Social Protest and Literary Imagination in Selected Nigerian Novels

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Oniyide, A.K
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This study is an examination of how selected Nigerian novelists have, through the literary imagination, used protest as a mode of expression necessary for assessing the relationship between art, ideology and social consciousness. This study examines the relationship of these three elements within the context of selected Nigerian novels dealing with a specific society struggling within difficult economic and socio-political circumstances. The analytical focus is on six primary texts, namely Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah (1987); Kole Omotoso’s Just Before Dawn (1988); Buchi Emecheta’s Destination Biafra (1982); Festus Iyayi’s Violence (1979); Okey Ndibe’s Arrows of Rain (2000) and Helon Habila’s Waiting for an Angel (2002). The choice of these texts is informed by the fact that their thematic preoccupations and structural concerns are broadly similar. In these texts, the selected writers have attempted to chart a course of communal awareness and social reconstruction as they show concern for the socio-political issues prevalent in Nigeria. In essence, the study takes a close look at the nature of protest, its manifestation in literature and the novel, and the way in which the literary imagination transforms it to suit the artistic temper of the individual authors while at the same time retaining its essence as a means of drawing attention to inequity and injustice. A cursory examination of the texts selected for this study underscores their reading as protest texts. Anthills of the Savannah, Just Before Dawn, Destination Biafra, Violence, Arrows of Rain and Waiting for an Angel. To varying extents, these texts show that the events that constitute the national narrative are all subject to contention because they are informed by the conflicting motivations of different characters, distorted by a variety of perspectives and shaped by the dynamics of an ever-evolving culture, as well as by the biases and objectives of the writers themselves. The study concludes that, in the evaluation of social protest and the literary imagination in the Nigerian novel, it is important to analyse the relativity or ideological pursuits of the selected writers. The selected writers in this study appear to be shaped by the prevailing Nigerian socio-political imbalance and its resultant harshness. This in turn is expressed in their individual reactions to these perceived socio-political problems. The recurrent motif in all the texts in this study is what could be regarded as the most recent state of consciousness in Nigerian fiction; namely, an ideological stance which no longer contents itself with either blaming outsiders or by wallowing in a literature of despair and disillusionment.
A Thesis Submitted to the School of Postgraduate Studies, University of Lagos
Nigerian Novelists , Art , Economic and Socio-political Circumstances , Literary Imagination , Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION::Aesthetic subjects::Art
Oniyide, A.K (2010). Social Protest and Literary Imagination in Selected Nigerian Novels. A Thesis Submitted to University of Lagos School of Postgraduate Studies Phd Thesis and Dissertation, 288pp.