Creative Panache and Social Millstone, Tanure Ojaide and the Niger Delta Polemics: Will the Cockerel Ever Hatch? By Ngozi Chuma-Udeh

Introduction      

There is a symbiotic relationship betweenthe social obligations of a writer and his creative panache and the onus for this relationship is based on two simple propositions. The first is that a writer’s concern for his contemporary society is a great source of inspiration for his art, and the second is that the creative styles of the writer hinges around his sense of social responsibility. This goes to buttress the fact that the lasting value of an author’s work is often gauged by the contemporarytemperament of his art as it relates to the epoch within which he wrote.

Suffix to say that the greater the artist’s concern for his society’s dilemma, the deeper is his understanding of permanent human characteristics, and consequently, the more lasting and universal his supplications.Based on these assumptions, this paper locates Ojaide’s poetry within that symbiotic relationship between the artist and his contemporary society. It explores the efforts of Tanure Ojaide as a town crier mediating and negotiating for the lives of his people through his poetry. It negotiates the fact that this writer’s work grows out of the socio-political schisms, devastating predicament, and harsh experiences that has characterised the Niger Delta since the discovery of oil in this part of the nation.

The Niger Delta region of Nigeria over the years has been globally in the limelight, firstly as the region or as the core or economic vertebrae of the nation, secondly, as one the most volatile areas inhabited by restless indigenes clamouring for the improvement of their socio-economic status quo. Nigeria as a nation has become almost completely economically dependent on petroleum extraction in the Niger Delta. Yet, despite the vast wealth created by petroleum, the benefits have been slow to trickle down to the majority of the population, who since the 1960s have increasingly been forced to abandon their land and traditional agricultural practices.

The region reeks of quagmire and despondency due to lack of basic social amenities, including electricity, good roads, potable water, and infrastructure. The youths grow up in this wanton disillusionment of environmental disasters and paucity caused primarily by oil exploration. The oil companies engineered by the raw greed to make best use of the exploration amplify drilling and production without putting in place appropriate measures to avert or handle accidents in case of eventualities. They were even less concerned about putting in place measures to assist the members of the host community whose sources and standards of living have been dastardly destroyed. The indigenes were therefore not only deprived of their economic independence, but also laden as well with multiplicity of health hazards.

This has necessitated the arousal of series of debilitating conflict in the NigerDelta since the early 1990s over tensions between the foreign oil corporations and a number of the Niger Delta’s ethnic groups who felt exploited and neglected. Communal and political unrest have continued throughout the 1990s and persists despite the conversion to democracy and the election of civilian government since 1999. The devastating impact of the oil industry on health and livelihoods in the Niger Delta is unimaginable. Frequent oil spills are a serious problem in the Niger Delta. The failure of the oil companies and regulators to deal with them swiftly and the lack of effective clean up greatly exacerbates the human rights and environmental impacts of such spills. It is within this quagmire that Ojaide’s poetry is located; it is against this irresponsible and irresponsive Federal government and their multinational oil collaborators that his poetic anger is enkindled. It is against this background of ruins, devastation, and dreadful conditions of his society that his poetry thrives as a counteractive and psychotherapeutic overture anticipating a   turnaround of his people’s forlorn fate.

It is pertinent to point out that Nigeria become Africa’s biggest producer of petroleum courtesy of the Niger Delta. Some 2 million barrels (320,000 m3) a day are extracted in the Niger Delta. First oil operations in the region originated in 1950s and were undertaken by Multinational Corporations, which provided Nigeria with necessary technological and financial resources to extract oil.Since 1975, the region has accounted for more than 75% of Nigeria’s export earnings.

Altogether, oil and natural gas extraction comprise “97 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange revenues. (16)” The most hazardous to the health of the Niger Delta indigenes is that much of the natural gas extracted in oil wells in the Niger Delta is immediately burned, or flared, into the air at a rate of approximately 70 million m³per day. This is equivalent to 41% of African natural gas consumption, and forms the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. In 2003, about 99% of excess gas was flared in the Niger Delta, although this value has fallen to 11% in 2010. (See also, gas-flaring volumes). The biggest gas flaring company is the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd, a joint venture that is majority owned by the Nigerian government. In Nigeria, “…despite regulations introduced 20 years ago to outlaw the practice, most associated gas is flared, causing local pollution and contributing to climate change.” The environmental devastation associated with the industry and the lack of distribution of oil wealth has been the source and/or key aggravating factors of numerous environmental movements and inter-ethnic conflicts in the region.

