Situating Tanure Ojaide’s The Tale of the Harmattan: History, the environment, socio- economic and political concerns, and orature
Tanure Ojaide’s book of poems, The Tale of the Harmattan (2007), offers poetry readers and those familiar with his opus a critical insight of the dismal socio-political and economic conditions of Nigeria’s Niger Delta region. Oil exploration and its devastating effects on the environment and the human family form the bulk of the poet’s concerns. The poems range in style and form; however, what makes the collection a publication of substance is the poet’s ability to examine contemporary issues with the eyes of a witness and the sincerity of one driven by empathy. This essay focuses on the poet’s selection of themes and the historical, cultural, and political contexts of his poetry. More importantly, I argue that Ojaide employs bold rhetoric and an assortment of techniques to assert the importance of his persona as an eyewitness to historical happenings, especially the destruction of the Niger Delta’s ecosystem and environment as a result of oil exploitation and the marginalization of the ethnic minority people in whose land oil is exploited.
Key words: Exploitation, harmattan, oil, Kaiama, Niger Delta, ecosystem, Egbesu boys, minority, Ken Saro-Wiwa, expatriates.
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