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Satirical Forms and Strategies in Joe Ushie's Popular Stand and Rome Aboh's A Torrent of Terror



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.
Abraka Humanities Review
Volume 9: No.1 2019, pp 137-152
Satirical Forms and Strategies
Popular Stand
Torrent of Terror
Samuel Edung Ukeme &
Mathias Iroro Orhero
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 Rom e 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.
Keywords: Satire, Joe Ushie, Rome Aboh, Nigerian Poetry
This paper attempts an examination of the satirical elements in the poetry
of Joe Ushie and Rome Aboh. Some critics have maintained that Joe
Ushie‘s poetry fall within the same tradition of other Niger-Delta poets in
presenting or capturing the pessimistic notion of the politics, economy
and sociology of the South South region of Nigeria. On the other hand,
Rome Aboh‘s poetry is yet to receive salient scholarly attention. This
study, thus, examines satirical themes and devices in Joe Ushie‘s Popular
Stand and Rome Aboh‘s A Torrent of Terror. It verifies the idea that Ushie
and Aboh‘s poetry contain various satirical elements. Their recourse to
various satirical forms questions the scatological status quo of
contemporary Nigerian politics, economy, and sociology and this projects
both poets as contemporary voices and counterparts in the quest to
create awareness about certain ills and failings in Nigeria. Thus, the
various satirical forms utilised are not out of place as this paper seeks to
assert that the use of direct and indirect satirical forms give value to the
poetry of Ushie and Aboh as the poems in Popular Stand and Other Poems
and A Torrent of Terror respectively will be used to show. The paper also
regards Ushie‘s and Aboh‘s poetic rendition as vital in assessing the
contemporary Nigerian situation.
Born in Bendi, Cross River State, Nigeria; Joe Ushie is a poet
whose poetry has been widely studied. He is known for his
representation of socio-political, ecological, cultural and economic issues
in his poetry. Amoa h and Lillet (2007) reiterate the fact that Ushies
poetry is an obliterature that reacts to contemporary social, political, and
personal experience (p.143). Thus, Ushies poetry generally interrogates
power and corruption in Africa. Ushie has written several poetry
collections, including Popular Stand and Other Poems (1992), Lamb at the
Shrine (1995), A Reign of Locusts (2007), Eclipse in Rwanda (1998), Hill Songs
(2000) and Yawns and Belches (2018).
Rome Aboh hails from Obudu in Cross River State, Nigeria. He
currently lectures at the University of Uyo. He holds an M.A and a Ph.D
degree from the University of Ibadan (Hanson 6). Besides A Torrent of
Terror (2014), he has also published a novel, Above the Rubble (2015), and
several articles of his have appeared in reputable journals locally and
The poetry of Ushie and Aboh have received some scholarly
attention. On the poetry of Joe Ushie, Adebiyi (2015) identifies Joe Ushie
as a contemporary voice in Nigerian poetry and further categorises him
and other emerging poets like Remi Raji, Ogaga Ifowodo, and others as
the third generation poets in the history of Nigerian poetry (p.27). He
says that Ushie, like other third generation poets, is socially committed
and the language of his poetry dwells on the themes of political
leadership, mis-governance and dictatorship (p.28). Adebiyi also asserts
that the technique of Ushie‘s poetry is highly allusive and smeared with
symbols and images of rhetoric (p.30). He further submits that ―For
Ushie; animals become the metaphoric framework for exposing the
exploitative and destructive proclivity of Nigerian leaders‖ (p.31).
On the same note, Kehinde (2008) claims that Ushie‘s poetry
carries the philosophical outlook of the Marxist ideology especially from
African historical, economic, and social perspectives (p.335). Kehinde
continues by suggesting that Ushie‘s techniques are ironic, whimsical, and
deporting by poking sophisticated turn (p.36). Thus, to Kehinde, Ushie‘s
poetry employs copious diction used in referring to Nigeria in derogatory
terms and as sub-standard. Kehinde engages one of Ushie‘s poem, ―Rites
of Passage‖, and to him, Ushie uses this poem to investigate t he chaotic
rites of passage in Nigeria (p.335). 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). Solanke submits that Ushie and his
other contemporaries are part of the old war-horses (p.3). Etiowo notes
that earliest and present poets in Nigeria including contemporaries like
Ushie majorly waged the poetic war against political failure and betrayal
in the country (2014, p.133); and concludes that the language used is
aggressive and revolutionary (p.133).
