Forms of War in Nigerian Literature

Joy M. Etiowo


In the Nigerian context, every mention of war (as a word in the Nigerian past or present) automatically takes one back to the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War (1967-1970). While reference to this war is an integral part of this study, this paper examines the different faces of war in Nigeria and literary responses to them. Beyond armed conflict, gender positionings and configurations, political manipulations and intrigues, corruption issues, economic, ethnic and religious-inspired uprisings are wars Nigeria has been, and is still, contending with. From the novels of Chinua Achebe, Elechi Amadi, Chukwuemeka Ike, Isidore Okpewho, Festus Iyayi, Femi Osofisan, Okey Ndibe, Flora Nwapa, Buchi Emecheta, Abubakar Gimba, Tanure Ojaide, Afam Belolisa, Kaine Agary; to the poetry of Wole Soyinka, J. P. Clark, Mabel Segun, Pol Ndu, Peter Onwudinjo, Joe Ushie, Catherine Acholonu, Cecilia Kato, Ibiwari Ikiriko, Sophia Obi; to the drama of J. P. Clark, Wole Soyinka, Ola Rotimi, Arnold Udoka, among others, it is evident that these wars have provided impetus to the Nigerian literary artists. These writers have examined the different facets, phases, implications and prospects of these wars. The underlying lesson, in all, is that the liberative undertone of every/any war must never be abused and/or compromised for selfish purposes or unattainable goals.


War; Literature; Nigerian

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