ArticlePDF Available

Poetic Exploration of Political and Sociological Changes in Nigeria: The "Handwriting on the Wall" from Nigerian Poets Introduction

Authors:

Abstract

Solanke is a lecturer of Oral Literature and African Literature at the Department of English, Faculty of Humanities, Ajayi Crowther University. His works are basically concentrated on extricating and encouraging the hidden tendency of humankind to correct social ills through intrinsic embedded goodness in pursuit of an egalitarian society where all will be free and independent. His teaching fields encompass African Prose, Poetry and Drama, Creative Writing, General Oral Literature and African Oral Literature. Abstract For more than half a century, the Nigerian socio-political landscape had been occupied by military adventurists and aberrant politicians – both betrayers of the nation. The people and the country have, therefore, been on the receiving end of different uncaring governments. The onus to call these rulers and sometimes, even the ruled, to order has most times fallen on the Nigerian artistes, -a major part of who are poets. These set of writers have, for the period under review, been recorders, critics and way-showers to all involved in the development of Nigeria. This paper avers that the Nigerian poet has also gone a step further by not just writing and complaining but by also proffering ways out of the imbroglio the country has been enmeshed in by its near inept leadership. Through the various poems examined in this paper, Nigerian poets have proved to be visionaries and inspirers for the citizenry who dream of a better country.
Poetic Exploration of Political and Sociological
Changes in Nigeria: The “Handwriting on the
Wall” from Nigerian Poets
by
Stephen O. Solanke, PhD
Department of English, Faculty of Humanities
Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Oyo State, Nigeria.
myacada@gmail.com
Stephen Oladele Solanke is a lecturer of Oral Literature and African Literature at the Department of
English, Faculty of Humanities, Ajayi Crowther University. His works are basically concentrated on
extricating and encouraging the hidden tendency of humankind to correct social ills through intrinsic
embedded goodness in pursuit of an egalitarian society where all will be free and independent. His
teaching fields encompass African Prose, Poetry and Drama, Creative Writing, General Oral Literature
and African Oral Literature.
Abstract
For more than half a century, the Nigerian socio-political landscape had been occupied by
military adventurists and aberrant politicians both betrayers of the nation. The people and the
country have, therefore, been on the receiving end of different uncaring governments. The onus
to call these rulers and sometimes, even the ruled, to order has most times fallen on the Nigerian
artistes, - a major part of who are poets. These set of writers have, for the period under review,
been recorders, critics and way-showers to all involved in the development of Nigeria. This
paper avers that the Nigerian poet has also gone a step further by not just writing and
complaining but by also proffering ways out of the imbroglio the country has been enmeshed in
by its near inept leadership. Through the various poems examined in this paper, Nigerian poets
have proved to be visionaries and inspirers for the citizenry who dream of a better country.
50
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.10, June 2013
Introduction
Aiyejina’s work (1988), “Recent Nigerian Poetry in English: An Alter-native Tradition” and
Sule’s (2011) “Art and Outrage: A Critical Survey of Recent Nigerian Poetry in English,”
categorize Nigerian poetry and poets into two and three generations respectively. This paper sees
this as too hasty and pre-emptive of on-going creative national works. It must be pointed out that
it is too early to catalogue still-alive and still-productive creative artistes into different working
generations. They still belong to half a century which represents just about a human life time in
Nigeria where a man’s life expectancy is 48.95 years and a woman’s is 55.33 (IndexMundi
2013). This is also just the life span of the entity called Nigeria as at its last independence
celebration in 2012, it commemorated its 52nd year. The two papers describe Nigerian poets, like
the old war-horses, Wole Soyinka, Odia Ofeimum and J. P. Clark, as still producing works. This
paper posits that poets like Tanure Ojaide and Olu Obafemi, who came after, can still be
categorized with them while the more current poets like Ademola O. Dasylva, Joe Ushie, Femi
Oyebode, Nnimmo Bassey, Uche Nduka, and Usman Shehu become part of the one big picture.
There is an over-lap of period among these poets not only within the contemporary time they are
living but also in their thematic focuses and stylistic discoveries and usages.
It is on this basis that the poets chosen for this paper have been randomly selected from across
Nigeria’s poetic landscape as representatives of the voice of the people. The latter are citizens
who have, over-time, watched Nigeria, their country, raped by political and religious leaders
(using politics and religion as covers-up). According to Aboh (2012: 2):
“Nigerian socio-political development has presented highly political
subject matter for these poets, and maintaining the tradition of their
predecessors in terms of voicing their incenses with government’s lack of
focus but with a difference in stylistic presentation, this generation of
poets engages their poems as avenues to register their contempt with a
system that makes them slaves in their own country.”
