Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Tydskrif vir Letterkunde]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=0041-476X20110001&lang=en vol. 48 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>Editorial - Nigerian literature</b>: <b>triumphs and travails</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100001&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en <![CDATA[<b>Living the myth</b>: <b>revisiting okigbo's art and commitment</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100002&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This is a study of the nature and sources of the persona's quest in Christopher Okigbo's poetry. The protagonist in Okigbo's writing explores the fluid borders between aesthetic and spiritual states, with language and social action as instruments of the self's aspiration towards spiritual and aesthetic fulfillment. Although Okigbo's narration is presented in the form of dramatic ritual, the distance or severance of the material from the poet's own spiritual history is not total, for the historical content eventually intrudes into the writing and reestablishes the authentic autobiography of the poetic self. The historical context, the 1960s, is an age of transition. Okigbo's characterisation of his persona as an actor in a state of personal transition reflects the poet's sensitive immersion in the spirit of his times and establishes Okigbo the poet as perhaps its ideal representative. One of the issues raised in this study is that in spite of the protagonist's recurrent return to the point of passage, there is a relentless drive towards death seen ambiguously as the ultimate goal and state of perfection as well as the perfect form of transition. The central question explored in this study is the roles of poetic diction, the tense politics of the 1960s and the poet's own intense temperament in determining his peculiar choice of resolution to the dilemma at the centre of his poetry. <![CDATA[<b>Ben Okri's <i>the famished road</i></b>: <b>a re-evaluation</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This paper assesses positively the important contributions which Ato Quayson and Douglas McCabe have made to the understanding of Ben Okri's The Famished Road. But it questions whether placing the novel firmly in the context of Yoruba orality, as Quayson does, or in the tradition of New Age spirituality, as McCabe does, does not diminish the work unduly. It points out that Ben Okri did not take his Yoruba material directly from traditional folklore but from secondary sources in which the myths and legends of the Yoruba have been modified and re-interpreted and in The Famished Road the original folk narratives are further transfigured by close linkage with the myths and legends of other lands. Similarly, Azaro's chanting of the soft paradisal anthems of New Age travellers does not stand in the novel unchanged; it is absorbed and transformed by the context of a novel which deals with the problems of growing up and willingly accepting the burdens of an adult life. The article concludes, after a careful re-evaluation of leading episodes in the novel, that a broad late twentieth century context of existentialist thought and postmodern fiction is the proper background for appreciating a novel in which the extravagances of African folk art are adapted to contemporary myth of the culture hero. <![CDATA[<b>Chinua Achebe</b>: <b>a re-assessment</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This article argues that the genius of Chinua Achebe as a novelist was definitely assisted by the advantage of an early start so that other African writers had no choice but to look up to him. It was Chinua Achebe who established and defined the Nigerian tradition in the novel, a tradition that takes its roots from our folk culture and creatively makes use of our proverbs, legends, folktales, and local myths, thus giving expression to our national culture. And by making capital of what is indigenous in both Nigerian and African literature, Achebe established the total rehabilitation of the image and dignity of the African personality bruised and damaged by the colonial master. Achebe's achievements were indeed so fascinating that a "School of Achebe" arose. It is understood that both in his fictional and non-fictional works plus his interviews and other critical essays, Achebe is at heart a social critic. This is made clear in The Trouble with Nigeria in which he concentrated on the issue of poor leadership in Nigeria. He had equally dealt with the problem of poor leadership in his earlier fiction where he created leaders who failed their people. With the failure of both leaders of the old order and of the military regimes, Achebe places his hopes on the elite on whom the duty of salvaging Nigeria from her leadership problems rests. But will the elite rise up to the challenge? Achebe is a writer to whom we are grateful. <![CDATA[<b>Forget the muse, think only of the (decentered) subject?</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100005&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This essay involves an exploration of complex and fascinating acts of decentering and re-centering of writers in relation to traditional Muses as institutionalizations or sedimentations of artistic and intellectual inspiration in cultural tradition. Using the specific example of Wole Soyinka's much discussed appropriation of Ogun, the Yoruba god of war, metallurgy and creativity as a point of departure, the paper gives what is intended as a far more complex and even more contradictory relationship between Soyinka and this chosen Muse than what we typically encounter in the criticism and scholarship on the Nigerian dramatist's writings. This is done in two distinct though interlocking interpretive, discursive moves: first, by reading Soyinka's positive appropriation of Ogun against Derek Walcott's disavowal of the Muses of both Europe and Africa in the play, Dream on Monkey Mountain and in one of his most important essays, "The Muse of History"; and, secondly, by critically excavating Soyinka's own scathing and revisionary critique of Ogun