NIGERIAN LITERATURE1 PASS QUESTION AND ANSWER
1. Discuss ideology in Nigerian literature using any three of the following
i. Festus Ajayi’s violence
ii. Ngozi Chuma Udeh’s the presidential handshake
iii. Maik Nwosu’s invisible Chapters
iv. Helon Habila’s Waiting for an Angel
Before delving into exploration of the novels above, it is pertinent to note that this is a stage in Nigerian Literature where the writer is a mover, a propeller and a force to reckon with. It was a continuation of the disillusionment and protest from the post colonial literature.
i. FESTUS IYAYI’S VIOLENCE
Iyayi’s ideology presents a system that subjugates and underrates the poor. We are duly presented with characters from two classes of the society. There are Obufun and his errant wife Queen who belonged to the rich having made their fortune through irritatingly crooked means. Obufun was a civil servant who collects bribe and his wife siphons government funds and build estate through extra marital means.
On the other hand, Idemudia and his wife, Pretty Adisa lived in abject poverty and want. He sells blood to feed his wife and they sent their only son away because they could not sustain him.
Idemudia and his friends were hired to offload bags of cement under a terrible and torrential downpour at a meagre wage of Five naira per labourer and they were almost sent away. Idemudia caught pneumonia and was hospitalised. At the hospital he was held back for a bill of twenty naira while in his home, Obufun seduces the pretty Adisa forcefully and gave her hundred Naira.
The central theme in Iyayi’s ideological contribution as it mirrors the Nigerian society is that the social gab between the rich and the poor is so wide that only a physical and psychological violence can bridge it. What strikes the readers most about Iyayi’s violence is how the writer condemns the system as unjust and violent.
ii. HELON HABILA’s WAITING FOR AN ANGEL
This is a pure depiction of Nigeria in the 1990s. It was a lawless state with human rights abuses to the extent that the country was barred from the commonwealth of nation.
Helon Habila’s main character is Lomba, a journalist and frustrated novelist who was a political prisoner languishing in a Lagos jail. In prison, he was seen as having departed the zone of actual human existence where the human feelings and anger had meaning.
The jailer mandating the prisoner to write love poem for him signifies an acceptance of the prisoner’s superior knowledge. The situation was so critical that one of the young men, Lomba’s friend asked to know the day of his death which he knew would be soonest and thus; will be “spectacular and momentous”. Writing was seriously censored and publishing was done under severe checks and balances. Lomba lost hope of ever publishing his novel.
The ideology is that Habila moves for the freedom of the press, free, egalitarian and just society where men would be free to do what they know best how to.
iii. MAIK NWOSU’S INVISIBLE CHAPTERS
This is a portrayal of the vagueness and hollowness of life in Nigeria. Life is umplanned and without direction. Prinzi the hero of the novel is a man carrying the burden of the ills and trauma of an entire society. He points out that everything in the country is encased in a thick fog of mystery invisible to the naked eye.
Maik Nwosu’s Invisible Chapters portrays the height of heartlessness of both the rich and the military government in their treatment of the poor indigenes of Maroko. There was no other home for the residents except their muddy shanties. The government simply gave them a surprise pack by waking up one morning with growling bulldozers accompanied by a battalion of rabid, trigger ready soldiers assigned with the express task of implementing the quit order earlier given to the inhabitants of the innermost trauma of the poor destitute masses as they struggle to survive.
Today in Nigeria, Prinzi’s invisible pages are filled with gory tales of woes, bombing of innocent citizens, perennial threats of terrorism, unending political tensions, absolute religious prejudice and psychological fear and anxiety about the future of the nation and the citizenry.
Maik moves for a transformation of the Nigerian socio-polical experience. The ideology is the kind that moves against the political manoeuvring and plots which threatens the survival of the country. He is deeply concerned about the psychological mayhem bedevilling the average Nigerian character
2. Using J. P Clark’s Ozidi Saga and Ngozi Chuma-Udeh’s Ojadili, X-ray the text and context of the Epic in Nigeria
The Epic is a long narrative or poem on a serious subject or action involving heroic characters and the performance of heroic deeds. However, Ozidi Saga translated by John Pepper Clark in 1977 drew the attention of the world to a very thriving and exciting tradition of African heroic lore.