These poets Obafemi (2001), Dasylva (2006), Ojaide (1989), Ofeimum (Soyinka 1975),
Aiyejina (Solanke 2005) and Solanke (2008) - are regarded and treated, in this paper, as a group
of one generation. Nigeria’s independence is still under a century as she is just going towards its
diamond age. Between them, these poets have seen the enthronement and overthrow of an
elected parliamentary government, a few coup d’états, and the installation of an American-styled
presidential government (and its overthrow). There was another set of military palace coups
d’états and finally the fight and struggle for a just and egalitarian society against a military
government that annulled a free and democratic election. It was this popular uprising, in the long
run, which ushered in the on-going democratic experiment from 1999.
51
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.10, June 2013
The poetry of these versatile but combative poets is not only historical, personal and national, it
is such that entreats the people to stand, fight and acquire the type of nation they dream about.
This paper examines the following six poets and their poems listed against their names: Obafemi
(2001), (“Haba Habib”, “Maradona”), Dasylva (2006), (“Compatriots Arise”, “Dancing Sigidi in
the Rain”), Ojaide (1989), (“No Prescription Cures A Country Nobody Loves”, “For My Love”,
“Future Gods”), Ofeimum (Soyinka 1975), (“Resolve”, “We Must Learn Again To Fly”),
Aiyejina (Solanke 2005), (“And So It Came To Pass”) and Solanke (2008), (“We are”).
This paper sees this generation of poets, after the 1960 Nigerian independence, as chastisers,
visionaries, inspirers and prophets of change in the country’s political and sociological
landscape. Through the portrayal of their dissatisfaction with various Nigerian governments’ -
military and civilian - actions, and the implementations of various wrong policies and strategies
in governance, these poets have allowed the people to have a peep into what a better country
could be like. Again, they have encouraged the people to look beyond their immediate
discouraging environment to a future they need to struggle for and attain. Writing about poets
and the Nigerian polity, Fasan (2012: 155) states: “Poetry, here, is a social form whose
immediacy is pressed into the urgent service of societal well-being and transformation”.
Problems of Personalities and Groups
In treating the issues that have disturbed the Nigerian state, some of the poets have focused on
the leadership of the country personalizing those involved. Dasylva (2006) portrays former
Nigerian heads of military governments like Ibrahim Babangida (in “Maradona”), and Sanni
Abacha (in “Dancing Sigidi in the Rain”) while Obafemi (2001) goes international painting
Habib Bourguiba (the former Tunisian dictator in “Haba Habib”): all in an effort to correct
visible leadership anomalies and encourage the led to stand for their rights.
In “Haba Habib”, the dictator is warned and told to “Remember to tell the rest” of his cohort
“Who trample upon the garden / They mean to nurse” to be on the look-out for revolutionaries -
individuals and groups - like “Nietzsche…/, Mau Mau, / Maji Maji, / Aba Women, / Soweto’s
petrels”. These groups have and continue, in various other forms and nomenclatures, to unseat
ruler-dictators where-ever they are found. Revolutionaries will always overcome pain for “the
pleasures of victory last”. In examining the dictatorial personality in “Maradona”, Obafemi sees
Ibrahim Babangida, a former Nigerian military head of state, as a dibbler, a seller of his people
and a con of a man: someone bent on personal aggrandizement to the detriment of his nation and
people: a betrayer of his country to multinationals and world powers (Bamikunle, 2000: 284-
285): “Your practice to donate
This huge (Es)state
To the whiny and lets of multi-nations” (Obafemi, 2001: 46)
52
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.10, June 2013
Like others before him, he becomes a deaf ruler because he cares not for the people. He seeks for
power from the barrel of the gun to suppress the people. For him, just like Habib, “The Time-
bomb ticks away”. Ultimately, he would be unseated by the people through “MASSIVE out-cry”
because if he does not “HAND OVER” (in reference to his handing over power as at then), he
would “Be HANDED OVER” (a negative prophecy that could happen to him through a coup -
military or civilian). Reviewing Obafemi’s poetic anthology, Songs of Hope, Bamikunle (2000:
279) argues that these two poems:
“. . . are about dictators whose polices are responsible for the sorry state of the
nation. The pictorial illustration of the section, which shows an eagle, fangs set,
descending on a hapless chicken is a perfect picture of what they do to their
people.”
Continuing this personality analysis Dasylva (2006), in “Dancing Sigidi in the Rain”, looks at
another past military dictator, Sanni Abacha, in the leadership saddle of Nigerian government.