as a Muse in his first major play, A Dance of the Forests. Building on these readings of Soyinka and Walcott, the essay ends with a plea for paying as much attention, in the postcolonial Nigerian and African context, to re-centering as is given to decentering in Western postmodernist discourses, always with an eye to the interpenetrations and exchanges that take place among the diverse literary and cultural traditions of the world. <![CDATA[<b>Writing resistance</b>: <b>dissidence and visions of healing in Nigerian poetry of the military era</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100006&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en 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. <![CDATA[<b>'Daughteronomy'</b>: <b>Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, domestic amazons and patriarchal assumptions in <i>Children of the Eagle</i></b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100007&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo is one of the outstanding vibrant feminist voices in Nigerian literature today. Her trilogy that started in 1996 was completed in 2002 with the publication of Children of the Eagle. In this novel she underscores the possible place, and role of umuada (women married out of a kin-group) and alutaradi (women married into a kin-group) in a quest to dismantle patriarchy in her Igboland. The novel interrogates patriarchal assumptions about women while pointing to hitherto uncelebrated facets of female panache and comportment in an otherwise unfavourable social and cultural matrix. In this essay, 'daughteronomy' refers to her dialogue with daughters married in and out of Umuga in Igboland and their enlistment in the struggle to topple male supremacy. Children of the Eagle fictionalises dimensions of what women know, expresses resistance to the male predispositions towards women while applying tropes that seek to foreground these imputations. <![CDATA[<b>Exile, exilic consciousness and the poetic imagination in Tanure Ojaide's poetry</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100008&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en 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. <![CDATA[<b>History and ideology in Chimamanda Adichie's fiction</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100009&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The colonial experience of the African and the imposition of colonial values on the African worldview are factors that indeed had provided the impetus and even motivation for much of the literary production in the continent. This essay traces specifically the issue of religious ideology/conflict from Achebe through Ngũgĩ to Adichie. It attempts to show that in the successful execution of her goals and objectives in Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Adichie mounts the rostrum reserved for the African masters of the art. In this novel, she, in addition to other things, shows the wickedness perpetrated by overzealous African converts who often demand and expect (from their dependants) the degree of self-negation which Soyinka has identified as cultural hostility. The essay further posits that in the celebration of Nigerian history, even when 'temporarily dislocated', as well as our legitimate niche in the Commonwealth of Nations, as she has done in Half of a Yellow Sun, Adichie educates non-Africans and alienated Africans about the indomitable African spirit. <![CDATA[<b>The poet as rainmaker</b>: <b>fertility and pluvial aesthetics in Osundare's <i>The Eye of The Earth</i></b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100010&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en In Niyi Osundare's The Eye of the Earth, the poet functions as a primeval community's shaman or rainmaker whose main duty is to ensure adequate rainfall whenever "the rains have kept their time" and drought persists beyond the vernal equinox. "Farmer-born" and "peasant-bred" in an agrarian community, the poet in the collection consciously and unconsciously assumes the role of rainmaker in his poetry. This is not only for the material good of his local agrarian Ikere-Ekiti community in Nigeria but also for the salubrious enrichment of the citizens of the universe whose well being depends on the pluvial fertility of the earth. Osundare notes that The Eye of the Earth was partly inspired by the Green Peace movement, which accentuates the significance of the poet's evocation of the ancient tradition of rainmaking in the volume. This essay highlights the magico-religious tradition of rainmaking and examines the symbolism of the poet's assumption of the role of a traditional rainmaker in synthesizing human experience in his poetry. <![CDATA[<b>Nuptial poetry among the Tiv of Nigeria</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100011&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This essay first introduces briefly ethnological data of the Tiv, focusing particularly on their marriage forms. The important place of the marriage dance in their marriage ceremony is identified. Also identified is the involvement of poetry in the dance. Three kinds of poetic performances are highlighted. These are the solicited poems from professional poets, the solos performed individually by elderly women during the dances, and the dominant antiphonies that are of general participation. The antiphonies are divided into those that welcome the bride, those that abuse bad wives, those that praise smart grooms, those that demonstrate men's courting manipulations and those that celebrate sexuality. Each of these divisions is exemplified with poetic illustrations. In conclusion, the artistry and functionality of Tiv nuptial poems are re-emphasised. <![CDATA[<b>A dance on contrasting platforms</b>: <b>African tradition and revolutionary aesthetics in Esiaba Irobi's plays</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100012&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Igbo African tradition, characterised mainly by rituals and myths, has often been regarded as too codified and therefore a dead end of sorts, as M.J.C. Echeruo observes in his