Emergent Tradition And The African Poetry, A Case Study Of Tanure Ojaide’s The “Fate Of Vultures” And “Endless Song”

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

Emergent Tradition And The African Poetry, A Case Study Of Tanure Ojaide’s The “Fate Of Vultures” And “Endless Song”


This work looks into the themes and central ideas of emergent tradition and the African poetry. It aims at examining the message of Ojaide’s as on emergent writer and his opinion about political themes and cultural themes in relation to literary tradition in African poetry. Used in this research work is the writer’s realist ideas, background, experience and the themes preoccupying the emergent tradition and African poetry in relation to literary tradition as represented in this work by Tanure Ojaide.

Chapter One


The word ‘emergent’, means something new and still developing, while ‘tradition’ is a belief custom or way of doing something that has been in existence for a long time among a particular group of people. Therefore, emergent tradition is a new development in literary works. Also some certain writers have come up with new traditions and these writers can be referred to as emergent writers in which the havereinuented the aesthetics traditions they inherited from old writers (dominant writers) and came out with some new forms of writings Oyeniyi Okunoye (2004) said that “The term ‘emergent’ is very much misunderstood. He said that we must not confuse what is historically and materially emergent from the loose sense of emerging or the new”. Therefore, an emergent aesthetic tradition is that which departs from the old in terms of authorial ideology mode of literary ‘Production and aesthetic’ ideology.

The writers in Africa are moved to write because they are constrained to respond to the call of their inner selves to express their though feelings and ideas about their environments, societies and cultures. The African writers therefore, captures their existential experiences through their literary creativities through their innermost feelings. Emergent tradition and African poetry is therefore a product of the modern poets and poetry as a tool for social change and it marks an important development of political consciousness and also, there is a common

ideology uniting poets like Niyi Osundare, Tanure Ojaide and Kofi Anyidoho of Chana. All these poets share the idea that literature can be employed to mediate in socio-political formation.

Apart from this they deploy literary language pattern that communicates to an average reader because most of their works are not entangled with the kind of syntactic obstacles and abstractors found in the so called dominant poets or writer like Wole Soyinka and early Christoper Ohigbo.

For instance some of these emergent poets even find popular language variety like pidgin to be a useful means of aesthetic communication. There is the light-hearted impact of Ojaide’s pidgin rendition of the Image “Mami Wata” (sea goddess). The mere fact that foreign languages are used could occasionally create disagreement, but modern African poetry attempts to reflects indigenous rhythms. They believed that black poetic imagination must be differentiated from the western tradition of poetry as long as the artistic philosophy of African writers is rooted in literary tradition. The artistic practices and principles shared by various Black African Societies provide the common bases for modern African poets in African descents.

Literary tradition and its legitimizing claims cultural or historical affinities. They are at best efforts of black intellectuals committed to making a claim to a unifying black literary heritage. Femi Ojo Ade’s sustained scholarly preoccupation with constructing a black literary tradition as evident in Colour and Culture in literature (1984).

Young black intellectuals followed these tradition and read the principal works of their exponents which gave a powerful to criticise western society and culture to reappraise political and social frame work of the colonial relationship and the moral and spiritual value of the culture of their colonial masters.

The efforts of the emergent tradition is remarkable in the sense that it generated the enduring problematic in African critical practice, all of which is associated with the task of clarifying the African literary identity. Literary tradition in African writing was first empowered by the anxiety of writers like Toban lo Liyong who detected discrepancies in literary productivity in various parts of the continent it was flowed by the arbitrariness of the criteria adopted. For instance, West African poetic tradition, considering the diversity of her people and the forms of colonialism experienced in the region. Each of the two sub traditions in West African poetry, the Anglophone and the Francophone is a product of a unique colonial experience. This is largely responsible for reinforcing received assumptions with regard to the Canon of African poetry, as representative poets are often identified in each case, especially when such studies are incorporated into comprehensive surveys of the literature of the region concerned because such works are significant both for the writers they recognised and that which is excluded because the pattern accounts for the recognition of certain poets as representing the literary achievement of a region.