This poem is a no-holds-barred invective-pouring exposé on this much hated personality in the
Nigerian world. One must understand Dasylva’s allusion to the Yoruba (a Nigerian ethnic group)
reference to Sigidi. The Sigidi is a clay-moulded statue that must not be touched by any type of
water as it would dissolve. Sanni Abacha becomes the Sigidi that must, towards its destruction,
dance in the rain. This leader, as a problem to his country, is egoistic, visionless, myopic and
deaf to the yearnings of his people. The poet asks him to perform a dance of the fool: that which
would destroy him. His government’s power, according to the poet, is derived wrongly as he is a
“Usurper-General” (as he had overthrown his predecessor in a palace coup). Identical with
Ibrahim Babangida, the other dictator, his people’s blood defames him as, “Human flesh, his
corned beef / Running blood his tombo” (a type of alcoholic drink). His physical structure is a far
cry from a perfect one: “With a pair of tent-pegs; his small frame / Blistered with pride on two
cancerous legs.” He is a diseased man spreading “diseases” and infesting his country. The poet
under-rates his mental acumen, flaying his honesty: he is “a tomboy soldier” (under-developed
even in his profession); “A marionette General” (a fickle-minded person and leader easily
controlled or confused); with “rotund checks” and a “bloated belly” (reflections of all he had
filched from the country). This problematic of a failed and less-than-a-leader dictator is reduced
to rubbles when his weaknesses become glaring to the people. He is, therefore, made to dance
sigidi in the rain of people’s wrath!” In generalizing this extremely condemnatory and
vociferous poem on the majority of Nigerian leadership, Fasan (2012: 157) asserts:
“The poetry is combative and the poet neither gives nor takes any quarter. The
one single emotion that defines many of Dasylva’s songs here is anger with the
Nigerian ruling class forming the target of his satiric butt and vitriol. Biting
expletives and taunts are given free reign . . .”
53
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.10, June 2013
The picture these poems paint is that of a visionless leadership bereft of love for the people it
claims to rule. Over the last fifty-sixty years that the Nigerian state had been dumped unto its
laps, the leadership class had continuously ridden roughshod over the people. Leaders, one after
the other, had tried to better the others in the manners of looting the national treasury and the
amount to pilfer from it. It had also been one failed policy after the other. These poems see the
leadership cadre as incapable of ruling the country: it must gear up or be jettisoned. The
concluding result to all the leadership personalities examined in the poems prophesies this.
In condemning but recommending a total change of the Nigerian leadership stratum, the poets
examine another political space unlimited to personalities. The entire political class is put under
the microscope but epitomized as a betrayer of the people and the nation. Aiyejina’s (Solanke
2005) “And so it came to pass . . .” is a full indictment of the Federal, State and even the local
(governments’) leadership as operated in the country. Apart from the “one Saviour” who died
(could this tentatively be regarded as a former military head-of-state, Muritala Muhammed
(1975-1976), who instilled a temporary sensibility into governance but was killed in a failed
putsch?), all others after him were “armed with party programmes” and went “cascading down
our rivers of hope; / poised for the poisoning of our Atlantic reservoir”. These are politicians
(ironically “armed” with manifestoes) and military leaderships (one of which created the political
jingoism of ‘a little to the left and a little to the right’; this same military leadership annulled a
democratically and freely conducted election that it oversaw).
The poem, “And so it came to pass . . .”, advocates that the people close ranks if they are to
attain any level of comradeship and revolution as amongst them are “the foxes in the family”. In
an allusion to the biblical Jesus / Judas’ case of betrayal, these “crabs” and “ducks”, who have
turned shameless, need only to have their financial requests met either in local and foreign
exchange (naira, pounds, dollars and others) before betraying their people: Judas’ was the Jewish
“thirty pieces of silver”. At every political level, the people see these betrayers voted into
government by them on a party insignia abandon that party for personal reasons (without
consultations with their constituencies). Again, there are politicians who turn the other cheek,
giving lame reasons when their constituencies are cheated out of their rights; their hands and
pockets would have been ‘grease’ and ‘lined’.
Aiyejina’s poem is bleak and dark; there is no future hope for the people. There is a
contradistinction as these leaders-“saviours gave us a gift of tragedy / for which we are too
dumb-struck to find a melody”. In their abandonment, the people continued with their personal
and group struggles, hoping for survival, separated from their leaders. They had expected their
communal and individual struggles to move “. . . towards harvest-circle around whose fire we
would have exchanged happy tales of toil” (Solanke, 2005: 11) but to their shock, what they got
was “an orgy of furious flames”. This poet warns that the Nigerian nation is one indivisible
whole encompassing the led and the leadership: one might not achieve without the other.
54
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.10, June 2013
Perceiving the people will suffer the more, Aiyejina (Solanke 2005) advocates that they close
rank and if possible, refuse going the wrong direction if and when led by visionless and inept
leadership. Positing that the poem utilizes simple, direct language infused with imagery and
symbolisms, Solanke (2005: 14) surmises:
“The tone on the other hand is condemnatory. It sees nothing good in how
the people were thrown to the dogs while the leaders took care of
themselves. It condemns the selfish and arrogant attitudes of the politically
and economically corrupt leaders.”