Still on the style of Ushie‘s poetry, Ushie (2005) declares that
Ushie‘s poetry is filled with metaphorical devices which the poet uses to
present the ―unfavourable, negative and destructive activities which poses
threat to the environment‖ (p.1327). For Ushie (2005), Ushie is
concerned about the ecological status of his land and this makes his work
Aboh‘s opinion on Ushie‘s poetry is hinged on the style of
language, or ―semantic map‖ (2009, p.6). In other words, the poet‘s word
metaphor depicts the idea of the socio-political attack inherent in the
poetry of Ushie. Thus, according to Aboh, ―carefully selected diction and
other linguistic apparatus are central to exploring and relating meaning in
the works of Ushie‖ (pp.6-7).
On the other hand, Aboh‘s A Torrent of Terror has received little or
no critical attention. Drawing from this, this study attempts to expand
and contribute to scholarship on his work. In the meantime, Hanson‘s
impression is that Rome Aboh‘s A Torrent of Terror makes ample use of
linguistic devices with obvious lexical and semantic implications and that
through the ―various use of lexical orations and semantic vehicle, A
Torrent of Terror communicates Nigeria‘s socio-political and economic
experience‖ (2015, p.14). Thus, to Hanson, the special/stylistic diction
used in the poems is useful and central to the meaning of the poems and
by extension relates to the themes discussed (p.15). On the relevance of
the thematic preoccupation raised in the collection - A Torrent of Terror,
Hanson submits thus: ―Aboh‘s lexical choice is informed by the socio-
political situation in Nigeria and the raging trauma that is gradually
encompassing the world as he depicts‖ (p.24).
It can be seen from the preceding that Ushie is a poet that has
received a lot of critical attention while Aboh is also making his mark as a
young poet in Nigeria. Ushie‘s poetry has evolved over the years to cover
a variety of themes and techniques. However, not much has been done
about anchoring it on the subgenre of satire. This paper attempts to
breach that gap in scholarship of these poets.
New Historicism is the critical approach adopted to unravel some
of the themes and techniques projected through the use of satirical forms
and expressions in Ushie‘s and Aboh‘s poetry collections. By extension,
we will show the validity and appropriateness of the use of satirical
devices to the discourse of the themes of socio-political and economic
upheaval in modern Nigeria.
New Historicism originated in America and the term was coined
by Stephen Greenblatt in 1882 (Kar, 1995, p.75). From the early 1980s,
the theory has been further accepted as a mode of literary study as
developed and influenced by other proponents like Clifford Geertz,
Louis Montrose, Mikhail Bakhtin and Louis Althusser in the post-
structural, dialogic, deconstructive and Marxist theory of criticism
(Abrams and Harpham, 2009, p.219).
The main tenet of New Historicism is that a text attends primarily to the
historical and cultural manifestations of its production, its meaning, its
effect and of its later critical interpretations and evaluations (Abrams and
Harpham, 2009, p.218). In applying New Historicism as a critical theory,
the text; both in form and content, is conceived as a discourse or verbal
formations and ideological products of historical conditions specific to
an era. That is, what New Historicists refer to as representations (Abrams
and Harpham, 2009, p.219). This is to say that the interpretation and
understanding of a text is forged between the viewer (reader) and the
object (literary work), between the past and the present, between the
textuality and historicity within the tools of negotiation, exchange and
circulation (Lai, 2006, p.13).
Satire as a Literary Device
The word satire is gotten from the Latin word satira. It is used in
diminishing or derogating a subject by making it ridiculous and evoking
toward its attitudes of amusement, contempt, scorn or indignation
(Abrams and Harpham, 2009, p.320). There are arguably two types or
broad divisions of satire - formal satire or direct satire and indirect satire
or informal satire.