article "The dramatic limits of Igbo ritual" (1981). But Esiaba Irobi, in his plays of revolutionary aesthetics, decodes this and has practically given it limbs, sinews and all, breathing into it a Marxist revolutionary life. The result of this miscegenation of forms is a dramaturgy that is rich both in the African tradition and culture of songs, dirges, anecdotes, and the age grade system-propelled communal festivals of ritual sacrifice, on one hand, and the Marxist Brechtian revolutionary aesthetics, characterised by a dramatisation of what Frantz Fanon (1963: 255) sees as "the blood-thirsty tension fed by classes", dialectics, and the alienation techniques on the other. In Esiaba Irobi's Hangmen Also Die (1989) and Nwokedi (1991), we see this "blood thirsty tension" fully and boisterously, if psychoanalytically, dramatised. For what he presents in these plays is a psycho-dramatic portraiture of characters, especially disenchanted characters, bitterly going against their oppressors. These model "victims of the system", as Francois Maspero (1980: viii) would say, have been driven to the fringes of reason by vicious and blindfolding oppression and they fight back sporadically and blindly at whoever they stumble on especially in Hangmen. But in Nwokedi they have matured into a visionary vanguard force, having realized the collective nature of the struggle to dislodge their oppressors. In the end, Irobi has literarily responded to Fanon's (1963: 255) clarion call that "we must invent", that "we must work out new concepts, and try to set afoot a new man", while recognizing (and creatively appropriating) "the sometimes prodigious thesis which Europe has put forward." <![CDATA[<b>Endogenous and exogenous factors in national development</b>: <b>inferences from the metaphor of witchcraft (<i>Àj</i>é) in Ọlátúbòsún Ọládàpò's poetry</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100013&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This work engages political commentary in the work of Ọlátúb<img src="/img/revistas/tvl/v48n1/a13car03.jpg" align="absmiddle" >sún Oládàp<img src="/img/revistas/tvl/v48n1/a13car03.jpg" align="absmiddle" >, a Yorùbá poet. Its focus is on the way that political ideas and values that are rooted in Nigerian culture can inspire development. The study is an exegesis of a poem entitled Emi lo ó máa fàj<img src="/img/revistas/tvl/v48n1/a13car01.jpg" align="absmiddle" ><img src="/img/revistas/tvl/v48n1/a13car02.jpg" align="absmiddle" > rẹ sẹ? ("What will you do with your own witchcraft?). The reading explores the multilayered paradoxes and metaphors of witchcraft in the poem, concluding that the God-given abilities and capabilities possessed by Nigerians should be the bases for solving their national problems as the nation needs leaders of a vision and mission. The poet maintains that the Nigerian political leaders have a critical role to play in changing the fortune of the nation by leading by example. In addition, the poet opines that the single factor that explains the national economic stagnation is the lack of integrity and public spiritedness among the political leaders, illustrated through his metaphor of witchcraft <![CDATA[<b>Adichie's <i>Purple Hibiscus</i> and issues of ideology in the constitution of the Nigerian novel</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100014&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The interplay of the subject and concept of ideological interpellation in Adichie's Purple Hibiscus is exemplary of how the Nigerian novel represents the changing experience of nationhood in Nigeria. Adichie's novel adopts the element of voice as a veritable strategy for the constitution of this interplay of subjects and interpellation. Accordingly, the novel negotiates the tension between the two aspects of voice, that of who sees and that of who narrates. Through the homodiegetic character, Kambili, whose name means "That I too may live", Adichie presents a dialectical situation between characters understood as subjects, with the eventual emergence of Kambili to self-knowledge and condition of social responsibility. The aim of this is to examine how Adichie's Purple Hibiscus is typical of how the Nigerian novel engages itself in issues of ideology and how these issues, in turn, crystallize the challenges of nation-ness in Nigeria. We begin by recalling Walter Benjamin's timely assertion that the novel gives evidence of the profound perplexity of living. The significance of Benjamin's assertion for the Nigerian novel is the sense of anxious conjuncture that disavows the fixity and current of certainty in the oral tale. The implication of this for the Nigerian novel is its formal dynamism that enables it to illuminate the changing challenges of nationhood. <![CDATA[<b><i>Poiesis</i></b>: <b>on creations and their world with reference to Versfeld's <i>Pots and Poetry</i></b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100015&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en In this review article the first comprehensive interpretation of Martin Verfeld's Pots and Poetry is presented. The nature of the philosopher's discursive practice is presented with reference to his other work. It is argued that "connection" (of meaning) is the continuous theme of the nine independent essays. Connection justifies the non-analytic form of reasoning in the book and calls for comparision between philosophical and poetic writing. Analytic writing is symptomatic of the modernist instrumentalist relation to reality and the "cannibalist ego"; writing that echoes the carmen universi initiates the therapy consiting of reverberating with the original cosmic generosity. Versfeld's attempt at re-connecting the technical and artistic heritage of the Greek poiesis is examined. Poetic existence is shown to be the essence of a life that gives creative recognition to the original meaningful interconnection of the world. The cultural critical and political dimensions of such an existence are exposed and submitted to criticism. http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2011000100016&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en