The poem is spoken in an
Afro-Caribbean voice describing
and reacting to what he has
been taught in school
He mocks education confined to
the main events and people in
British History which are as
irrelevant to him as nursery
The achievements made by people from
other cultures are missing from his
education, leaving him struggling to
understand his own history and identity.
The poem ends with a desision to fill
in the missing details.
Ideas, Themes and Issues
Our sense of indentity begins in
childhood and is closely linked
to our history, culture and
When the British Empire colonised
countries in the 19th and 20th Centuries
children were often educated in English
and taught only British History
History is selective and is often written by the
strongest side in any conflict. There are always two
sides, but often only one gets heard.
The Caribbean figures in the poem had no power and were
forced to rebel to change their situation, just as the voice in the
poem had to.
Form, Structure and Language
The free verse form, lack of punctuation and
use of Creole in the poem could reflect the
voice's refusal to use conventional English
forms and Standard English.
The tone is mocking in places but becomes
increaslingly defiant as the words 'dem tell
me' are repeated
Metaphors linking to the Caribbean
figures to light are a contrast to the
images of blindness that describe
his Eurocentric education. These
images create a link between
understanding your own cultureand
the ideas of enlightenment.
In consistent rhymes and
half rhymes reflect the
voice's missing knowledge
and feeling of
The shorter italicised lines
draw out attention to the
significant historical figures.
These lines sound incantatory
as though the voicein the
poem is calling them to life.