“AT SUNSET” poem by Alfred Kisubi Background, Setting, Summary/Analysis

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At Sun Set – Alfred Kisubi

At sun set, lit oil-filled trenches far afield
Create a smokescreen over the city on the Tigris
Rising up above the eight-lane flyovers
Lingering high above Mesopotamia plain
Sweeping over grandiose war memorials,
Pervading mosques and walled-off presidential palaces
Gliding over the flat skyline of a few high rises

As darkness falls, new air raids rock
The sprawling city of mud-brick houses,
3rd infantry brigade advances
Fracturing the bedrock of a people in pain
Tight-tiger claws on the trigger of the grenade
Take command to “Go ahead and invade
Bang, break and ransack the places
For weapons of “Mass Destruction”

Though smoke bites their eyes
Thousands of poor people take to the streets
Looking for loadable loot and eatable treats
Air raid sirens down their voices
As sun sets on their freedom and fame
Shite militias tote their AK-47 assault riffles
Sunni insurgents shoot their IED’s, fomenting scuffles

After Friday prayers, Sunnis protest
Joining millions in cities across the Globe
To manifest newly found freedom and fame
Burning flags and effigies of those who grab
As sun sets on foreign forces and mayhem
Nearby checkpoint smolders in flames
Smoke rises up above and beyond
Their newly exported freedom and fame


Disclaimer : This is solely put together by IBK Emmanuel, and everything written here is Authentic and Unique and totally free of Plagiarism/ work of any other Author 


Trenches – talk about trenches, it a long, narrow ditch dug by troops to provide a place of shelter from enemy fire. Trenches is mostly associated with the battlefields of northern France and Belgium in the First World War, this trenches is what Alfred Kisubi use to describe the place where the IRAC government set their oil well on fire due that they already realised, even from start, the notion of the so called American- British invasive help (to assist the citizen restore back democracy from their tyrant government) which is backed up by other ulterior motives

Smoke screen – it’s like a ruse designed to disguise someone’s real intentions or activities. Also a cloud of smoke created to conceal military operations.

Tigris – The Tigris is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of south-eastern Turkey through Iraq and empties itself into the Persian Gulf.

Mesopotamia– Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent. Today, Mesopotamia occupies modern Iraq. Also, Situated in the fertile valleys between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the region is now home to modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey and Syria.

Shite militias– The term militia in contemporary Iraq refers to armed groups that fight on behalf of or as part of the Iraqi government, the Mahdi Army and Badr Organization being two of the biggest. Many predate the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, but some have emerged since, such as the Facilities Protection Service.

Sunnis– Sunnis focus on following the Prophet’s example whereas Shi’a focus on the lineage of Muhammad’s family through a series of Imams. Then, why did the sunni and shite split?? A disagreement over succession after Mohammed’s death in 632 split Muslims into Islam’s two main sects, Sunni and Shia

IED’S – An improvised explosive device (IED) attack is the use of a “homemade” bomb and/or destructive device to destroy, incapacitate, harass, or distract. IEDs are used by criminals, vandals, terrorists, suicide bombers, and insurgents

Smolder– burn slowly with smoke but no flame.

Fermenting Scuffles – a short, confused fight or struggle at close quarters which is stir up


Alfred Kisubi “AT SUNSET” reflects on the poet’s takes as he was seen not to be in strong support of the US led coalition of 35 countries attack on Iraq. Alfred Kisubi is a Uganda-born American, Uganda is a country in Africa, so the poem is generally referred to as an African poem. Unlike some black American poet who are pure born and breed in United States or European country like Maya Angelou the writer of “Caged Bird”. Alfred Kisubi, in his keenness to Africa society at large has written books which in their languages and structure possesses Africa element, these include “Drum of liberation” and his “Time wind” poem, his experience in the education field and all he acquired from is everyday exposure with different people from different ends must has justify is African notions. Alfred Kisubi once worked in Uganda Ministry of information, Kampala and also as a research officer at Nakasero, Ministry of information, as a one-time high school English literature and religious studies teacher in Kisii, Kenya. He, through desire and passion continue in the field, got to the height of it when he became a lecturer in University of Missouirikansas in 1986. He left Uganda during the military rule which begins in 1971 after the takeover of the country by the Uganda Military led by General Idi Amin, against the President Milton Obote on January 25th, 1971, despite this, he was still keen on writing and try to point out ills in the society not only in Africa but satirizing the onslaught of the self-righteous effect of the US invading IRAQ in other to help liberate Kuwait from the so-called domination of the Iraq even though there are ulterior motives of the United States military behind it.

