The essay traces the changing manifestations of trauma in Nigerian prose, focusing on Ken Saro-Wiwa’s autobiography A Month and a Day: A Detention Diary. The autobiography lies at a crucial nexus in the drift of trauma in narrative, an era during which trauma ceases to adopt pre-historical forms and is officially assembled into terrorist weaponry. Trauma in A Month and a Day results from state terrorism—it is transparently political, and is thereby a link between the archetypes of trauma that precede it and the sub-state terrorism that comes in its wake. The essay concludes that Saro-Wiwa’s diary is a milestone on the route from personal trauma to the trauma of state terrorism in Nigerian testimony.
Sophie Ogwude“Politics and Human Rights in Non-Fiction Prison Literature,” in War in African Literature Todayed. Ernest N. Emenyonu (African Literature Today 26; Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Woodbridge & Rochester NY: James Currey 2008): 73. Subsequent page references are in the main text.