Ambush By Gbemisola Adeoti

The poem (ambush) focuses on social problems engineered by those who took control the affairs of governance from colonialist. These crops of people did not conform with the needs and expectations of the people who expected a lot from them taking into cognizance the factors that brought them into power.

The poet (Gbemisola) uses the following images to illustrate them: “Lord”, “giant whale”, “saber-toothed Tiger”, “bayonets of tribulation” and “giant hawk”. All these images stand for fear and oppression. The poet Gbemisola talks about the aborted lopes, aspirations and dreams of the people shattered and scattered by the rulers for their personal satisfaction.

The people’s dream and hope for a better future than the one created by the colonialist collapsed in front of them.

The poet of Ambush Gbemisola compares the nation to biblical Peter, who toil but gets no reward until Jesus intervened in his affairs, ironically, it seems as if there was no saviour in sight for the people. The political class introduces problems not envisaged by the people before the independence. All these led to unrest, restlessness, fear and unpredictable future for the people they governed. The olds and the youngs were affected by mal-administration.

The various policies initiated by the government affected them adversely. Although, they were very weak to challenge the system that brought their hopes and aspirations to nothing.

In spite of this bad situations, the poem Ambush ends on a note of cautious optimism for a better tomorrow to be propelled by good leaders, who will see to the welfare of the people and not of their own only.

The poet Gbemisola of Ambush create a mental picture of war front by using the military term, “ambush”. Ambush is a sudden attack on someone by people who have been hiding and waiting for them. In the poem “ambush”, we have two types of characters: the Hunter and the hunted. According to the poet, the hunted were people who seems too docile to control their destiny and the Hunter who control their destiny economically, socially and politically.

Ambush by Gbemisola Adeoti

Poetic Device In The Poem AMBUSH by Gbemisola Adeoti

The language of the poem is very simple and clear. The image portrayed in the poem clearly brought out the feelings and messages of the poet: Lamentation and hope for a better tomorrow.

In Stanza i ” the land is a giant Whale…. Out desires.

Stanza ii ” The land is a saber-toothed tiger…. Walk at dusk.

Stanza iii ” The land is a giant hawk…. Hoots at dusk.

All these lines are Personification.

Metaphor: lines 1 – ” The land is giant whale”

Lines 8 – ” The land is saber-toothed tiger”

Lines 14 – ” The land is a giant hawk”

Allusion: (biblical) stanza 1 – ” The land is giant Whale….. All Peters with petered our desires”

Metonymy: Stanza 1 –3 The image of the land.

Run-on-line: Stanza 4 – ” The land lies patiently a head… Towards the shore of possibilities”.


“giant whale”

“saber-toothed Tiger”


“giant hawk” (symbols of fear, war and confusion)


Lines 2 – “That swallow the sinker”

Lines 7 – “The land is saber-toothed tiger”

Lines 16 – “as it hovers and hoots in space”

Theme In the Poem Ambush by Gbemisola Adeoti

  1. Theme of cautious optimist.
  2. Theme of subtle resistance.
  3. Theme of social inequalities.
  4. Theme of political problems.
  5. Theme of oppressiveness
  6. Theme of unfulfill expectations.

Gbemisola Adeoti the poet of Ambush is a lecturer in English Department of OAU, ILE-IFE, Nigeria his areas of teaching and research include dramatic literature poetry, literary history/theory and popular culture. He as the author of Naked Soles, co-editor (with Bjorn Beckman) of intellectuals and African development and editor of Muse and Nemesis: Critical perspectives on Ahmed Yerima’s Drama. He was a Britition Academy visiting fellow at the school of English, University of Leeds, United Kingdom, from Oct to Dec 2008. He is a postdoctoral fellow of the African Humanities Program organized by the Americans Council of learned Society (ACLS).

The Poem Ambush

The land is giant whale

That swallow the sinker

With hook, line and bait

Aborting dreams of good catch

Fishers turn home at dusk

Blue Peter on empty ships

All Peters with petered out desires


The land is a saber-foothed tiger,

That cries deep in the glade

While infants shudder home

The grizzled one snatch their gut

From bayonets of tribulation

Halting venturous walk at dusk


The Lord is a giant hawk

That courts unceasing disaster as it hovers and hoots in space

The land lies patiently ahead

Awaiting in ambush.

Those who point away from a direction

Where nothing happens

Towards the shore of possibilities.

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