This is the same general drab mood of Solanke’s 1999 International Library of Poetry’s Editor’s
Choice Award winning poem, “We are”. The poet, like Aiyejina, condemns the people and their
leaders seeing nothing much in their collective life:
“Our lives
a laughter in the eye of a fish
a spark within the world within” (Solanke 2008)
The poet sees a depressing future for the country and its people. It avers that all achievements
can come to a naught if there is no direction and unity, especially among the leaders. For him,
“we are a star spangled reaching for nothing a boxer slugging for all” (Solanke 2008).
The imagery of negativity and symbolism of lack of focus and noise are prevalent. This is an
epitome of what operates in the country at all levels: people throwing up their hands in futility as
the country is made to stagnate (there is more noise than progressive action).
“The hooting of the train
in the dark
the unseeing bat
in the light” (Solanke 2008)
The light and hope in Solanke’s (2008) poem is envisaged in the last two lines “All is in all / is in
all”. Like Aiyejina (Solanke 2005), he advocates that the country and its populace stand as one in
the face of all travails. Just like in J. P Clark’s poem, “The Casualties” (Solanke, 2005: 16), the
leaders must begin “to see the face from the crowd” while the led should understand
55
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.10, June 2013
“We fall
All casualties of the war,
Because we cannot hear each other speak /
Because whether we know or
Do not know the extent of wrong on all sides /
We are all casualties.”
Solutions by Humans and Divines
In condemning the abysmal national situation engendered by the leadership, especially, and by
the people, most Nigerian poets also proffer solutions. It is not a case of writing for writing sake.
Documenting the poet as a historian and a provider of solutions, Onwudinjo (1991: 63) claims:
“…the poet represents these experiences through phenimenistic construal
in myth, symbol, legend, imagery, metaphor, music and other figures of
poetry.”
Dasylva (2006) in “Compatriots Arise” utilizes these. In the first instance, the poem is a like
dialogue: a directive to the people, his “Compatriots”, who he encourages to “arise” and “arrest”
“Obai’s enthralled dignity /
These meadows with predator’s crown /
This holiness their pilgrims feign /
This siren of frightening convoys in daylight /
The “Area Boys” in power . . .” (Dasylva, 2006: 54)
“Obai”, for him, is the raped mythical country, a representation of Nigeria. In this expletive-
filled poem, Dasylva labels Nigerian leadership in extremely negative nomenclature: “area
boys”, “teddy wolves”, “gamblers’ congress”, “looters”, “bandits”, “bastards” and “vagabonds”.
These are lost leaders who have commercialized religion, monetized politics and looted the
national treasury throwing all morality to the wind. Throughout the poem, which records the
leaders’ misdemeanours and high treasonable betrayals, Dasylva advocates just one solution:
“arrest”. This arrest can be through different avenues and forms: “hollering”, going up in arms
and upturning the corrupt leadership from its position. The people must stand and work for a
situation and time when “we insist: patriotic and purposeful leadership / Must pilot to the
Promised Land this colossal Stateship.” For him, the state can be rescued but the people must act
first, fast and “arrest” the leadership from all its negative frivolities.
56
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.10, June 2013
Ojaide (1989), a trado-African / Nigerian poet to the core, in “Future Gods”, extends a hand of
fellowship to the supernatural and the divines. He calls on Nigerian / African gods, Ogidigbo,
Ogiso, Essi, Shaka, and the other deities to come to Nigeria / Africa’s aid. These dead warriors
and deities are asked to
“. . . rise
and with your steel
go on fresh exploits.” (Ojaide, 1989: 52)
They are no longer to destroy their people but to encourage, arm and aid them in throwing off
centuries of different types of limiting shackles: political, psychological, physical,
environmental, spiritual, cultural, religious and sociological. The gods are encouraged to
surmount ethnic, geographical and religious biases and borders. They are to seek an egalitarian
pan-Africanist environment as the people “have had enough of cannibals, emperors and
generals”. Ojaide (1989) eulogises these gods. Drawing upon their past actions, he admonishes:
“Let who strangled lions in their dens / wrest from our destiny our hidden blessing”. Besong
(2006: 120) alludes to this extra-ordinary solution Ojaide (1989) suggests as also reflected in
some of his other poems when he writes:
“Ojaide has largely been pre-occupied in The Fate of Vultures and Other
Poems with objectifying the Nigerian and continental reality with an
underlying revolutionary compass. He demonstrates a poetic sensibility that
defies the original formative intention in its restless concourse of poetic
ambience. The perspective from which he creates is determined by his vision
of the world since works of modern African Literature as thumbprints of
history are often living testimonies of their period.”
