Tidalectics: Excavating History in Kamau Brathwaite’s The Arrivants


Author: Chinedu Nwadike, Spiritan University Nneochi, Abia State, Nigeria
Email: chineduvango@gmail.com
Published: June 05, 2020

Citation: Nwadike, C. (2020). Tidalectics: Excavating History in Kamau Brathwaite’s The Arrivants. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijah.7.1.06


Poetry, as can be seen in Kamau Brathwaite’s The Arrivants: A new world trilogy, is a captivating, entertaining and informative form of literature. It is also in this capacity that it can be deployed to perform specific functions in society. The Arrivants is a poetic project in which Brathwaite vigorously both establishes his concept of tidalectics and undertakes what is described in this essay as an excavation of history. Events in history brought up for excavation to highlight their features and social impacts include the slave trade and the colonial era. By means of a critical approach, this essay points out that full appreciation of the circumstances of the slave trade requires it to be treated alongside the era of colonialism since these two events began, interacted and ended almost at the same time. Furthermore, from a close study of all the poems in the work under study, this essay shows that these poems achieve their common objective of foregrounding the experiences of African slaves during those dehumanizing centuries and spotlighting challenges people of African descent in the Caribbean islands and elsewhere continue to face in the modern world. In other words, Brathwaite’s excavation of this tidalectic history furnishes a strong argument that modern society should engage in meaningful dialogue with this past rather than pretend further discussions are not needed and that it is by so doing that the modern world can checkmate repetition of those mistakes in the forms of neo-slavery and neo-colonialism which are already undermining multiculturalism.

Keywords: Brathwaite, Caribbean, colonialism, poetry, tidalectics, transatlantic slave trade