Formal or direct satire addresses the reader of a work or a
character within the work itself. Direct satire speaks in the first person
pronoun ―I‖ (Abrams & Harpham, 2009, p.320). Direct satire is of two
major types: Horatian and Juvenalian satire. Horatian satire, named after
the great Greek poet, Horace, deals with topical subject matters
presented in a gentle, light-hearted and ironical manner, outlining a
personae‘s folly and shortcomings. Horatian satire is very popular with
the poetry genre. Alexander Pope‘s Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot (1735) is a
typical example of Horatian satire.
Juvenalian satire on the other hand is a type of satire that is bitter,
angry and attacks public subject matters (Abrams & Harpham, 2009,
p.321). This type of direct satire utilises a public style of utterance to
evoke contempt, moral indignation, and aberration (Quintero, 2007, p.7).
Popular Juvenalian satire includes Samuel Johnson‘s London (1738).
Indirect satire also known as Menippean or Varronian satire is a
common feature in prose fiction genre. It is a type of satire that uses
characters as the object of satire due to their characterization in a prose
work (Abrams & Harpham, 2009, p.321). An example of popular indirect
satirical work is John Dryden‘s ―Absalom and Achitophel‖.
Satirical Elements in Joe U
Popular Stand
Joe Ushie's Popular Stand (2005) makes copious use of diction that is
highly satirical on the surface. The poem, ―The One-man Show‖ is an
example of the Juvenalian satire. From the title ―The One-man show‖,
the poet is disgusted at the ruling mechanism of the military whose
dictatorial mode of leadership and system of governance is presented as
rigid and inconsiderate. The poem opens thus:
The self-blindfolded
he sees no footprints as
he treads that ancient path
leading to that blind allay
that has mangled millions.
He sees no statistics of the
unhappy ghost of those ants
battered by his brutal boots
souls defiled by soles.
He frolics with the tears
of both man and god
The lines above assess the modus operandi of the military personnel and
their conducts. Thus, the main character in the poem is synonymous with
the ruling culture and arsenals of military leaders like Babangida and
Abacha in the early 1990s as they manhandled and forcefully subjected
individuals who attempted to criticise them. The poet ascribes the
―death‖, ―torture‖, ―tears‖, and ―agony‖ of the Nigerian citizens to be as
a result of the ―brutal boots‖, ―frolics‖ and ―daft‖ nature of the military
rule. To Ushie, the military and their mode of operation constitute the
absurd and they are highly animalistic. The poem employs burlesque in
the title ―The one man show‖ as the military ruling system, which is a
one-man show, does not conform to the democratic structure of the
country. Therefore, the military and their system of governance remain
an eyesore, horror and mess to the growth and development of Nigerian
Ushie lampoons and makes a caricature of the political
institution, ruling and bourgeoisie class of the Nigerian society. The
poem, which is very typical of the contents of Juvenalian satire, attacks
the ills, upheavals and trajectory of ordeals meted on the citizens due to
the clear disparity in social class and status. In ―Our Hero‖, Ushie,
through farce, presents a persona that is an anti-hero of the people due
to the selfishly accumulated material wealth and extravagant life. But he is
sarcastically called and hailed as ―Our Hero‖. The poem portrays the
hero thus:
Earth on earth he replies
like a truant child
Building skyscrapers on sand:
Mansions, sand, mansion, sand […]
Those glistering unto - the wisps
Those wonders of the age that buy glee
To be ―safely thus‖, he prepares
For standby an omnivorous concoction
In comfort and death-proof security
The above indicates an indignant undertone of satire through the
exaggerated and extravagant description of the people‘s hero. The poet
scorns at the unequal attainment and possession of material wealth by the
country‘s oligarchs. To the poet, the country‘s political lords who are also
the bourgeoisie class have constituted and engineered poverty, abject
doom, and offer frail hope to Nigerians. The hero‘s acts are akin to the
exploitative traits of the Babangida and Abacha regime known for capital
loots used to ―secure‖ ―unarmed tomorrow‖, ―comfort‖, and to guide
against their ―death‖. Besides the political caricature made by the hero,
the poet also mocks the unrealistic and intangible philosophy and policies
of the military in his allusion to ―Socrates‖. Socrates taught in the Greek
Polis about the philosophy of life and truth was able to educate the Polis
but the poem‘s ―hero‖ is juxtaposed with Socrates because his political
antics breed ―wild yells‖ and ―scars‖ of war. Thus, Ushie identifies the
military regime as being responsible for the social and political culture of
bad leadership in Nigeria.
