Tolson’s Libretto for Liberia is a poem in which he views the history of Liberia and portrays a future for the country. It includes the past, present and future. Every section of the poem is represented by a note from the solfège scale.
In the 4th section or FA, Tolson mentions “The Futurafrique”. Tolson imagines a Liberia in which he mentions many places in Liberia. The future is portrayed almost as a light that zooms through and touching every place in Liberia. The future is also portrayed as unlearning Eurocentric points of view. Leaving those internalizations behind. Tolson sees the future as flourishing.
This poem was definitely difficult to understand. There was a lot of looking up I had to do. At the end of the second stanza of FA, Tolson ends The Futurafrique portrayal with “the Unhappie Wight of the Question Mark crossed the Al Sirat”. I was confused about what this meant. After looking up Al Sirat, I found that Tolson may be trying to say: The Futurafrique, with the changes brought out by the future, will end with Liberia will enter paradise. According to Islam, Al Sirat is a bridge over hell that one must cross on the day of resurrections on which one’s beliefs and deeds will be evaluated. Based on the life one lived, it takes a short or long time to cross the bridge or one falls into hell. The “Question Mark” refers to the way Europeans see Liberia.