A Fete of Lamentations

Celebrating the Nigerian State through Ademola Dasylva’s Songs of Odamolugbe

in Matatu
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The Nigerian political milieu has, for more than five decades since independence, been bedevilled by adventurist civilian and military leaders, coups d’ état, and a seemingly ‘docile’ citizenry (who receive the ‘fallout’ of bad governance). This political landscape saw a handful of democratic governments (two overthrown by putsch). These leadership swaps have resulted in no major changes in the socio-political and economic lives of the led. In his poem collection Songs of Odamolugbe, Ademola Dasylva explores imagery, realistic symbolism, and revolutionary poetry to paint, recall, and re-live various past and present debilitating national issues engendered by groups and personalities. This essay draws on Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical theory of the unconscious. Freud distinguishes between psychoanalysis as i) a method for investigating unconscious mental processes and ii) a method for treating neurotic disorders. There is the subtle examination of the mental workings of the leadership and the led in and towards governance. This essay seeks to explore how Dasylva exposes leaders’ mental flaws, egoistic behaviour, and wrongly placed ‘patriotism’ and seeks redeeming positives in his poetry of social protest and resistance. The poetry rejects the cerebral, laissez-faire ‘sit-down-look’ attitude of the people, encouraging instead a different type of analytical and active ‘patriotism’ imbued with the fresh spirit of ‘Naija’. The essay affirms that there should be full and positive participation in the polity and development of the country by both the leaders and the led.

Matatu

Journal for African Culture and Society

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References

1

Ademola O. Dasylva, Songs of Odamolugbe (Ibadan: Kraft, 2006): 49. Further page references are in the main text.

6

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