And Ojaide curses any god or goddess that fails to help his or her people. If the people worship a
god, then they deserve a hand of help from the god for without a people, a god will die:
“Shame on gods who look on, bemused
as lighting strikes their devotees
in their own groves.” (Ojaide, 1989: 52)
57
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.10, June 2013
There was a time for humans, another for the gods: it is now time for co-operation between the
two - a human-divine cleansing of societal negativities of either the led or the leadership. This
type of revolutionary reaction is described by Besong (2006: 122):
“There is a clamour for revolutionary transformation of society and the
abandonment of the prebendal mode of ontology since the masses and their
leaders are projected as the real makers of history.”
Reassurances of Future Prospects and the Extraneous
Like Affiah (2012: 288) asserts, this paper also states categorically, in line with these Nigerian
poets, that the fate of the people lies in their own hands. Nobody will help them except they
decide, like the poets encouraged, liberating themselves and their country from governmental,
religious and sociological limitations. Nigerian poets opine that the future is bright and
achievable. Their encouragements are not limited to this as they indicate the ways and manners
of getting to the summit. Bamikunle (1991: 75) accentuates this idea in a collective review of
what Nigerian poets, through their works, denote and can achieve for the country:
“Not only does the issue of the artist’s importance to society often come up
in their polemical works, the latest example being Niyi Osundare’s The
Writer as Righter, but the nature of this obligation has become a constant
feature of the arts, particularly in poetry. From Okigbo’s Labyrinths,
Soyinka’s A Shuttle in the Crypt, Ofeimum’s The Poet Lied, Osundare’s A
Nib in the Pond and Village Voices to Ojaide’s Labyrinths of the Delta, the
theme of how artists have tried to reform their societies and how they can, is
a constant pre-occupation.”
In the poem, “We Must Learn Again To Fly”, Ofeimum (Solanke 2005) encourages the Nigerian
populace that despite all that must have happened when “Some wounds cut so deep . . .”; “Some
hunger grow so steep / it cuts out the sun”; “danger comes / bringing the sky low / lower than a
stoop, / till our hair becomes cumulus / fathering dusk and clipping eager wings”, they “must
learn again to fly”. In this poem, ‘we’, which is a repeated pronominal refrain, is in a sense a
collective. It encompasses the people and the various levels of leadership. In stating the national
problems, Ofeimum (Solanke 2005) sees the citizenry as having collectively undergone the
various travails. To surmount these limitations, the poet opines that collectively the people must
not “forget how to fly” and “how to awaken.” It is in relearning these extremely important
survival tactics that the people and the country can move forward as they become skilled at
overcoming travails, (personal, group and national). The assertion is, “Yet we must learn again to
fly.” 58
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.10, June 2013
Building on this theme, the same Ofeimum (Soyinka 1975) in “Resolve...”, a nine-line poem,
encourages the nation to make up its mind to forgive itself and its different recalcitrant and
betraying parts humans or otherwise. In this might come forgiveness of wrongs done and the
healing of the national psyche. According to the poet, forgiveness should be sought from all
those that were wrongful treated, tortured, maimed, imprisoned or killed:
“To placate those the night surprised in their noons;
those we loaded with lead;
pushed to dungeons and makeshift graves;
to absolve our irretrievable selves” (Soyinka, 1975: 125)
According to Ofeimum (Soyinka 1975), the country need not wallow in self-pity and
recriminations adjudging and apportioning blames: “we need no mourners in our stride, / no
remorse, no tears.” The country and her people must stand fast and be focused. Minds must be
made up never to allow the sorts of people, situations and circumstances that, in the first
instance, propelled the country to the negativities of the past. These people, situations and
circumstances must never be allowed into governing and controlling positions again. He
advocates one solution and one encouragement: “Only this: Resolve / that the locust shall never
again visit our farmsteads.”
The last two poems in this paper are by Ojaide (1989). We see them as extraneous because the
recommendations therein are out of the general problematics. They touch the very life of the
people and are the fabrics with which a country need be built with. The Nigerian nation lacks
these types of balm and building blocks. Chiefly, the Nigerian wants to gain from the country
without putting back. Ojaide advises against this: he advocates that the country must be loved not
just for its geographical name and border limitations but for all it entails. In “For my love”, the
poet “sings” for Nigeria, his “love”. According to him, countries like France and Cuba had their
people, “Bastille folks” (in reference to the start of the French Revolution in 1789 when the
Bastille prison-fortress was stormed), and leaders, “Castro” (in reference to the former Cuban
communist president, Fidel Castro) shake “off the incubuses on their backs”. He enlists the
people to make the change now as “Here is the hour”. For him, everybody is needed and capable:
all hands must be on the deck - “not transference of duty to those / worse-equipped than us in
time to work up the wonder”. He envisages and, therefore, encourages all to work towards that
one day when things will out well and the people will be satisfied with on-goings in the country:
“I sing of the moment with its own warriors angered / by a million abuses of freedom, of human
love; / I sing of this day with its arsenal of a common will” (Ojaide, 1989: 9).
