Niyi Osundare’s THE LEADER AND THE LED Content Analysis

Niyi Osundare’s THE LEADER AND THE LED Content Analysis

Analysis

Popular Nigerian poet Professor Niyi Osundare is known for his simple, powerful symbolisms and apt imagery. Through the use of symbolism, this poem explores the subject of leadership. Osundare outlines the requirements for a leadership role in “the Led.”

Osundare uses the symbol of the forest to represent human society. He examines the causes and inadequacies of leadership in different countries. Leaders are needed to lead animals, herbivores, and carnivores.

People are drawn to the leadership position because they share their opinions with the group. The gathering of animals quickly picks out the faults of each aspirant. The forest sage informs the animals about the type of Leader they need, one who is a “hybrid” of all the habits.

The sage continues to focus on the qualities that make a great leader. The poem subtly highlights the qualities a compassionate and sensible leader should possess and, in general, what to look for when looking for a leader. The poem also suggests that leaders should have strong relationships with their followers and be open to serving them.

The Leader is a poem with 24 lines. It’s divided into 12 stanzas, each with two lines. An overall total of 12 couplets. Remember that a couplet is a stanza with two lines is a stanza. You wouldn’t be able to forget that, I suppose.

The poem is more than just a form. It also theorizes the essential embodiments of a leader. The poem opens with a picture of animals gathering to search for a leader. Some animals claim the right to be leaders. Lion, giraffes, zebras, elephants, warthogs, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, warthogs, warthogs, and giraffes are just a few of these animals. However, their colleagues picked out their flaws and faults. The Forest Sage calls attention to the needs of leaders when they couldn’t see one.

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Lines 1 – 2 are where the lion “claims” the Leader position. However, lines 3 -4 remind the antelopes about his “ferocious attack” on them ( lines 3 & 4 ). The Leader doesn’t feed his subjects. Thus, the lion is out.

Lines 5-6 The hyena asserts that “the crown” is his, but the impalas are horrified at his cruelty and “lethal appetite,” which they only get from their types. The Leader doesn’t oppress his subjects, so the hyena is also disqualified.

The Giraffe attempts his luck in Lines 8-8. He “desires to be at fault.” In his case, however, his eyes are “too far away from the ground.” Leaders should be close to their subjects and see the struggles they face. A leader would never be able to relate to an animal’s daily experiences.

Lines 9-10 show the zebra next, but “the pack points at the duplicity in his stripes,” which indicates his double-dealing and crookedness. A leader who isn’t forthright can’t be a good one.

Lines 11-12 show an elephant “trudging into the power tussle,” but his “trampling feet” put him at a disadvantage. No animal wants to be crushed beneath those heavy feet.

Lines 13-14: The warthog (or rhino run) loses favoritism in contention due to their “ugliness” and “riotousness,” respectively.

Lines 15-24 show that the group of animals cannot agree on a leader. The Forest Sage rescues the pack from its “stinking” state. The Forest Sage says they need a leader who mixes lion’s strength and lamb’s gentleness. He should be tough like a tiger and compassionate like a doe. He should be transparent like a river and mysterious like a lake. Finally, the Forest Sage concludes that leaders must be able to trust their followers and secure legitimacy.

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Poetic Devices

The poem contains many figures of speech. These are just a few. Other suggestions are welcome in the comments section.

  1. Simile – There’s a simile in line 16, “like a snake with no head,” which conveys the lack of direction for the pack. It’s also found in lines 21-22, “tough as a tiger, compassionate as a doe/transparent and mysterious like a river,” to indicate that a leader must be flexible and understand when to give into his people’s desires. He should have a mix of these qualities.
  2. Metaphor – The poem uses metaphors, mostly in lines 19-20: “a little bit a lion/a small bit a lamb.” This confers the ideal Leader the courage and fierceness of a lion, while the lamb’s gentleness is a blessing. This is an implicit comparison. This is what metaphor is all about!
  3. Synecdoche – “Paws” (line 4) represents the lion’s prey and violence. “Eyes,” line 8, represents the accessibility of the Giraffe to his subjects as well as the mass. “Stripes,” line 10, stands for the possible dishonesty by the zebra.
  4. Alliteration : “Pounce…paws” in line 4, “hyena…him” in line 5, “far from” in line 8, “pack points” in line 10, “rhino…riotous” inline 14, “hybrid…habits” lines 17 and 18, “little…lion” lines 19 and 20, “little…lamb” lines 20 and 21 are examples of alliteration.
  5. Parallelism – Lines 19 to 20 are “A little bit of a Lion/A small amount of a Lamb”; and lines 21-22: “tough as a Tiger, compassionate like a Doe/transparent like a river, mystifying like a lake.”
  6. Symbolism The whole story (its actors, the search for a leader) represents contemporary human experiences; the electioneering process – campaigns and elections. The lion and the hyena are oppressive forces. The antelopes represent the poor, and the impalas represent the oppressed. Zebra is for corrupt leaders, while giraffe leaders are distant from the people.
  7. Paradox – There’s an interplay between two opposing ideas in line 21: “tough as a tiger and compassionate like a doe” and line 22: “transparent like the river, mysteriously like a lake.” These lines may contradict each other, but the idea is that a leader should be a combination of all these qualities.
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Moral Lesson

The third-person narrative technique Niyi Osundare uses in The Leader and the Lead is the point of view that allows unrestricted knowledge about the struggle of the animals to elect their Leader. This third-person narrative technique is omniscient. Niyi Osundare uses third-person pronouns like “his,” “him,” and “they’re,” as well as their third-person equivalents, such as “lion,” zebra,” elephant,” “followers,” and so on. He details the events and draws on the reactions of the animals. For example, take the announcement by the lion and the reaction of the antelope, etc.

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