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“Explain with reference to the context…”

“Explain with reference to the context…”

When I take a look at school syllabuses or at West Africa School Certificate Examination results of today I am intrigued by the subject LITERATURE IN ENGLISH. I still do not know what it means because when I sat to the Cambridge School Certificate examination in 1948, I was offered English Language and English Literature as separate subjects. The Literature syllabus consisted of three books or novels which were the set books for the Literature examination. In addition to questions on the subject matter of the book, there was a series of questions on specific texts. Candidates were asked to explain WITH REFERENCE TO THE CONTEXT and a quotation would be given. Take this example from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “FRIENDS, ROMANS AND COUNTRYMEN; I HAVE COME TO BURY CAESAR AND NOT TO PRAISE HIM….” The unstated questions which the candidate was expected to deduce were, who made the statement and when and where was it made and what circumstances led to it, etc. etc.

From its front page headline of Thursday March 27 of the New Citizen newspaper (Tolongbo?) simply stated that “Grandpa Pa-o-pa Dr. Sama Banya polarizes the SLPP” The editor did not give his readers any background to the statement or to the circumstances leading to it. His only interest would appear to be a strong desire as always to ridicule Dr. Banya or to further inflame the hearts and minds of those members of the SLPP who may have a grievance against Maada Bio. But by now he must have realized that as far as Dr. Banya is concerned the effort is a fruitless one. It is also obvious that the great editor or his reporter was not of the old school of Puawui otherwise he would not have made a sensational such a vain front page headline.

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