59
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.10, June 2013
The last poem, “No prescription cures a country nobody loves”, illustrates the main thrust of this
paper. Ojaide (1989) itemizes acts of valour, love, care and patriotism exhibited by individuals:
“a nameless schoolgirl from Ojojo, Warri / surrender her recess-rice coin to a beggar”, “driver
who rescues his van from a treacherous puddle, / then stops to plant there a red flag”. These acts
create “fellowship that deserves universal membership / this rarity gladdens the heart”. Ojaide
(1989) advocates the universality of humankind: patriotism of the self-in-all-others in a multi-
cultural, multi-tribal and multi-religious country like Nigeria. The citizens should love their
country and show it because no country will develop, if it is not loved by its people: it must be
cared for and “proudly loves [sic] as an inseparable flesh”. Writing in a paper titled “Exile, Exilic
Consciousness and the Patriotic Imagination in Tanure Ojaide’s Poetry”, Tsaaior (2011: 103)
postulates that a Nigerian or any human should be comfortable to live anywhere in Nigeria or in
any part of the world (whether on exile or in free will): “In Ojaide’s poetic imagination,
therefore, home is exile and exile home hence it no longer matters where you live”.
In this fullness of living and loving wherever one is, Ojaide (1989), like the other reviewed
poets, suggests the following virtues be present in the lives and actions of all humans, Nigerians
especially: kindness, co-operation, unity, oneness, care, thoughtfulness, “universal membership”,
and fellowship. The resolve must always be not to allow the negative to control the nation and its
nationals but if this happens, then it must be ousted - either from the leadership or the led.
Conclusion
Nigerian poets, across a span of some fifty to sixty years of the life of the nation, have served as
recorders, censures of wrong doings and advocates of change, especially in the appalling
situations and circumstances the country has found itself. This paper has shown that the
country’s various levels of leadership have not done well with her. The onus to call the leaders
and the people to order has partly fallen on creative writers and the artistes, especially the poets.
In all the poems examined in this paper, the country - the led and the leaders - has been
encouraged to retrace wrong steps taken since independence. This retraction should be without
rancour and recriminations. According to the poets, the nation should make up its mind to forgo
the past and construct the future on better and positive formative and building blocks. The future
can be bright should their identified short comings be considered for introspective analyses to
reclaim the lost goodness of the Nigerian National status.
60
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.10, June 2013
Works Cited
Aboh, R. (2012) “Modality as a Discourse Strategy in New Nigerian Poetry”. In the Journal of
Nigeria Studies. Vol. 1. No 2, Fall 2012 p.p. 1-18.
Affiah, U. (2012) “Protest, Resistance and Activism in the Drama of Osonye Tess Onwueme.” In
the American Journal of Social Issues and Humanities. Vol. 2. (5) Sept 2012 p.p. 284-93.
Aiyejina, F. (1998) “Recent Nigerian Poetry in English: An Alter-native Tradition.” In the
Perspective on Nigerian Literature 1700 to the Present. Ed. Yemi Ogunbiyi. Lagos:
Guardian Books (Nig.) Ltd. 1998 p.p. 112-28.
Bamikunle, A. (1991) “Literature as a Historical Process: A Study of Ojaide’s Labyrinths of the
Delta.” In the African Literature and African Historical Experience. Calabar Studies in
African Literature. Eds. C Ikonne, E Okon and P Onwudinjo. Nigeria: Heinemann
Educational Books. 1991 p.p. 72-82.
__________ . (2000) “Olu Obafemi’s Songs of Hope: A Review Essay.” In the Larger Than His
Frame: Critical Studies and Reflections on Olu Obafemi. Duro Oni and Sunday Enessi
Ododo. Lagos: Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization. 2000 p.p. 270-85.
Besong, B. (2006) “Toothsome Pearls of Rogue Daemons: Tanure Ojaide’s The Fate of Vultures
and Other Poems.” In the Ibadan Journal of English Studies. Ed. Ademola O Dasylva.
Ibadan: Department of English, University of Ibadan. Vol. 3. 2006 p.p. 118-34.
Dasylva, A. O (2006) Songs of Odamolugbe. Ibadan: Kraft Books Limited.
