The Bottle and the Bushman: Poems of the Prodigal Son


52 pages
ISBN 0-919754-07-4





Reviewed by David A. Kent

David A. Kent teaches English at Centennial College and is the editor of
Christian Poetry in Canada.


Mohamud Togane offers a critique of white culture and religion in this collection of 43 poems. The verse is energetic, violent, angry; it mocks, parodies, criticizes; it is polemical, rhythmical, iconoclastic. It edges on blasphemy at times, and yet is paradoxically dependent on the white literary and biblical culture to which so often alludes. Togane is also humourous, exploiting witty inversions such as in the lyric “Black Man’s Burden.” After much vituperation, Togane the prodigal — fattened and satiated by white society — tries to go home to Africa. He has his nostalgia rudely cured. The second half of his collection turns the irony on himself. On his return he is confronted by oppression equal to, on greater than, anything he has found in Canada: political dictatorship, starvation, misogyny, and corruption. Togane’s poetry speaks out of his dilemma: the civilized Somali bushman, caught between two worlds. He demands our attention, and his poems accomplish their rhetorical intent.


Togane, Mohamud S., “The Bottle and the Bushman: Poems of the Prodigal Son,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,