 Al Gedicks succinctly sums up the ongoing condition of the regions where natural resources are being exploited:

The close connection between native peoples and their land has made them particularly vulnerable to change in their ecosystems. Because of their direct dependence on the earth for subsistence, they suffer more acutely than others do when toxic materials pollute their lands. In the cases of oil extraction in the Niger-Delta of Nigeria, the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador and the Colombian cloud forest, there is an inseparable connection between the assault on the environment and the assault on human rights. In all of these cases, multinational oil companies have not only degraded the environment but colluded with the government of these countries to deny native people their basic political and civil rights to resist environmental damage that threatens their subsistence and their very survival (41).

In this background of pessimism about the government, economic stagnation and hopelessness, unmitigated violent conflict and political fragmentation, and in his attempt to re-establish some sort of order and remedy to his tumultuous contemporary society,Tanure Ojaide’s poetry fostered as a powerfully unchanging textual indictment and evidence of the habitual cannibalisation and desecration of the Niger Delta.

Ordinarily, therefore, in line with the symbiotic relationship between the artist and his contemporary society, Tanure Ojaide uses his poetry to negotiatethe pathetic plight of his impoverished oppressed, exploited, marginalized, and abused people in a bid to attract attention, proffer an alternative vision and have the perpetrators held responsible for their injustices. He raises a numbers of political questions, provoked a multitude of socio-economic responses, and offered clear insight into the intrigues and tyranny militating against the Niger Delta people.The nagging questions pursued by this discourse are;to what extent could the poet succeed in his redemptive task? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for these people? Will the situation in the Niger Delta ever be remedied? Will life ever return to normalcy for these communities that are, paradoxically, so affluent yet so deprived, so uncommonly endowed, yet so bedevilled, so gifted, yet so economically disabled?

 Will this cockerel ever hatch?

Over the years, oil exploration and exploitation in the Niger Delta have assumed frightening dimensions. It has left along its dark trails the insignia of abject poverty, maladies, diseases, high mortality rate, extinction of the ecosystem, loss of means of livelihood due to emission of greenhouse gasses and oil spills. The resultant effect is wide spread confrontations, uncontrollable aggression, agitations, dangerous militancy and criminality by the disgruntled natives. The people point accusing fingers at the government. It is the general conviction that the oil companies were able to perpetrate this act of subjugation and destruction of the host communities in the Niger Delta with such audacity because of the country’s leadership systematically and brazenly averted their gaze from the dilemma of the people.

As a result, the poet’s anger rises like a billow of smoke as he unequivocally condemns the government. He equates the activities of the government to neo-colonialism or something worse. Independence for him has not been in the favour of his people. He asserts that indigenous government is worse than the colonialists: “We clubbed the pythons” of British imperialism “we believed meant evil, but / forget we were nursing cobras in our closets; / we pay for not heeding our forebears’ voices” (15). In “Daydream of Ants,”he pivots around the disheartening insensitivity of the government as foreigners plundered the very heart of his society:

The planks smelt fresh,

sardine-packaged for export

they came in rafts by water,

and left by water,

plywood obeying the rule of commerce…

When a decade later I went home

to the delta of hardwood,

a big clearing welcomed me;

no longer the unending sheet of green (30).

Typically,therefore, portraying the seriousness, intensity and the intricacies of the socio-economic conditions in the Niger Delta has been the mainstay of Tanure Ojaide’s works where it has become for this Ughelli born writer a heavy burden of the social responsibility to mediate between his people and the powers militating against their survival. The last three decades has placed on him the job of a negotiating for his people’s betterment through his poetic supplications.

