“The Anvil and the Hammer” by Kofi Awooner is a poem that describes the road to transformation and rebirth. The persona is caught in the web of uncertainty between the past and the present, between the ancient tradition and modern practice. The persona speaks from the point f view of one moving from uncertainty to final liberation or freedom. The ‘anvil” and “hammer” are two special tools or instruments used by blacksmiths to transform raw metals to enviable shapes and designs. Therefore, whatever captivity or imprisonment the speaker is entrapped in, there is the hope of rebirth and there will be, “the joy of new songs”. The imprisonment is for a while but joy comes thereafter this message is encapsulated in the following lines:
Caught between the anvil and the hammer
In the forging house of a new life.
Transforming the pangs that delivered me
Into the joy of new songs
In these lines, the speaker goes through tortuous
Moments that will transform him into the joy of new songs. The period of the past, characterized by the celebration of their cultural heritage cannot be wished away for the love of the new “jargon” that is, the western lifestyle. The trapping of the past, tender and tenuous…are laced with the flimsy glories of paved streets. The jargon of a new dialectic…
Simply put, the speaker prefers his traditional lifestyle to this western-style civilization. Thus, he beckons on his ancestors to sew the old days for us that we can wear them under our new garment.” This perhaps implies that the speaker does not outrightly reject the western culture but speaks of a blend of the two especially as there is growing evidence that the upcoming generation has lost touch with the heritage of the African past.
A final chant of patriotism is implied in lines 18-19, where the speaker believes that if we ignore the negative times and
“make ourselves new flags and anthems,
…lift high the banner of the land…,
Our songs shall reverberate across the seas.
Hence, the trials of the past will strengthen us to glory.