Another poem, ―Elephant‖, depicts the political institution of the
country. It is first used to symbolise the juicy wealth of the nation and
secondly, the spiffy looking and robust political class. The poem is built
upon a series of paradox thus:
The tenuous Elephant
Your tenure expires
But, from somewhere
I can hear this faint warning echo:
Elephants feed also
Through the above, Ushie presents the nature of leadership using the
image of the ―tenuous elephant‖. Both the leaders and citizens are
vulnerable and can be preyed upon. Thus, for Ushie, it is ridiculous that
life in the country for the leaders and citizens is like a rat race; you eat or
you are eaten.
In the poems ―The Sot‖ and ―Son of the Soil‖, Ushie creates a
persona whose drunkenness and nativity are challenged by the nation‘s
unequal distribution of wealth. The sot is a drunk and represents the
helpless citizens‘ pessimism about the future of the nation he belongs.
The poem describes ―The Sot‖ and his Dutch courage:
Drink drenched like foam in water [...]
Swear to beat up all damned fools jeering
At him as if he were drunk [...]
Announces in contentment that
he has equalled Jesus
three falls and rises enroute to
calvary, Hallelujah
The above lines draw the reader‘s attention to the level of squalor and
abashment of the drunk who seeks solace and ―contentment‖ in his
religious faith in Jesus and thus equates his ―falling‖ and ―rising‖ with the
state of drunkenness. To the poet, the state of drunkenness is an example
of various social habits and moral vices that the helpless citizens have
settled for. ―The Sot‖ justifies himself thus:
Let them build their skyscrapers
in Lagos, London or Lisbon
in Abuja, America or the Atlantics
I build mine here
in my holy tummy my temple, Hallelujah [...]
There is truth in the bottle
The above lines satirically lament the absurdity and ugliness of the
drunk‘s social status that the poet uses to create awareness of his drunken
state. For the poet, the uneven distribution of the national cake in a
country like Nigeria has driven many into indulging in a variety of
immoral acts and social vices just to satisfy themselves.
―By the year 2000‖ and ―Popular Stand‖ stand out as Ushie‘s
most captivating Juvenalian satires in the collection. This is because the
poems reveal the verbal formations (diction) as obvious in the irony of
the poems‘ titles and rhetorical strategies. The two poems bluntly
condemn, ridicule and ignite contempt for the dishonest and destructive
behaviours of political personnel. It also frowns at the unrealistic and
insincere character of politicians and leaders. The poem ―By the year
2000‖ sarcastically opens thus:
As these our demo-
cracies running a relay race
with the gritty men in
rugged metalic uniforms
fails to denote our cries
We invest our hopes
in that miracle year -2000
From the above, the poet uses pun -―demo‖-―cracies‖ to reveal his
amusement at the expectations of the year 2000. The persona is hopeless
due to the military regimes which are represented by ―metallic uniforms‖.
―By the year 2000‖ continues on the note of parody and sarcasm:
Our mother is old [...]
her self-deifying ants
multiply yoked to
collective hara kiri [...]
as we wait the year 2000
to be mothered or murder [...]
By the year 2000
We will feed the world [...]
We will own the world [...]
We will make snakes walk [...]
We will feed
We will climb
We will own
We will move
The above throws mockery at the uncertainties of dashed hopes of the
country‘s citizens of which the poet is one. To the poet, the low class
populace continues to wallow in disillusion, sadness, and aberration.
