Subverting Nationalism

Historicizing Horrors of the Past in Femi Fatoba’s They Said I Abused the Government and Wole Soyinka’s Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known

in Matatu
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


The thematics of Femi Fatoba’s They Said I Abused the Government (2001) and Wole Soyinka’s Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known (2002) demonstrate the potential of art to bear witness to the bizarre, depressing anomie bedevilling Nigeria between 1993 and 1998. This anomie was ruinously orchestrated by the power-hungry military, who annulled the free and fair presidential election won by Chief M.K.O. Abiola. This military incursion into Nigeria’s political sphere was facilitated by a nebulous nationhood plagued by contending differences among its federating units. The notorious brutality of General Abacha’s regime was a cavalcade of incarceration and killings of real and imagined political dissidents. Especially, outspoken politicians who fell victim to unstable power-plays were kept in detention facilities across the country. They Said I Abused the Government and Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known’s articulation of these ‘years of the locusts’ is epitomized by the closing of newspapers, brain drain, and the imagery of stasis and displacement. These occurrences are captured by the accusatory tone of Femi Fatoba and Wole Soyinka’s poetics as they protest the military brigandage in their works. The essay seeks to explicate how protest and satire have been harnessed to articulate the subversion of nationalism in postcolonial Nigeria.


Journal for African Culture and Society




Oyeniyi Okunoye, “Writing resistance: Dissidence and visions of healing in Nigerian poetry of the military era,” Tydskrif vir Letterkunde 48.1 (2011): 66–67.


Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Homecoming (London: Heinemann, 1972): 55.


Margaret Poloma, Contemporary Sociological Theory (New York: Macmillan, 1979): 67.


Remi Anifowoshe, Violence and Politics in Nigeria (Enugu: Nok Publishers International, 1982): 25.


Edward Quinn, A Dictionary of Literary and Thematic Terms (New York: Facts On File, 1999): 291.


Obafemi Awolowo, The Path to Nigerian Freedom (London: Faber & Faber, 1947): 58.


Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983): 15.


Chinua Achebe, There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra (London: Penguin, 2012): 51.


Sanya Osha, “Writing in a Continent Under Siege,” Research in African Literatures 29.1 (Winter 1998): 177–178.


Ilana Pardes, “Imagining the Promised Land: The Spies in the Land of the Giants,” History and Memory 6.2 (1994): 9.


Cobham, “Boundaries of the Nation,” 84.


Harry Garuba, The Poetry of Odia Ofeimun and Femi Fatoba (Lagos: Guardian, 1986).


Garuba, The Poetry of Odia Ofeimun and Femi Fatoba, 21.


Osofisan, “Theater and the Rites of ‘Post-Negritude’ Remembering,” Research in African Literatures 30.1 (Winter 1999): 6.


Basil Davidson, The Black Man’s Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State (New York: Times Books, 1992): 188.


Tanure Ojaide, “New Trends in Modern African Poetry,” Research in African Literatures 26.1 (Winter 1995): 17.


Reed Way Dasenbrock, “Poetry and Politics,” in A Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry, ed. Neil Roberts (Oxford & Malden MA: Blackwell, 2003): 51.


Chris Dunton, “Sologa, Eneka, and the Supreme Commander: The Theater of Ken Saro-Wiwa,” Research in African Literatures 29.1 (Winter 1998): 153.


Gerhard Wendler, “Foreword,” in Oil Exploration and Exploitation, the State and Crises in Nigeria’s Oil-Bearing Enclave, ed. Funmi Adewumi (Lagos: Friedrich Ebert Foundation, 1998): vi.


Wendler, “Foreword,” v.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 12 12 3
Full Text Views 5 5 5
PDF Downloads 1 1 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0