Not my Business

Report
Passport to Democracy
Not My Business
What connections could you make between
the following words?
business
action
ignore
them
me
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
They picked Akanni up one morning
Beat him soft like clay
And stuffed him down the belly
Of a waiting jeep.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
They came one night
Booted the whole house awake
And dragged Danladi out,
Then off to a lengthy absence.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
Chinwe went to work one day
Only to find her job was gone:
No query, no warning, no probe Just one neat sack for a stainless record.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
And then one evening
As I sat down to eat my yam
A knock on the door froze my hungry
hand.
The jeep was waiting on my bewildered
lawn
Waiting, waiting in its usual silence.
© Niyi Osundare
What’s the poem about?

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
In what country or type of
place do you think this
poem is set? Why?
Who do you think ‘they’
are?
What sort of people do
‘they’ seem to be?
What words make you
think that?

Write a quick character
profile for Akanni, Chinwe
and Danladi.

What sort of people do
they seem to be? What
words make you think
that?

What has happened to
them?
They picked Akanni up one morning
Beat him soft like clay
And stuffed him down the belly
Of a waiting jeep.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
They came one night
Booted the whole house awake
And dragged Danladi out,
Then off to a lengthy absence.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
Chinwe went to work one day
Only to find her job was gone:
No query, no warning, no probe Just one neat sack for a stainless record.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
And then one evening
As I sat down to eat my yam
A knock on the door froze my hungry
hand.
The jeep was waiting on my bewildered
lawn
Waiting, waiting in its usual silence.
© Niyi Osundare
Group language analysis
The poet could also be suggesting that Akanni has been
defeated emotionally and spiritually so he’s no longer
recognisable.
To defeat; win
 “Beat
Something
you mold into
something
else
him soft like clay”
earth; mud
To hit or
assault
The poet has created a picture of a man being hit so badly
his body has turned to earth or mud.
Group language analysis
“and stuffed him down the belly
Of a waiting jeep”
Group language analysis
“Booted the whole house awake”
Group language analysis
“no query, no warning, no probejust one neat sack for a stainless
record.”
Group language analysis
“What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?”
Group language analysis
“A knock on the door froze my
hungry hand.”
Group language analysis
“The jeep was waiting on my bewildered
lawn
Waiting, waiting in its usual silence.”
Using art to fight a cause

Niyi Osundare is a Nigerian poet , writer, literary critic
and lecturer who lives and works in New Orleans. He
has always been a passionate champion of the right to
free speech and is a strong believer in the power of
words, saying, "to utter is to alter".

What do you think he wants to alter by writing this
poem?

Can a poem, novel, painting, film or any other art work
really alter anything?
Write your own poem to speak out about your
issue.

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Think about your issue. What is happening that bothers
you?
Think of three examples of things you found in your
research. These will be your three verses. Use emotive
words to use so we feel sympathy for someone or
something.
Think of a repeated chorus that shows why no one
might bother to do anything as long as they have..........
Think of the worst case scenario of this issue if no one
took any action. This will be your poem’s ending.
Not my business

They ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------.

(Someone)-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What business of mine is it
So long ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------?
What business of mine is it
So long-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------?
They -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------.
And then ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What business of mine is it
So long ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------?
The --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------.
Action: The fact or process of doing something, typically to
achieve an aim
Put up posters
around school or
college.
Action: The fact or process of doing
something, typically to achieve an aim
Lobby MP – write a
letter, email,
phone...
Action: The fact or process of doing
something, typically to achieve an aim
March loads of
people through the
centre of a public
space
Action: The fact or process of doing
something, typically to achieve an aim
Stage a “sit in” - mass
group of people who sit
and refuse to move at a
site relevant to your
cause.
Action: The fact or process of doing
something, typically to achieve an aim
Stage a publicity stunt
– arrange something
unusual and tell the
media
Action: The fact or process of doing
something, typically to achieve an aim
Hand out leaflets
that advertise
your action/
event/concerns
Action: The fact or process of doing
something, typically to achieve an aim
Hold a public
meeting to allow
people to voice
their views
Action: The fact or process of doing
something, typically to achieve an aim
Create a group
on Facebook
and spread the
word.
Action: The fact or process of doing
something, typically to achieve an aim
Volunteer your
services to get
things done for
your cause.
Action: The fact or process of doing
something, typically to achieve an aim
Hold a
fundraising
event to raise
money for a
charity that
supports your
issue.
Add four more actions to this list that might
help to solve the problem you care about.
1
2
3
4
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In your group,
whereby you
agree what constraints you are working within.
For example, you may agree that actions taken must be
safe, legal and achievable within class time.
Consider school rules as well as the reputation of your
school. Your final action plan may need to be approved
by a teacher or principal.
Agree how you will work together – How will you make
sure everyone has access to information if someone is
absent from school, what is reasonable to do for
homework etc...
Sign it
Get going on your plan!

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