Thus, the poet remains pessimistic towards change because ―snakes‖ are
still crawling, ―dogs‖ have no ―horns‖ and so, hunger, starvation,
increased violence and all kinds of vices persist. However, the country,
due to corrupt and failed leadership, is prevented from ―climbing the
moon‖. The poem submits the result of the ―cataclysmic artifice‖ and
―myopic forecasts‖ much anticipated by the year 2000 thus:
from Christ to Nostradamus
from the nuclear factory to starring Africans
From disvirgined forests to Aids;
Some thin unfed voice,
hypermetropic, whispers.
―around that miraculous 2000
some miracle will erupt
to ignite eternal bliss‖
The above ironically presents the aftermath of ―forecast‖, great
expectation and foretells the year 2000. For Ushie, the possibility of
political, social and economic change in a country like Nigeria remains
unattainable and every Nigerian dream or aspiration is sure to attain
menopause except a miracle salvages the situation.
While the poem ―By the year 2000‖ draws attention to disloyal
and unpatriotic leadership, the poem, ―Popular stand‖, draws attention to
the diseased state of the politics, social life, and economic culture of
Nigeria. To Ushie, there is a need for a change or total overhaul:
This suffocating popular stand
Breeds oven-hot creeds:
If we harness those faint voices into a shout
If we join those faint fist into a punch
If we collect these tear trickles into a pool
The above shows the irony of intention from a people inhabiting the
―Popular Stand‖ or a ―popular region‖ or ―popular nation‖ said to be the
giant of Africa. For the poet, the ―Popular Stand‖ breeds ―oven-hot
creeds‖ with beliefs, notions and idea of militancy, battle and even war
against the inhibiting institutions of politicians on the corridors of
power. To Ushie, the fate of the Nigerian people and nation can only be
resolved through vengeance and violence. The ―Popular Stand‖
Our cry the gods will echo
Our echoes will shake that hill
Our might will crush that down
Our bid will daze the leopard
Our flood will cleanse the land
Our fate lies here, in our faith
Here at this oven-hot popular stand, not
This section has analysed selected poems from Ushie‘s Popular Stand and
Other Poems. Poems like ―When I Think‖, ―Son of the Soil‖ and ―The
Sotare copious examples of satires that attack social vices, immorality,
and follies that characterise and reflect the germane problems of the
Nigerian nation. While poems like ―Our Hero‖, ―The One Man Show‖,
―By the year 2000‖, ―Elephant‖ and ―Popular Stand‖ all mock political
leaders and the bourgeoisie class who engender disillusionment and
inflict the less privilege in the country with pain, agony, and other sorts
of socio-economic and political upheaval.
A Torrent of Terror
Aboh‘s A Torrent of Terror (2014) is divided into three sections named
―Reflections‖, ―Patterns of Love‖, and ―Patriotism‖. For the purpose of
this paper, poems have been selected only from ―Patriotism‖.
The first poem of the collection ―Ibie‖ exposes the fear and
mental trauma that engulfs the poet due to the ills and failures that
characterise the nation. The poet depicts the ill activities of the political
class who loot and cart away a bulk of the national wealth and then leave
proletariats with little or nothing to survive on. The poet presents his
trepidation thus:
a giant African rat scurrying
For hiding:
a falling
banana trunk
Auguring booting owls,
grief-stricken mewing cats
brutal barking dogs,
another politrickster is born
The above represents the fact that the politicians and political activities
are among the reasons why a country like Nigeria is termed a ―Giant
African Rat‖. It cannot measure with or be compared to other African
countries who have lesser or minimal natural resources to go round
because of the massive corruption in the nation. Thus, for a daily routine
of corrupt practices that occur at ―noon‖, ―night‖ and ―morning‖, it is
inevitable that ―anger‖, ―grief‖ and rage burn in the head of many
hopeful citizens like the poet.