Egya, S. (2011) “Art and Outrage: A Critical Survey of Recent Nigerian Poetry in English.” In
the Researches in African Literature. 2011 p.p. 49-67.
Fasan, R. O. (2012) “The Alter/Native Songs of Odamolugbe.” In the Critical Perspectives On
Language, Literature and Communication Studies: Festschrift in Honour of Siyan
Oyeweso. Eds. E. T Babalola and I Azeez. Nigeria: Obafemi Awolowo University Press.
2012 p.p. 153-60.
Obafemi, O. (2001) Songs of Hope. Ilorin: Haytee Press and Publishing.
Ojaide, T. (1989) The Endless Song. Lagos: Malthouse Press Limited.
61
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.10, June 2013
Onwudinjo, Peter. (1991) “The Poet as a Historian: A Study of T.C. Nwosu’s “Sirens of the
Spirit.” In the African Literature and African Historical Experience. Calabar Studies in
African Literature. Eds. C Ikonn, E Oko and P Onwudinjo. Nigeria: Heinemann
Educational Books. 1991 p.p. 63-72.
Solanke, S. O. (2005) 28 Poetic Voices. Oyo: Blue Grass Ventures.
___________. (2008) “we are”. 19 March 2008. In the www.africanwriter.com/moo-poems-by-
stephen-oladele-solanke/. www.africanwriter.com. accessed 17 March 2013.
Soyinka, W, ed. (1975) Poems of Black Africa. Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books.
Tsaaior, J. T. (2011) “Exile, Exilic Consciousness and the Poetic Imagination in Tanure Ojaide’s
Poetry.” In the Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde 48(1). 2011 p.p. 98-109.
IndexMundi. (2013) Nigeria Life Expectancy at Birth.
www.indexmundi.com>Factbook>Countries>Nigeria>Demographics. (accessed 10 April
2013).
62
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.10, June 2013
... This is to say that Ushie's poetry examines the recurring and diseased stages of Nigerian politics, economy, and society at large. Solanke (2013) also places Ushie among contemporary Nigerian poets like Femi Oyebode, Nnimmo Bassey, Uche Nduka, Usman Shehu and Ademola Dasylva. He likens the themes and techniques of their poetry as part of the span of discourse that featured among preceding generations of Nigerian poets like J. P Clark, Wole Soyinka, Odia Ofeimun and Tanure Ojaide (p.2). ...
Article
Full-text available
The influence of socio-political and economic realities continues to flock the literary sphere of Nigerian literature. In the genre of poetry, a park of social and political realities have always been the burden of early poets like Wole Soyinka, Tanure Ojaide, Niyi Osundare, Odia Ofeimun, Ezenwa Ohaeto, J.P Clark, Christopher Okigbo, among others, all in the attempt to portray the disillusioned status quo of the country as a result of bad governance. In a similar vein, contemporary poets like Musa Idris, Peter Onwundinjo, G‘Ebinyo Ogbowei, Kalu Uka, Gbemisola Adeoti, Ogaga Ifowodo, among others, alongside the early poets still feature the stark and dark, diseased and ill circumstances that keep the minds of Nigerians disillusioned. However, this paper investigates the satirical strategies and forms (Horatian and Juvenalian) in Joe Ushie‘s Popular Stand and Rome Aboh‘s A Torrent of Terror. Using New Historicism as a theoretical framework, the analysis attempts to show how the various types of satire and sub-satirical devices are used to question regurgitating socio-political aches in recent times. Furthermore, Ushie and Aboh are substantiated as satirists as their use of pun, ridicule, sarcasm, farce, innuendo, irony, travesty and other satirical tools help the quest for change amidst the prevailing upheavals hindering national growth and development in Nigeria.
Article
Full-text available
The Nigerian political milieu has, for more than five decades since independence, been bedevilled by adventurist civilian and military leaders, coups d'état, and a seemingly 'docile' citizenry (who receive the 'fallout' of bad governance). This political landscape saw a handful of democratic governments (two overthrown by putsch). These leadership swaps have resulted in no major changes in the socio-political and economic lives of the led. In his poem collection Songs of Odamolugbe, Ademola Dasylva explores imagery, realistic symbolism, and revolutionary poetry to paint, recall, and re-live various past and present debilitating national issues engendered by groups and personalities. This essay draws on Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical theory of the unconscious. Freud distinguishes between psychoanalysis as i) a method for investigating unconscious mental processes and ii) a method for treating neurotic disorders. There is the subtle examination of the mental workings of the leadership and the led in and towards governance. This essay seeks to explore how Dasylva exposes leaders' mental flaws, egoistic behaviour, and wrongly placed 'patriotism' and seeks redeeming positives in his poetry of social protest and resistance. The poetry rejects the cerebral, laissez-faire 'sit-down-look' attitude of the people, encouraging instead a different type of analytical and active 'patriotism' imbued with the fresh spirit of 'Naija'. The essay affirms that there should be full and positive participation in the polity and development of the country by both the leaders and the led.