 Tanure Ojaide is obviously a man burdened with the harsh realities of his people’s agony. His poetry grows out of the suffering of his people. He has a burden, the burden of social responsibility to his people, the burden of exposing the wrongs done to his people over the years. This is coupled with the arduous job of seeking for redress and above all awakening the consciousness of his people towards an assertion for their rights and total independent of mind and body. His poems reveal the state of mind of a writer whose psyche despairs for his people, whose heart is clouded with the pains of his long-suffering people. He spoke with nostalgia about the yester years when his people lived in nature’s beauty and splendours:

This share of paradise the delta of my birth

Reels from an immeasurable wound.

The inheritance I have been blessed with

Now crushes my body and soul. (Delta Blues, 21–23)

He sees himself as belonging in actual fact to a society whose life is being destroyed with wanton recklessness. His works form a compact and volatile bulk of intellectual activism geared to exposing and resisting the exasperation of the foreign oil explorers and the insensate political order. His poems are therefore an outlet for his tormented, wounded soul, which he wields as a weapon against the oppressors of his people. Poetry becomes for him an authentic instrument for enlightenment and reorientation of his people’s battered life: In “When Green Was the Lingua Franca” Ojaide, casts nostalgic eyes back the annals of history when his people had a life and a culture as he sings the blues. He reminiscent on the good old past even as he laments on the predicament of life:

My childhood stretched

one unbroken park,

teeming with life.

In the forest green was

the lingua franca

with many dialects.

Undergrowth kept as much

alive as overgrowth, the delta

alliance of big and small,

markets of needs, arena

of compensation for all(23).

G.G. Darah is of the opinion that the contradiction and fury generated by the injustice perpetuated by the Nigerian ruling class are what animates the literary and artistic output of the Niger Delta (114).

Echoing through the bulk of Ojaide’s poetry is the nagging urge to portray the angst of this region, to depict the tumultuous repressive political power structure in the Niger Delta, to agitate for the preservation of their indigenous values and thoughts that are systematically being corroded and destroyed by alien oil explores even as the successive governments watch and did nothing. In his poem,“Poetic Imagination” he stated emphatically that, the major predicamentof his people is the discovery of oil. He visualized the oil boom as the doom of the inhabitants of the Niger Delta region (122).

Like the prophet, the town crier, the messenger, the poet’s voice continues to echo and re-echo, carrying alongside the entire voices of his fateful people in this frightening depiction of the harsh realities of the condition of life in the Niger Delta region today. In “Quatrain Suite” he puts it quite succinctly:

The map of my homeland has changed.

The cartographers blot out forests and rivers.

Oil wells and flares dot the new landscape—

now nobody recognizes the beauty queen’s face.

The apiapia cries hysterically, flying over its former haunt:

“It’s another planting season and what a cheerless sight,

hardly any farmers!” They fled to be servants in the city.

Who blames bird or migrant, the soil one barren crust?

Evergreens bald, every head bowed in disgrace.

No season grows back flared or suffocated leaves

And the cycle of self-succeeding generations dies.

Green is now a scarce commodity in the rainforest (Tale, 17–18).

The poet found himself existing amidst devastating oil spill that have lasted for over five decades. He found his people struggling to live above the suffocating surf of outrageous and systematic contamination of thousands of square kilometres of areas of their land, beleaguered with the catastrophic consequences for human health and wildlife.

 He is fully aware of the fact that his people exist on perilous grounds amidst continual cases of heavy contamination of land and underground water courses by oil spillages, whose effect is estimated to last formore than forty years after an incidence of spillage. The poet laments the ever presence of death and destruction which has become the fate of his people and their land. He cries out forlornly about the decimation of his people’s means of livelihood. He witnesses the rapid dying away of their once thriving culture. The forests become barren, bereft of games and trees, the rivers and creeks becomes poisonous to both humans and the aquatic life. The fishermen losses their trade as they can no longer fish in the oil coated rivers. The contaminated rivers even become hostile to swimmers and the beauty and grandeur that once characterised the Niger Delta of the past become a mirage.  He laments in “Delta Blues”:

It is harmattan, time to prepare every hearth

to combat northeast winds, fierce warriors

Season of brush fires, kites fly overhead

in festive formations in smoke-smothered skies;

But this season’s like no other in the minstrel’s memory;

the rubber tappers are frustrated with anemic trees

suffering hardship and baldness from a neighbouring

business that devours whatever stands before it.