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At Sunset from the very looks of it is a metaphorize statement to talk about era between the dawn, which we can now assume to be the time before the invader arrive, and the immediate entrance which “set” out their freedom. Sunset was meant to be a time characterized with happiness, bliss and elation, but the case with the poem is the reversal where “sunset” was the main harbinger of the Iraqi people’s woes and turmoil. The second like of the poem portrays a visual imagery showing “smoke” on the scene of the ancient Tigris as the reader persist to realize that there is already an invasion of a bigger country or force on a lesser one. This is to portray the US led invasion with other 35 countries on Iraq and making a clarion call as to who made United states the policemen of the world when they themselves wasn’t all with pure intention.

The first stanza of the poem and the second make us realize that it wasn’t just one invasion the US led forces came against Iraq but twice and there was only little interval between this years. The first invasion was in 1990 and the US-British led justifies their claim as trying to stop the Iraqi Invasion and Annexation of Kuwait. Kuwait is famous for their rich oil heritage and is located in northern edge of eastern Arabia at the tip of Persian Gulf, it borders Iraq to the North and Saudi Arabia to the south. Perhaps it borders Iraq and that is the reason behind conflict between this rich oil nations, there has always been problem with Bordering nations such as the of Nigeria-Cameroon war over the Bakasi peninsula, this must have call the attention of the of the west led invasion of the Iraqi people in 1990 and subsequently the US military re-invading Iraq in 2003 justifying that they were in search of “weapon of mass destruction” possessed by the Iraqi people. The stanza one above talks about the devastating effect the first invasion has on the people, how they were yet to recover but got invaded the second time “as darkness fall, new air raid rocks”. Kisubi use this to depict the fear of the people when they realize the invaders are back, now even stronger with a total different cause exposing that they (Iraqi people) are in possession of weapon of mass destruction. The description of the scene was that of a predator chasing its prey like that of the marauding beast Mtshali talks about in “Nightfall in Soweto”, the predator being the US led armies “takes command” to go ahead and “invade, bang break and ransack the places for weapon of mass destruction”, The US invader invades on ground to end Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror and his support of Terrorism was the self-acclaimed reason on which they invaded the second time. These above-mentioned words are powerful and it could make a reader see through the eye of the writer that it’s a big war, a war not to spare anything at any cost until the aim of the war is achieved. As much as it might seems like this invaders are fighting for right cause, it is to be noted that the people at the receiving end were the lot of masses who are now seen to “loot” any “eatable food” as the “Air raid” (The US army planes) has destabilize activities in the country causing the poor people to wanting to survive at every cost, this has it that one problem led to many, the invasion first, the breakdown of law and order as second and now crimes of different sorts now becomes norms on the street.

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Another important point, pointed out of the poem was, due to the war, some long time sectarians war got exacerbated. We realized that even before the invasion there are two Muslim sect or types in the country, the Shite and the Sunnis. These two sects under the guise of the war stands at loggerhead with each other as seen in “Shite militia tote their AK 47 assault rifle”, “Sunnis insurgent shoot their IED’s” and it was mentioned that this two groups “fomented scuffle”. The third stanza makes us realize the desperation of the of the tormented people as it can no longer be contained. There is a resultant commotion, sectarian crises, religious violence as welcome to myriads of disturbance ensue. in the end, all this forces had to come together to drive out the invaders putting aside their differences.

On long run, the scene was seen as that of millions of people protesting against the US invasion, calling the attention of the whole world to the self-righteous invasion backed up with ulterior motive of the US army and how it has wreaked havoc on the people. The poet narrate that the Sunnis even participated in the protest as “After Friday prayers Sunnis protest joining millions in the city across the globe” there was a sporadic change in the event on how to drive out the invaders. The last stanza shows how the “sunset” later on the “foreign forces” when the sectarian and the people has gotten the power. They (The people of Iraq) went further making “nearby checkpoint smolders to be in flame themselves” and they (Iraq people) celebrate their newly found freedom as “smoke rises above and beyond to show their newly found freedom and fame”.


