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The Cumulative Neglect of Collective Responsibility

Postcoloniality, Ecology, and the Niger Deltascape in the Poetry of Tanure Ojaide

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Different media across the world continue to capture the turbulence in Nigeria's Niger Delta, especially the face-off between the so-called militants and the government and the environmental disasters that oil exploration and exploitation have triggered in the area. However, the violence has seldom been conceptualized. Using ecocriticism as a theoretical tool, this essay examines how Tanure Ojaide's poetry on the Niger Delta and environmentalism goes beyond the examination of the tensions between pastoral and progressive ideals. His poetry does not just capture what is lost in man's submission to industrial capitalism, but also configures images and symbols through which man and the environment can be rescued from the ecological tangle of a globalizing world. The essay concludes that Ojaide's environmentalism not only aptly articulates the thrust of ecocriticism, but also makes it functional, so that the aims of this concept are not lost in vagueness. Ojaide's poetry demonstrates that art can be central to urgent environmental concerns and can play a central role in directing attention to unresolved ecological issues.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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