It centred on the Orua Community who has been plagued by constant death of their kings. The kingship is rotational and falls on the last of its seven wards. The title is entrusted on a family whose eldest member is a mentally retarded man, Temugedege. The younger brother of the retarded man is Ozidi, the supreme commander of Orua’s forces. He appealed to the community to look for another family but the elder brother refused. Temugedege choosed to be the king as it is his right and demands a human head for coronation.
The entire community were embarrassed at the thought of an idiot becoming the king of Orua. The town most powerful generals planned against the coronation. They accompanied Temugedege’s younger brother, Ozidi who is their supreme commander to a neighbouring community to procure a human head for the coronation rites. On the way, his own men ambushed him and killed him and brought home his head. Temugedege ran away for his own life while the wife of Ozidi contemplates suicide. He was consoled by the mother in law who buried and went into exile with his wife. Later it was found that Ozidi’s wife was pregnant. She delivered and named him Ozidi in place of her dead husband.
The final battle was drawn when he found out how his father was killed. He killed the women who were bragging about how thwir husband killed the senior Ozidi. In the end, Ozidi defeats all of these powerful men thereby setting his father’s soul free to join his ancestors.
The epic therefore helps to instil in a community of people the sentiment that their past is solid and recognized. In the contemporary Nigerian society, the Ijaw were known for the tradition of head hunting. In the olden days, human heads were used to venerate their kings. The epic relays a fundamental part of the society’s culture.
3. Discuss the contribution of any four of the following early Nigerian writers.
a. D. O Fagunwa
b. Amos Tutuola
c. Pita Nwanna
d. L. B Gams
e. D. N Achara
f. Muhammadu Bello
g. Sumanja Mazan Fama
h. Karo da Gama
D. O Fagunwa
D. O Fagunwa wa a Nigerian author who pioneered the Yoruba language Novel. In 1938 entering a litrary context of the Nigerian education ministry, Fagunwa wrote his ‘Ogboju ode nunu igbo irumale’ widely considered the first novel written in the Yoruba language and one of the first to be written in any African language.
Wole Soyinka translated the book into English in 1968 as the forest of a thousand demons. He wrote other works such as igbo olodumare, the forest God, 1949.
Basically, his heroes are usually Yoruba hunters who interact with kings, sages and even gods in their quests. He influenced contemporary writers as Amos Tutuola.
Is a Nigerian author of richly inventive fantasies. He is best known for the novel, ‘Palm Wine Drunkard and his Dead-Palm Wine Tapster in the Dead’s town which was the first Nigerian book to achieve international fame.
Tutuola had only six years of formal schooling and wrote completely outside the mainstream of Nigerian literature.
Tutuola’s vivid presentation of the world of Yoruba mythology and religion and his gasp of literary form made him a success among a wide British, African and American audience.
Omenuka by Pita Nwanna is the first novel to be written in the Igbo language and the book was very successful among the Igbo people. The book tells the life story of the politician Igwegbe Odun, an Igbo who migrated to Arondizuogu. Written in 1933, it won a prize in a competition run by the international African institute and is the biography of the eponymous slave-trade dealer.
Muhammadu Bello was the second sultan of Sokoto. He was an active writer of history, poetry and Islamic studies. Not much is known but the records shows he was the earliest Northern writer of the current Nigeria. His works include ‘Infaq’l-Maysuur and Risaa’lat ‘lil-Amraad which was translated into Hausa language.
4. X-ray the text and context of oral Literature in Nigeria using any two books of your choice
The text is based on the fact that oral literature has always been the earliest form of literature and therefore is as old as man. It comprises of all the values, beliefs and gen of a community of people. These are passed down generation lane through face to face contact between the elderly custodians and the younger generations. However, Nigeria has a rich and thriving oral tradition which existed as long as there was life in the numerous ethnic communities.
The context predicates on the intensive attempt made by several uninformed white writers to establish some pointless, even useless hypothesis. Namely, that the black man has little or no significant oral literature. This assumption that the black man lacked the capability of such artful creativity as the oral literature is an inevitable by product of a general western prejudice regarding some other cultures. In this regard, Isidore Okpewho opined;
There used to be a widely held view especially among European intellectuals who observed African societies in the nineteenth century…..that there was nothing of true literary merit in African oral literature.