Article
Full-text available
As a thematic trajectory, exile constitutes a visible presence in the Nigerian poetic afflatus and imagination. This is sometimes not adequately or sufficiently acknowledged. Increasingly, however, exile and exilic consciousness have continued to occupy a contested and contestable site in literature especially Nigerian poetry. This is essentially because of the multiple and shifting networks of significations that undergird the very constitution and definition of home, exile and the exiled. While exile could signify absence from one's homeland and hence register an erasure of physical presence from a particular landscape, other interpretive grids that negotiate exile refract it as a spiritual and psychological state that does not necessarily translate to physical absence from home. The essay contends that both modes of epistemology and hermeneutic insights are tenable. Its framing and defining concern is the negotiation of the theme of exile in Nigerian poetry especially the poetry of Tanure Ojaide. The paper's sustained argument is that Ojaide's poetic imagination and sensibility have generously benefited from the trope of exile which has been conditioned by the reality of living and working away from home in the United States of America even as the poet himself problematises this reality with his frequent visits home and the construction of a hybrid identity as a cosmopolitan citizen of the world. The paper uses Ojaide's When It No Longer Matters Where You Live as a paradigm of textual representation to underscore the exilic consciousness in Nigerian poetry. It concludes that Ojaide's volume contributes significantly to the work on the theme of exile in world literature and reflexively foregrounds the currency of the theme of exile in Nigerian poetry and, indeed, literature.
Article
: In 1988, the anthology Voices from the Fringe: an ANA Anthology of New Nigerian Poetry edited by Harry Garuba introduced a crop of new Nigerian poets. Each of the poets featured was new in the sense that he/she had not previously published any collection. It was a period of military oppression in Nigeria. Some of the new poets have been writing, and have become considerably known on the Nigerian literary scene today. This essay is an attempt to map out their artistic endeavors, the tradition from which they emerge, the social context of their poetry, and their collective contribution to the discourse of nationhood in Nigeria during the struggles to unseat military despotism. The essay contends that although this “new” poetry is not fundamentally different from the poetry that emerged in the post-independence era in Nigeria, it has its peculiar features as an artistic response to a particular period of anomie.
Toothsome Pearls of Rogue Daemons: Tanure Ojaide's The Fate of Vultures and Other Poems
  • B Besong
Besong, B. (2006) "Toothsome Pearls of Rogue Daemons: Tanure Ojaide's The Fate of Vultures and Other Poems." In the Ibadan Journal of English Studies. Ed. Ademola O Dasylva. Ibadan: Department of English, University of Ibadan. Vol. 3. 2006 p.p. 118-34.
Literature as a Historical Process: A Study of Ojaide's Labyrinths of the Delta In the African Literature and African Historical Experience. Calabar Studies in African Literature Nigeria: Heinemann Educational Books
  • A Bamikunle
  • P Okon
  • Onwudinjo
Bamikunle, A. (1991) " Literature as a Historical Process: A Study of Ojaide's Labyrinths of the Delta. " In the African Literature and African Historical Experience. Calabar Studies in African Literature. Eds. C Ikonne, E Okon and P Onwudinjo. Nigeria: Heinemann Educational Books. 1991 p.p. 72-82.
Recent Nigerian Poetry in English: An Alter-native Tradition
  • F Aiyejina
Aiyejina, F. (1998) "Recent Nigerian Poetry in English: An Alter-native Tradition." In the Perspective on Nigerian Literature 1700 to the Present. Ed. Yemi Ogunbiyi. Lagos: Guardian Books (Nig.) Ltd. 1998 p.p. 112-28.
Modality as a Discourse Strategy in New Nigerian Poetry
  • R Aboh
Aboh, R. (2012) "Modality as a Discourse Strategy in New Nigerian Poetry". In the Journal of Nigeria Studies. Vol. 1. No 2, Fall 2012 p.p. 1-18.
Literature and Communication Studies: Festschrift in Honour of Siyan Oyeweso
  • R O Fasan
Fasan, R. O. (2012) "The Alter/Native Songs of Odamolugbe." In the Critical Perspectives On Language, Literature and Communication Studies: Festschrift in Honour of Siyan Oyeweso. Eds. E. T Babalola and I Azeez. Nigeria: Obafemi Awolowo University Press. 2012 p.p. 153-60.
(2013) Nigeria Life Expectancy at
  • Indexmundi
IndexMundi. (2013) Nigeria Life Expectancy at Birth. www.indexmundi.com>Factbook>Countries>Nigeria>Demographics. (accessed 10 April 2013).