Emergent tradition and the african poetry, a case study of tanure ojaide’s the “fate of vultures” and “endless song”

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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.





Table of Content




Purpose of study

Scope of the study

Justification of the study


Structure of Thesis


Literature Review


Emergent writers and social issues, examples from Ojaide’s

“The Fate of Vultures” and “The music of pain”


Emergent writers and the Question of tradition, A study of

“The Endless song” in Ojaide’s poetry







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.


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 work centre

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.


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.


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.


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.

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