Theme of destruction: This is illustrated in the first line of the first stanza – “lit oil-filled trenches” and other lines of the first stanza where the effects of destructive action of the invaders is depicted, as they linger. The theme of destruction is also shown in the second stanza as “new air raids rock the sprawling city”. Lines 6 and 7 clearly demonstrate this – “Go ahead and invade / Bang, break and ransack the places”. In stanzas three and four, there are also incidents of destruction of lives and property. This brings to the awfulness of war and injustice to the fore.

Theme of poverty: As illustrated in the whole poem, the people at the receiving end of these invasions are largely the poor masses and these people are further impoverished by the reckless wars. The “walled-up presidential palaces” and “a few high rises” in stanza 1 is contrasted with “the sprawling city of mud-brick houses” of the masses in stanza 2 to show how majority of the people across the cities fare. In stanza 3, “thousands of poor people take to streets” to look for what to eat, not minding the dangers of the war. They could only have been driven by extreme want.

Violence / social disturbance: The poem also focuses on theme of civil disturbance as the invasion results in looting and killings as “thousands of poor people take to the streets / Looking for loadable loot and eatable treats”. In the process, there is a breakdown of law and order, and many become victims, some are maimed while some are killed.

Religious and sectarian crisis: The attacks is shown to be a trigger to the pent-up religious grievances and differences between divergent groups uprising also gives rise to religious crisis as demonstrated in the poem where one religious sect square against the other – “Shite militias tote their Ak-47 assault riffles / Sunni insurgents shoot their IED’s”. However later, they were seen to join forces together against the invaders.


What is the mood in Alfred Kisubi’s At sunset??

The mood is the overall feeling of the reader when he/she reads a work of art, what it conveys and how it affect the the mindset of the writer. The mood in Alfred Kisubi at sunset is that of Sadness, pity, woes and crying for help. This makes the reader imagine almost through out the poem what it is like to be invaded and how it shatters the hope of the common people in the country.


What is the Tone of Alfred Kisubi’s “At sunset”??

The tone of the poem is the way a writer presents his or her view to the audience, Alfred Kissubi’s tone in the poem is that of a distressful person tired and sick of what has become the fate of the iraqi people in face of the self-righteous notion of the US led invasion.

Literary devices

The poet employs several literary devices in the poem. which include personification, metaphor, alliteration, irony

Personification: The poet deploys the device in fourth line of the second stanza – “fracturing the bedrock of a people in pain” and the first line of the third stanza – “though smoke bites their eyes”

Metaphor: the expression, “sunset” is used metaphorically in the poem to denote the end of the people’s peace and freedom. Also, in line 5 of stanza 2, the poet compares the action of the coalition fighters to that of animal of prey whose sole aim is to kill, while on a hunt “tight-tiger claws on the trigger of the grenade”.

Irony: it is ironic that the intended peace mission of the coalition forces has turned out to spell more doom for the suffering masses. As a result of the invasion, more people become poorer than ever, and the fragile peace and freedom had become extinct.

Alliteration: Alliteration is illustrated in the following lines:

Stanza 2, line 4 – Fracturing the bedrock of a people in pain
Stanza 2, line – 5 Tight-tiger claws on the trigger of the grenade
Stanza 2, line 7 – Bang, break and ransack the places

Stanza 3, line 2 – Thousands of poor people take to the streets
Stanza 3, line 4 – Looking for loadable loot and eatable treats
Stanza 3, line 6 – As sun sets on their freedom and fame

Allusion: In the poem, there is an allusion to Tigris and Mesopotamia, as a reference to the rich historical/ cultural background of the country (Iraq), presently destroyed by mindless wars. Iraq which was formerly known as Mesopotamia is situated in fertile valleys between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This region is also sometimes referred to as “Cradle of Civilization” because of innovations that arose from the early societies in this region and are counted among one of the earliest known human civilizations. The region is ironically ravaged by war.

Disclaimer : This is solely put together by IBK Emmanuel, and everything written here is Authentic and Unique and totally free of Plagiarism/ work of any other Author 








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