Poetry Evolution in Nigeria


Nigeria, probably the most populated country of Africa, is a multi-lingual and multi-ethnic Nation. It’s comprised of cultural nationalities like: Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Efik, Ibibio, Bini, Nupe, Igala, Urhobo, Itsekiri, to point out a couple of, each one with the unique language of its. The country’s multi-lingual and multi-ethnic nature engenders an equally multi cultural setting.

Nigeria’s cultural diversity discover expressions in the artistic and literary endeavours of the peoples of her, namely: poetry, dance, drama, sculpture, music, painting, prose, etc.

Pre-Colonial Poetry

Poetry as a talent has undergone evolution from pre colonial to colonial and after that to contemporary and post-colonial eras in Nigeria. Poetry in the pre colonial era was unwritten. Generally there existed a thin line between musicians and poets, who composed as well as rendered poetry in musical form.

Poets next love Mazi Oparan’aku Onyeukwu(author’s grandfather), of Umude Avuvu in the current working day Ikeduru local Government Area of Imo State Nigeria, whose nocturnal poetry renditions earned him the nickname “Obe na abali” meaning “the nocturnal voice”, released the works of theirs in type of renditions at funerals, marriage ceremonies, etcetera.

Poets and then were additionally visible in improving the morale of tribal soldiers, along with composing verses for usage by diviners such as Ifa priests of the Yoruba race. The existence of theirs in palaces were additionally considered as a paraphernalia of royalty. Poetry themes then simply consisted in praising virtues & condemning vices in the next compressed society. One of the things of pre colonial Nigerian poetry that’s inadequate in other eras is its religious leaning.

Poets in that era had affinities with deities worshipped in the countries of theirs. In many pre colonial Nigerian cultures, poets have been viewed as anointed mouthpieces of deities and are accorded recognition as quasi priests. Remarkable additionally is the resilience of the (oral) poetry of this particular era that discover expressions in the works of modern day Nigerian scholars of dental literature as Professor Wande Abimbola.

Colonial Poetry

The launch of western like education of Nigeria by the colonial missionaries, radically altered the form of poetry, this particular development of Nigerian poets, like; Wole Soyinka, John Pepper Clark, Christopher Okigbo, Gabriel Okara, et al, having acquired western education, released the poems of theirs in book form and then rendered them in tv and radio stations as well as on the phases of semi contemporary theatres. The themes however, centered primarily on battling colonialism, that had been viewed as being a vice.

Poetry themes while in the colonial era tended to academic, resulting into an inclination to incorporate the poetry of that era to appeal principally to members of the academia. The polarization of overseas political economic system in socialism and capitalism even impacted the themes of colonial era Nigerian poets, majority of who have been knowledgeable in America and Europe. The result of the polarization will better be appreciated once the works of Nigerian poets of the era are evaluated.


Post-Colonial Poetry

By the conclusion of colonialism, poets in post colonial Nigeria, now subjected to technical training, substantially altered one as well as themes of poetry writing and rendition. Compressing Nigerian poetry themes in the post colonial era in certain moulds is somehow hard. This’s due to the growth of different socio economic, cultural and political tendencies which poets of the era should appeal to. Even during the midst of the trouble, post colonial era Nigerian poets as Niyi Osundare, Onwuchekwa Jemie, Chari Ada Onwu, et al, was able to concentrate on socially, culturally and politically relevant themes.

Stylish Poetry

Fashionable Nigerian poets like: Obi Nwakanma, Odia Ofeimun, Chidi Anthony Opara, et al, Sola Osofisan, Maik Nwosu, Ogaga Ifowodo, post primarily on the web and make the poems of theirs with advanced audio visual instruments through just as complicated audio visual broadcast channels and on phases of ultra modern theatres. Among the main problems experienced by Nigerian poets of the era will be the failure or reluctance on the components of literary critics, who must usually be the fulcrum of qualitative literary craftmanship to update their very own abilities to meet up with the difficulties of literary productions in an Internet age.

Yet another significant problem is the erroneous perception in fashionable Nigeria that Poetry is just an intellectual physical exercise, whose entertainment article shouldn’t be emphasized. While contemporary Poets in other areas of the planet are exploiting this particular entertainment factor to improve themselves as well as the societies of theirs, expertly, economically, politically, culturally and socially, contemporary Nigerian Poets nevertheless open the craft of theirs coming from an incorrect prism of poetry being just an intellectual physical exercise, with the attendant professional of its, political, economic, cultural and social effects.

Online poetry posting has however, contributed mostly to the collapse of poetry hegemonies created along Nsukka-Enugu-Owerri and Ibadan-Ife-Lagos literary axis respectively, right away after the Nigerian civil war.