The exciting spirit of the harmattan is lost on us,

there’s nothing to celebrate with bonfires

because the regular visitor failed to arrive

with the good luck that follows its wake –

the swarm of generous djinns that invade us

barred from the land by free marketer of oil.

In place of heat from the log-stoked hearth,

we burn from gas flares and oil blowouts

on insomniac nights in the big compound.

we no longer swathe ourselves from cold

In one blanket, warm and inhaling body odour;

the sparkling hearth telling the tale of the

harmattan. (23–24).

The poet has witnessed bountiful seasons and his people lived in pastoral bliss until the inception of this ‘neighbouring business that devours whatever stands before it’ came about (23).He finds himself living amongst hapless communities that have been subjected to drinking water with dangerous concentrations of benzene and other pollutants.  The poet has watched Agriculture, which was his people’s mainstay grow extinct in the face of soil contamination of more than five metres deep in many areas. In “Oil Remedies,”he bemoans the fact that oil, which in its natural form is created as a soothing balm for the people, has without a doubt become the bane of the people. His cry is about the goodness of nature turned awry by the manipulations of men:

Produce of blessed palm tree, testimony

of industry of men and women; oil confers wealth.

We knew our brides by the lavish oil

that massaged their bodies to glow with allure—

Oil is the lamp we keep at the crossroads

for humans and spirits to find separate ways.

The same oil that makes every meal a feast

for the palate and completes every rich dish!

The oil we know has always been the lamp—

friend of the eyes, it fuels a bright spectacle.

Then came subsoil oil, no longer red but black,

converted by entrepreneurs into capital fuel.

This oil bleeding from the earth flowers light

and they sing hymns to fan its incandescence.

It is we who live in the dark that give out light.

they make bonfires of our blind ancestors’ gifts

After hauling away priceless pools of abundance

and leaving with us silent and roaming epidemics. (27–28).

Essentially,and most painfully, the poet has witnessed the brazen refusal of the oil companies to live up to expectations by restoring the land to its original state. He has observed with a heavy heart the apparent failure of the government to protect the Niger Delta indigenes from the onslaught of the foreign invaders. All these have generated in him series of ideologically enquiry into the fate of his people. Will there ever be salvation for these ill-fated people?  Is there any hope of findings a lasting solution to the deadlock in the region?

The turmoil in his immediate contemporary society has found its way into the writer’s psyche and has obviously become for him a divine call to bargain for his people’s life and well being through his writings.  His cry is for his people tussling in the turmoil of great social deprivation, political marginalization, and economic alienation in spite of the copious natural resources.  In “The Goat Song” Ojaide’s cry is not only for the diminutive growth and development of the people but also for the wanton destruction anddevastation of the earth’s flora and fauna so as to enrich other people and their land. He equates his people’s fate to that of a goat bleating helplessly as the tether strangled it:

The blackened stream is ancestral blood

tapped away by giant pipes into ships

to rejuvenate foreign cities, invigorate markets;

distant places lit with wonders; here, a blackout.

The big family is dying out—irokos fall; game

leave in droves, and humans flee to hunger.

Soon the whole landscape will be a cemetery

south-south of the carousing palace of the king.

The carrion lord cares not for the rot he stirs;

he pranks with consorts in the death-field—

Government and the coalition of global lords

have snatched away what ancestors sat upon (Tale, 10–11). 

The transcending aspect of Ojaide’s works is his commitment to his people’s liberty, whichhas never been compromised. All through these years, he has held tenaciously to his ethos and has refused to conciliate his stance or yield to the pressures of the powers that be.   His poems bear testimony to his ardent concern for his people as well as his apprehension for the socio-cultural and political dilemma in the Niger Delta landscape. In Delta Blueshe avers:

If I don’t open my mouth,

I will be a dumb-and-deaf

who’s unable to forewarn

after a bad dream(17).