―A Wondering Man‖ is a Horatian satire that appears to be mild
on the surface but attacks the unrealistic and confused system of
government in the country. The poet attests to the fact that federalism as
a system of government has contributed to the elongating the unending
tussle in the different regions of the country:
I wonder what you would do
If the plane you were to board
was to be flown
by an inexperienced federal character
The persona‘s confession and surprise above is tied to his dissatisfaction
with the federal system of government in Nigeria, which has been unable
to neither satisfactorily distribute, manage nor equally distribute the
national wealth. For the poet, situations like these plunge a country into
so many upheavals, turmoil and terror just as reiterated in other poems
like ―Moment of Despair‖, ―Contraption‖ and ―A Torrent of Terror‖.
Hanson (2015, p.24) observes on this note that the use of language is
active and revolutionary, which corresponds with the active effort of
conscious resistance and leached terrorism by the military and its
collaborators demonstrated in their refusal to provide the basic needs of
Nigeria. So, a poem like ―Contraption‖ condemns the unproductive and
unrewarding patriotism of a citizen towards his country due to
unprofitable, ironical and unrealistic benefits. Instead of freedom, the
unstable economy of the country results in ―Contraption‖. The poem
contrasts thus:
We are caught here
In this land we love
with the whole of our hearts
between the ass-kicking militeria
and the web of honey-coated-tongue polithiefians
Going forward is as
difficult as making a U-turn
From the above, the poet ties the reasons behind the unrewarding
patriotism to the highhanded ―ass kicking‖ and deceptive ―honey-coated
tongue of polithiefians‖. For the poet, the retrogressive antics of the
political class have left citizens at ―extreme deliriums‖ which
corroborates with the love (patriotism) for such a country.
―Moment of Despair‖ draws on the irony of peace-making in the
Bakassi peninsula under the President Obasanjo regime between the year
20052008, which today is rumoured to have been a politically arranged
bargain among Nigerian political lords and Cameroon collaborators. The
poem opens thus:
Their unbilical cords uprooted and
dumped at the Hague,
Now Bakassians go as would refugees [...]
and their ghosts like Hamlet‘s
Wonders till on that peninsula
Aboh in the poem ironically concludes thus:
O you peace-bring terrorist [...]
Now we all can attest
to the fullness
of year emptiness,
the magnitude of wickedness
The above lines frown at the hope and aspirations of countrymen thrown
into despair by political and economic opportunists whose bargain and
quest for material wealth is done at the detriment of patriotic
countrymen. Just like in the poem ―A Letter to the MP‖, citizens are left
to inherit ―Matchbox houses‖, sleep on ―bedbugs-infested mats‖, parade
―Eczema-coated skin‖, and ―Breed children with kwashiorkored bellies‖,
―school in dilapidated classrooms‖ and only await ―Balance of equation‖
before the judgment throne.
Aboh reveals the tumultuous failure of the country and his
satirical poems warn against the obliteration inevitably in need of a
miraculous change and reversal of things for the better. His poems also
attempt to rewrite the status quo or image of Nigeria and even Africa at
This paper has analysed the satirical elements in the poetry of Ushie and
Aboh with close reference to their respective poetry collections, Popular
Stand and Other Poems and A Torrent of Terror. It has been shown that both
Ushie‘s and Aboh‘s poetry are projected by copious satirical devices of
which hyperbole, irony, innuendo, sarcasm, farce, travesty, lampoon,
juxtaposition, burlesque, oxymoron, among others, are prominent. Also,
Ushie‘s Popular Stand and Other Poems appears to make use of the Horatian
type of satire to discuss the serious socio-political menace in Nigeria
during the military era of Sani Abacha and Ibrahim Babangida.
On the other hand, Aboh, in his collection, has been able to
assess the political, economic, and socio-cultural status quo of the
country by drawing the reader‘s attention to the fact that Nigerian
citizens are pessimistic due to the realities they are forced to contend
with. So, his use of satire as analysed in his poems is more serious, harsh
and biting.
