation.
Finally is the poet assertion “Nightfall becomes a mask for criminals.” Of course in the case of Monrovia and some of its environs, can any right thinking person whether directly or indirectly affected by armed robbery refute this assertion that also characterized Soweto during the apartheid era? Another similarity is mask often worn to hide the facial identity of armed robbers in Monrovia and some of its environs.
As a wrap up, the peaceful setting that supposed to be enjoyed by people in Monrovia and some of its environs are now being forcefully invaded by the dreadful effects (armed robbery) of nightfall.
Ambrues M. Nebo,