This research work of emergent tradition and the African poetry, will be represented by using Tanure Ojaide’s selected poems of “The Fate of Vultures” and “The endless song” and other poems” like “The music of pain” and “For my Love”.

In Ojaide’s poetry is writings or works are based on his experience during his period or his time, which is part of one of the importance of emergent tradition and African poetry. It also implies that the poet takes the responsibility of using his work to create awareness of socio political crisis. It also goes beyond this to provide alternative political practice that allows for equality, justice and protection for all. In his poem The music of pain he talked about the military class for its coercion, corruption, lawlessness, injustice and class segregation. These key problems are revealed through his specific poetic devices. Ojaide’s pattern of literary writings portrays him as a poet of African poetry whose works are based on what is happening in his environment.

Purpose of Study

The purpose of study of the research work is to take a closer look at literary traditions of the emergent writers in the context of African literature, recent creative works show evidence of innovation and reinvention from the aesthetic traditions he inherited from the aesthetic traditions he inherited from the dominant writers and also partially from the residual writers. In this research work a close look will be given to Tanure Ojaide’s work by believe looking at some of his poems like “The Fate of Vultures”, and “The music of pain”, The Endless song”, and For my Love” These poems are due to the poet’s experience during his period or his time which is one of the importance of literary tradition in African poetry. It is believed that no writer writes in a vacuum but according to the goings-on at a particular period.

This study will examine his selected poems will be used as some kinds of record of the changes and the growth of emergent tradition in African poetry as his works are used to expose or create awareness of socio political crisis and the political instability in his country (Nigeria) to be precise. For example in his poem “The music of pain”, he talked about the military class segregation, these key problems are revealed through specific poetic devices. These workcentre mostly on the clarion call for all, so that there will be equality and political justice in the society or the country. This research work will show how the poet has demonstrated himself as the mouth piece of the masses through his works.

Scope of the Study

This research work will start by giving a general introduction of what “emergent traditions and African poetry” is, and how they go along together under the theory of literary tradition. Four of his poems will be considered in this research work for us not to go outside the topic or things that are not relevant in this research work. “The fate of vultures”, “The music of pain”, “The endless song” and “For my house” are the poems to be considered in this research study.

The chapter two centers on the literature review of emergent tradition and African poetry. It will also centre on facts from works already done in relation to this research topic after which there will be a data analysis of the two selection of poems applied for this research work which are, The fate of vulture and other poems and Endless song and other poems. These analysis will be in chapter three and four under the topic emergent writer and social issues and Emergent writers and the question of tradition respectively.

Justification of the Study

This study will examine the ideas and the themes in Ojaide’s poetry. What is African in his poetry and look at literary tradition from his perspectives, his feelings and his experience during his own period as it does not only touches him but other poets who believed in his ideology that no literary work is written in vacuum and set for himself and writer who is concerned about the political and social – ills in his environment.


The sociological approach will be adopted in the analysis of Ojaide’s selected poems. The sociological of Ojaide’s selected poems. The sociological theory is interested in understanding the social milieu and the extent and manner in which artists responds to it. This theory is also interested in understanding the cultural relationship of the people. This theory believe that in any society we have two dominant classes which are proletariat and the bourgeoisies that is, the upper class and the middle class, it also preach about humanism with reference to Maxwell Adereth (1960) who said that “Literature does more than mirror of the world”. Since it actively intervenes in other to change the society.

Ojaide’s poems talks about how literature is also recognised as a weapon for social change and this is also the same idea of some emergent writers like Niyi Osundare, Kofi Anyidoho of Ghana, Femi Osorisan and Tanure Ojaide. All these poets believed that literature is a means of how writer expressed their innermost feelings and mind.

Structure of Thesis

This research work will have five chapters, chapter one, which is the introduction, purpose of the study, scope of the study, justification, methodology and structure of thesis.