Contending the bias Ogbukagwu observed that as soon as the European failed to see identical features that manifested European cultures in Africa, they came to a rushed but erroneous conclusion that Africans have no past, no culture, no religion, no traditional ceremonies and of course no founding fathers of whom the epic heroes represent.
Bet that as it may, oral literature is present in the three genres of literature such as drama, poetry and prose. What makes Nigerian tales markedly Nigeria is the fact that the oral tales are a communal affair involving both the teller and the audience. This is made manifest in the teller’s narrative style. There are epic, the legends, the myths, folktales, riddles and jokes, proverbs and tongue twisters.
5. Analyse this statement using Chinua Achebe’s Things fall Apart and Arrow of God, ‘that Africa was one long night of savagery from which the first European acting om God’s behalf delivered them.
Note this is similar to the past question on cultural reaffirmation, so don’t be confused
Chinua Achebe’s Things fall Apart and Arrow of God were intended to clear certain hurdles about the black man and his cultural identity. Achebe’s two novels focused on the effects of colonialism on the social lives of Igbos of Nigerians.
It was to the effect that colonial masters brought commerce and Christianity as two arms of the same culture. They came armed with the gun and the bible to dogmatize and to force the acceptance of the western values. Their intent was on economic exploitation. Colonialism was based on the premise that the colonizers were superior beings sent by providence to salvage the colonized. The colonized on the other hand were merely underdogs, cheated by nature and providence and condemned to perpetual darkness of the body and soul. It was based on the above that Chinua Achebe kicked against the supreme arrogance of the colonialists which made them view the existence of the colonized as one long night of savagery from which the first Europeans acting on God’s behalf delivered them. The colonizers propagated these ideas through indoctrination in schools and the churches. The colonial masters treated their subjects like animals.
Obierika was more realistic than his irrational friend. He understood the depth of the destruction caused by the white man and he knew that the remedy was not in physical confrontation. He summed up the whole controversy thus;
The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allow him to stay. Now he has won our brothers and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.
Be that as it may, the spirit which propelled the literature of cultural affirmation was indeed the spirit of restoration. Achebe’s mainstay was to help restore in his people the belief in themselves and their existence and in their culture. Things fall Apart as the native’s ideal and values of life were destroyed in the face of new and strange culture while Arrow of God is by far Achebe’s most prominent literature of the colonial era. According to Chuma-Udeh (2007: 86) He not only treated the religious beliefs and practice of the people in details, he went further to x-ray the effect of colonialism on a typical Nigerian community.
6. Discuss the “No victor No Vanquished” declarations after the Nigerian Civil war from the point of view of Chukwuemeka Ike in Sunset at Down or Chimamanda Adichie in Half of a Yellow Sun.
Chimamanda Adichie Half of a Yellow Sun
The summary of Adichie after the declaration of “No victor, No Vanquished” is that the world was silent when Biafra died. There was the victor and there was the vanquished. The novel which started with “master was little crazy, he had read so many books overseas and talks to himself” tells the story of Nigerian civil war of the late 60s through the eyes of a young boy Ugwu and Olanna.
Adichie unveiled the fact that the killing of unarmed Igbos during the war was a decision of the Nigerian government to wipe an entire ethnic group. It was genocide.
The war was fought on one side and that was only in the Eastern Nigeria. The implication was that while there was war going on in the East, the then Head of State, Gen. Gowon performed his marriage ceremony on the same day Asaba was conquered.
The book which Ugwu dedicated to master was the result of the attitude of the world institutions and international organization which Nigeria belonged to. Hence, “The World was Silence when we Died”. The British supported the Nigerian government to crush the breakaway of the Biafrans.
It is more an “Irony to state that there was no victor and no vanquished. Millions of Igbos was killed in the war. It was indeed genocide. This was clearly depicted in the conversation of master with other professors that use to visit him. He argued out rightly that they will not understand the agony of the war because their mother, father, brother did not die in the war.
