An Analysis of 'a Young Man's Thought's Before June 16th' - Fhazel Johennesse

1555 Words Apr 15th, 2012 7 Pages
Analysis of ‘A Young Man’s Thoughts before June the 16th’ – Fhazel Johennesse

The historical background to the poem is June 16th 1976. This date marks the Soweto Uprising which was initiated in Soweto by black high school students. The students were protesting against being taught in Afrikaans in their local schools. The demonstration was meant to be peaceful and was secretly planned to avoid discovery by the police. On the morning of June the 16th, thousands of youths gathered with the plan to march to Orlando Stadium to hold a rally to air their grievances. However, their intended route was blocked by riot police, and what had started as a peaceful march turned bloody as police used live ammunition on the protesters. Evidence shows
…show more content…
As outlined in Readers Digest Illustrated History of South Africa, (1988: 440) and in the Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soweto_uprising), June the 16th 1976 was the catalyst for political change in South Africa to begin. On this date, thousands of black high school students gathered in Soweto with the intention to march to Orlando Stadium to hold a rally to protest against being taught in Afrikaans in their local schools. The march had been secretly planned to avoid discovery by the police. The day ended in bloodshed and an official death toll of 23 when the police opened fire on the youths. Many protesters were shot in the back as they were running away.

The poem is written against this background. The strong theme of the poem is the mental preparations the young man is making for the day ahead – ‘tomorrow I travel on a road’. He is unsure of what is going to happen but suspects that it will not end well. He is reflecting on what is going to happen and expecting the worst.

There is no punctuation or capitalization used in the poem. The only deviation from this is the use of the capital ‘I’ that is used when the poet is referring to himself. This adds to the emphasis of the young man as the focal point of the poem.

The tone of the poem is poignant and sombre which is reiterated by the use of words like ‘memories’, ‘aches’, ‘sad’, and
Open Document