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Full-text available
In spite of the fact that about thirty years of military rule impacted negatively on various spheres of Nigerian life, this essay argues that it also served as a catalyst for the growth of Nigerian poetry. It contests the critical standpoint that exclusively identifies socially sensitive poetry in Nigeria in the closing decades of the twentieth century with a particular 'generation' of poets and situates the phenomenal growth of Nigerian poetry within this period - which also coincides with the military era - within the flowering of a vibrant civil society and activist writing. It maintains that more poets and tendencies than have been associated with the experience contributed to its making and suggests that this tradition constitutes a major component of the corpus of Nigerian poetry of English expression. In reappraising the growth of Nigerian poetry in the last three decades of the twentieth century, this paper argues that writing against dictatorship - the defining character of this tradition - has enriched Nigerian poetry in more ways than critics have suggested. It correlates developments within the political sphere with corresponding responses in the Nigerian poetic imagination to define the unique character of this major phase in the development of Nigerian poetry.
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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.
This paper analyses selected poems in the poetry collection of Joe Ushie entitled Hill Songs and those of Unimna Angrey's collection entitled Drought (Ubuang). It is an investigation of the linguistic choices that the selected writers have made in order to establish their connections with their environment and the representation of the effects of the negative and unfavourable conduct and destructive activities of man on it (the environment). The paper uses a conflation of three theories- ecofeminism, modification in grammar and conceptual theory of metaphor. In this respect, focus is mainly on the use of lexical items, verses, the imagery and certain literary devices, such as metaphor and simile, that the poets deploy in their works to establish that connection and the attack that the environment, which man is inextricably a part of, has undergone in man's quest for development. The aim is to draw attention to the poetic discourse on the effects of the man's interactions with the environment as expressed by these new poets. The paper concludes that the poets' concern for, and conviction about the symbiosis between man and the environment have constrained the deployment of anthropomorphic and anthropocentric idiom and the style of their poetry.
This paper critically examines post-independence Nigerian literary writers' engagement with the issue of misgovernance in their country. The essay contends that what is grounded in most post-independence Nigerian writings is a bewildering amalgam of socio-political contingences and economic realities which bedevil the country as a result of misgovernance. The constant trope in the writings is the quotidian complexion of affairs defined by monumental incoherence, paradoxes, elephantine socio-political paralysis, corruption, intolerance, ineptitude, political subterfuge, treachery by a decadent political elite, economic strangulation, crippling social morass and moral atrophy. It is also argued that new and old breed politicians, the military, the traditional rulers, the academia, male and female rulers have all failed in their individual stints in the governance of this country. None of them is able to offer the much needed leadership by the post-independence Nigeria. Therefore, the quest for a true political leader for the country, as depicted in post-independence Nigerian literature, has become a near obsession as it is orgiastic.
The SatiristSatirical PurposeProblems of Origin and Definition
Though one of the most powerful disciplines of contemporary literary criticism, New Historicism has faced attacks from various quarters. Accordingly, using Greenblatt's works as examples, I am going to explore the theoretical problems of New Historicism in detail by dividing its development into two stages—the first stage is the "panoptical past: language, self and power" and the second is "go-betweenness: wonder and resonance." The former is trapped a Foucauldian closure-structure of power relations with the politics of cultural despair, whereas the latter has tended to escape from this pessimistic trap with the strategy of "go-betweenness." Facing up to these aspects, rather than presenting a "shopping list" of improvements required for New Historicism, I will explain how New Historicism should be reconciled with the mainstream postmodernism, which is more diverse, affirmative and ethico-political than the formalistic and pessimistic theory advocated by Greenblatt. I will then ex-amine the possibility of a feminist new historicism to show how New Historicism can revitalize its critique, cross its limits and thus reach beyond its traditional domain.
Semantic map and ideology in selected Nigerian poetic discourse
___. (2009). Semantic map and ideology in selected Nigerian poetic discourse. African Journal of History and Culture 1: 6-15.
A glossary of Literary terms
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Abrams, M. H. & Harpham, G. A glossary of Literary terms. Boston: Thomas Wadsworth.
After our obliterature
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Amoah, A. & Millet, M. (2007). After our obliterature. Journal of African Poetry 3: 43-171.