The tragedy of the war reached to the extent that Olanna lost her twin sister Kayinene. It was really a story of the vanquished from the point of view of Adichie. In fact, she termed it genocide. Even Chukwuemeka Ike in his “Sunset at dawn termed it genocide. Food blockade and the hunger accompanied with malnutrition used by the Nigerian government as a weapon of war against the igbo was absolutely inhuman. Hence, there was the victor and there was the vanquished.
7. Review the ethos of identity crisis in Nigerian Literature Using CHINUA ACHEBE’S NO LONGER AT EASE AND NDUBUISI GEORGES WOES OF IKENGA.
Woes of Ikenga by Ndubuisi George was a story that took place initially in Umuafor and extended to Germany afterward. Ikenga the son of Mr. Chukwuma Udeaja after being in so many pains and suffering as a child without a mother began to cultivate the ambition of travelling around the world like heroes who went and returned in Kharki suits armed with new languages. He was presented as an identity crises character right from the day he began the journey to Germany. His arrival at the promise land was celebratedback home and as well goodness had been on his side as he claimed. As fate may have it, he forged identity working with Mr Meirn and the officers of Landesburg caught him form maintaining double identity being a Nigerian and a Sudanese at the same time. this led him to Balthazar a year probation. He was later released.
On meeting Venessa, the identity crises rose to the highest. A man who was striving to survive through getting a work permit was perplexed because on his own culture people do not need a work permit to work. Venessa got pregnant for him and delivered a baby whom Ikenga objected to be circumcised but it was no done in Venesa’s culture. She saw circumcision as a perpetual pain to the child and she never supported the idea. Hence, an inevitable clash of culture had set in because Ikenga and his partner totally lacked knowledge of how to deal with serious problems that were normal in long-term relationships. Two opposing cultures had been abruptly merged and were aggressively fighting for dominance.
At a point Ikenga got confused why his chi had let him down. Throughout his journey he never expected to face any stumbling blocks but it was inescapable to him. When he decided to come back empty handed, the immigration officers that received him back in his country simply kicked him out of the airport. Things had really changed and it was the way he left Umuafor was the way he met it. The area that was once the forest now ringed off with multiple structures towering over the high concrete fences but one particular observation that made him quite uncomfortable was the irritating open sewage that was channelled from the premises into ogba lake. In the end, Ikenga told Umuafor people who had come to welcome him that he did not come back empty handed but a story of his adventure full of lesson. They were disappointed on him who had spent 22years in abroad only to come back home without a bottle of schnapps for home branch.
No Longer At Ease
Chinua Achebe’s novel No Longer at Ease deals with the central problem of corruption and bribery in Nigerian society. The novel traces the career of Obi Okonkwo, an educated idealist Nigerian youth, who finally becomes part of what he opposed. His downfall is brought about through matters. They his inability to fight against corruption. No Longer at Ease is about a generation of Africans caught between the value of a traditional society and the so-called modern civilization represented by the colonizers from Europe.
The title of Chinua Achebe No Longer of Ease suggests the possibility of a time there was “ease”. The struggles of the protagonist, Obi Okonkwo,a twenty-six year old Umuofian educated in the British Colonial system and an the university in Great Britain, are analogous to he struggles facing Nigerian society during the period at the end of colonization. Obi must manage the complexities occasioned by his position as a senior civil servant in the British colonial administration in Lagos and his “taboo” love for Clara, a nurse educated in Britain and an osu, a women banned from marriage by tribal traditons. Obi is the son of Isaac Okonkwo the son of Okonkwo the hero of Things Fall Apart. Isaac had converted to Christianity rejecting his father. Obi is the short form of ‘Obiajulu’ which in Ibo means the ‘mind at last is at rest’. This name later proves to be an irony because Obi himself is not at ease between his peopleand the world, which he is made to live in. Obi is a dreamer and idealist in the beginning. While working on his English B.A. and living in Britain on funds provided by the poor members of his tribe, the Umuofian Union , Obi celebrates his country in a poem, entitled “Nigeria.” He writes, “How sweet it is to lie beneath a tree/ At eventime and share the ecstasy/ Of jocund birds and flimsy butterflies”. No Longer at Ease depicts the complicated picture of Nigeria that Obi finds after four years study abroad.