Orality, Memory and the new African Diaspora Poetry: Examining Tanure Ojaide's Poetics

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Edoama Frances Odueme (University of Lagos, Nigeria)

Published Sep 5, 2019


The influence of traditional oral poetic forms on modern African poetry has been significant. Fascinated by oral forms which their respective communities relied on (to inform, teach, and correct erring members) before the advent of literacy, modern African writers borrow from these oral traditions and blend them with the features of the written Western literary forms. This appropriation of the oral poetic techniques by modern African poets continues today, as is clearly evident in the writings of many contemporary African poets, whose scripted works are seen to have drawn much in terms of content and form from the African oral poetic tradition. Following in this trend, the new African diaspora poets have also maintained the practice of skillfully blending the rich African verbal art and the modern (written) poetic forms to articulate the experiences of their African homeland as well as those of the diaspora, in order to construct and project their identities and visions of a new life in their lived world. In order to explore how through recourse to memory, “new African diasporas” (African-descended people who migrated out of Africa, during the postcolonial era and who live and practice their art outside the African homeland) utilize African oral art techniques in their writings, this essay analyses the poetry of Tanure Ojaide.


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