ORATURE AND ECO-ENGAGEMENT IN TANURE OJAIDE’S SONGS OF MYSELF

Kufre Usanga

Abstract


Gabriel Okara, J. P. Clark and a number of poets from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria have engaged with the ecological devastation of the oil-rich Delta in their poetry. However, Tanure Ojaide appears to be the most prolific and activistic of contemporary poets of the region; his poetic aesthetic charts a different approach to understanding the unabated ecocide in the Niger Delta. This paper examines Ojaide’s poetics of fusing two aesthetic practices: oral traditions — native to Urhobo people of the Niger Delta region — and the modern scribal form to evoke a peculiar petro-lore in the collection Songs of Myself1. How does folkloric tradition frame Ojaide’s poetry? How does his engagement with folklore engender an aesthetic of petro-lore particular to the Delta?  This essay will draw on ecocritical theories to examine these questions as well as analyze the poet’s eco-concerns in Songs of Myself, in order to demonstrate the poet’s unflinching engagement with environmental entanglements and tensions.

 


Keywords


Keywords: Environment; Orality; Tradition; Folklore; Niger Delta.

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