Chapter two will be literature review, it will examine relevant works on Tanure Ojaide’s selected poems that will be used in this research study. Chapter three, with the title “Emergent tradition and African poetry using Ojaide’s selected poems”, it will consist of textual analysis under the topic The emergent writers and social issues in chapter three examples from Ojaide’s poems which are “The Fate of Vultures and “The music of pain”. The chapter four will centre on the analysis of the other two poems under the topic Emergent writers and the question of tradition a study of the “Endless Song” and “For my Love”. The chapter Five will be The Conclusion, the research draws on the facts generated from the analysis of the prominent themes of the project.

In my own opinion, I suggest that whenever creativity calls for smart conniving, in order to service and avoid prosecution and yet be transparent enough to register his message. Ojaide engages metaphors, images, linguistic and semantic manipulative, and legends from folklores and history to speak his thoughts, make his points and depict topical conditions mostly human.

Chapter Five


The analysis of this research work has proved Tanure Ojaide as an emergent writer and a poet of Africa poetry. His poems summarizes his (Ojaide) poetic mission to “speak the truth” about “ourselves “without interpreters or middlemen. An individual is sometimes best defined by the cultural personality he or she portrays, so also does a writer’s work Portrays his cultural personality. This is the portrait that imprints itself on the creative landscapes of Tenure Ojaide’s poetry and perhaps he is one of the most important voices in the generation of young African writers following the aesthetic traditions he inherited from the older poets on dominant poets and came out with some new forms. His poem recalls the pioneering image of Greece in the forefront of intellectual quest, cultural awareness and practice, as the forerunner of ancient civilization.

The modern poet appears to believe in personal elements in poetry which widen to embrace every aspect of man’s life. He believes the truth must rear the platform for the beauty and freshness of his work. He acts not only as a writer but as a member of the society. He is not speaking as an outsider but in a filial connection to politics. He clinches his theme to political corruptions. In the poem “The Fate of vultures” There are images of illegitimate high living on the part of the corrupted politicians. The implores his mentor “Aridon” (the god of memory) to Rain hot imprecations that “blaze an ash-trail to the hands” of the mischievous vagabonds.

We assumed that Ojaide has adopted the moralist approach in his two collections of poetry (“The fate of vultures” and Endless song”) which is used in the study of this research work. He is irritated with the politicians who are only interested in telling lies because of monetary rewards. He is also irritated in terms of the collapse of moral values.


The 1989 and 1990 collection of poems, which are the “The Endless song and The Fate of Vultures respectively. Each title captures a metaphoric air and in his poetry he sustains the cultural and political wounds of history. The metaphoric implications speak the silent volumes of the messages in the collections of these poems. Without any doubt, the mission Ojaide has set for himself as a writer who is concerned about the socio-political situation in his country. He affirms that change is not possible until it is worked for. If he therefore “uses curses, damnations and uncompromising, combatant, linguistic weapons to assail social nemesis” (Olafioye 96-97) it is an agreement with the responsibility placed on him by his electing to write. He raises awareness about the malaise in his society, exposes the vultures and equips the mass of the people with the necessary ingredients to resist these vultures.


Emergent writers worked independently although, they shared a common goal that, there is essence for every literary work, that the idea of a literary work is based on the indepth and surface meaning of the work.

This research work has highlighted the idea of the emergent writers and their role in African poetry. We have also looked at the Emergent concept from Ojaide’s perspective emphasizing on his realistic ideology, his vehemence, optimism and his use of literature as a powerful weapon.

This work is believed to have added information to those already recorded concerning emergent tradition and African poetry. We tried to show that the poetries studied in this research work are African poem in relation to the literary tradition. Both the idealists and realists alike can be used as a record into the happening, changes and growth of African poetry.

Above all we also emphasizes that, where Emergent tradition and African poetry is concerned, there is more to a theme than mere words.

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