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Anu Sawhney 12 A

Unseen Commentary Essay


The poem, Hello Day- Worldwide by Kobina Eyi Acquah expresses disdain and disapproval
towards the materialistic and conformist attitudes of the people in todays world, in response
to the announcement of a World Hello Day, insisting that one day cannot change the
deplorable situation. Using a variety of literary techniques, Acquah expresses his
condemnation through the description of the role of pleasantries and greetings in two distinct
types of societies. Acquah also explores the significance of such a World Hello Day from
these different perspectives, and this is reflected in the structure of the poem. The poem
progresses from a point where the author describes the current state of the situation to one
where he finally explores the causes and solutions to this pressing issue. Essentially, he uses
the overarching theme of the deteriorated state of human communication and the motif of
greetings and pleasantries to incite the need of a world where ones actions and thoughts
arent restricted by greed and hostility.
The author begins the poem by talking of their town. In referring to the town in this way, he
creates some distance between the people of this town and himself. In this town, the greeting
good morning is considered offensive and provocative. This is ironical since one
normally associates the exchange of pleasantries with being polite and considerate. Acquah
uses the satire to convey the condemnation he feels towards the increasingly indifferent
attitudes people express towards each other. He then suggest the need for A hello day,
regarding the hello itself as a gesture and a token. It seems that Acquah is implying that
the symbolic act of saying hello could remedy the disconnection that exists between
individuals.
In the next stanza of the paragraph, the poet introduces an entirely contrasting perspective of
the situation. He says that in our [his] village a man must show cause if they dont greet
another person when they pass them by. The word must implies that this politeness people
show towards each other is not genuine but rather out of expectation or obligation. Here, not
greeting another person is seen as offensive this scenario is juxtaposed by the one described
in the first stanza. The poet uses the word our, still distancing himself from the audience.
In the following part of this stanza, from lines 14 to16, Acquah uses anaphora by repeating
the word And at the beginning of every line. This lays emphasis on the importance of a
decorous greeting in this specific village. Perhaps at a symbolic level, this village
represents the opposite extreme of total indifference between individuals. Both of these
situations arent desirable, and as the poet says in our village too/ We need to be reconciled.
This suggests that both of these paradigms are imperfect and that just one day isnt enough
to perfect this, but this may be the first step. Not only this, the poet uses caesura in line 19
(From strain and friction But) which reiterates the disconnectedness of people.
Acquah says that a day must be declared then it should be The beginning of a lifetime
commitment, reiterating the notion that World Hello Day should be the start and promise of
a more intrinsically connected humankind. However, the poet also acknowledges the lack of
human initiative towards this cause by saying that such a day must be created. From lines
27 to 31, the poet lists out the barriers between individuals windows and gates, borders
and ports and fences and walls - that must be eliminated in order to create such an
optimistic world. By doing this, Acquah highlights the numerous ways in which people have
blocked the outside world from their own. These barriers can be interpreted literally, since

Anu Sawhney 12 A

many of these such as fences and walls are commonplace in todays world. One may also
interpret them at a metaphorical level since they could also represent the differences in
cultural, personal or religious beliefs between individuals and even societies. Either way, he
uses words like demolition, abolition and unbarring while talking about overcoming
such barriers, thus suggesting the strength of these barriers and how difficult it may be to
actually eradicate them.
In the same stanza, the poet goes on to propose that perhaps Is a hello day, no more.
Acquah appears to think that maybe people dont want more interaction than the rather
superficial greeting of hello. As we have seen, the symbol hello has been developed
throughout the poem, representing the falseness of human nature instead of knowing and
being known by others. Acquah uses figurative language to portray how perfunctory such a
greeting is in describing it as contrapted, like a toothpaste smile and limp like their cold
fingers-shake. The use of the neology and the hyphenated phrases reiterates the forced and
non-genuine nature of the greetings offered. Toothpaste is soft and amorphous, thus has been
compared to smiles that lack the feeling and genuine aspect.
The next stanza also suggests that the people of the world want a Hello day just for a
momentary flash of the world beyond. The last two lines of the poem are particularly
significant. It is in these lines that, for the first time, the poet uses the word we. This is
perhaps done to show that the poet himself is not excluded from the indifferent individuals of
the world he has conjured in the poem. One could also interpret these lines as the poet
admitting to the fact that he to, like the rest of the world, is also reluctant to open himself up
to the world,
I feel that the poet raises a valid issue regarding how the advent of things such as
globalization and urbanization are rapidly causing us to grow further apart. His frustration is
evident through the diction and tone of the poem and effectively provokes ones own
retrospection of life and the value of strong relationships with others. In conclusion, the poem
achieves the next level in addressing the issue since it explores so many different perspectives
of the situation.