Incidentally, he knew the danger he exposes himself to for being so vocal. He is aware of the fact that his poetry opens so many canker worms of the powers that be. Yet his concern for his society spurs him on. He is aware that his blatant poetic commitment that interrogates the federal government is risk laden, he knows that his unabashed accusations of the government as fraudulent unjust, and oppressive puts him at stiff enmity with so many overbearing powers but his sense of social responsibility overrides all. In “Delta Blues & Home Songs” he holds his poetry to be the ultimate redemptive weapon:

Let those who will plot against

me open their mouths helplessly as if buried by ripe

pepper fruit.

Their secret will spill into the street

& abort before their unbehaving eyes;

they will never reach their goal

of hurting me and celebrating a coup…

I will foil their stratagems

with a steam of songs that please my god(36).

Engraved profoundly within Tanure Ojaide’s poetic overtures are the representation of the despoliation and violation ofeverything that his people had held as sacred and indisputable. The ravaging foreigners walked against customs and trampled against the cultural life of the people live swarms of ravaging insects; they left nothing standing straight. The manifestation of this degradation is physical as his people are subjected toexisting in severely putrid and unhealthy situations.

The poet grief for his people’s fate is the cornerstone of his art. His art exposes the severe hardship of the communities of people inhabiting the oil rich area; it speaks the voices of the teeming communities who suffer unimaginable hardship even as their oil feeds the whole nation and beyond. The poet takes a strong and astute stand against his people’s tormentors who vamp the land and waters, leaving them contaminated and infertile. He prizes his poetry to be a harbinger of truth, and nothing but the truth. Pursuance of truth seems to be for him the only redemptive factor for this society languishing in stifling agony.He therefore presents a bundle of truth as the thematic preoccupation of his art.In the verse“The Diviner’s Chant,” the poet protests vehemently against the injustice meted out to his people:

Mask of the vain drum

Speaking through the nose

I understand you

Liars of ages

Hiding under a sleek tongue

I detect you

Robed scarecrow

Parading for a beauty

I detest you

Teeth of the vicious

Flashing stolen pearls

I smell your stink

Hand holding the hilt

You will vanquish with blades

But will die of a bloodless conscience

Robber baron

Championing charities

I see the stakes to which you will be tied

Workers will chase out drones

The world evacuates its dross

Let it not clog our front! (55) .

          He therefore uses his work to urge his people to carve out a space for themselves, to assert their rights and fight for their land. He is unhappy about the physical decimation of his people. He is also bothered about the spiritual and physical repression of his people he feels sorely the denigration of his people and the nonchalant attitude of the government. Tanure Ojaide earns the title of the people’s poet because of his preoccupation with issues bothering on injustice, corruption and the segregation of his people. His utmost concern is for the salvation of his people who have been turned into the dregs of the society – the hewers of the wood and the fetchers of water in their own land. He fights for the fate of his downtrodden and deprived people ravaged by poverty and subjugated by the authorities. In “Day Dream of Ants,” he paints a gory picture of the harsh realities of life in the Niger Delta:

I beat my path through a wild lifescape

with nobody insight

Everybody has an estate

of lonely stretches

overgrown with great shrubs.

There you rehearse fantasies, overtaking

your shadow in a marathon,

knocking down the lion

that has made your resting place a den (23).

          The deep flavour of Ojaide’s poetry lies in his deep-rooted concern for the fate of the Niger Delta people. He, like his other contemporaries from the Niger Delta stands firmly on the side of the poor and the economically deprived populace. His concern is for the masses who suffer under the political exploitation, oppression, and dehumanization.

          In yet another development, Ojaide bemoans the fate of Ughelli. He cries out against the plunder and ravishment of the oil rich town. The poet sees Ughelli as a badly ravished female persona who suffers in the hands of cruel heartless men, Ughelli represents the destruction of the land and natural resources by greedy oil mongers who destroys the land and leaves the people impoverished. He writes:

          To see her dry skinned when her oil rejuvenates hags

To leave her in darkness when her fuel lights the universe.

To starve her despite all her produce

To let her dehydrated before the walls

Bore into her heart

To have her naked despite her innate industry

To keep her without roads when her

Sweat tar the outside world

homeless when her idle neighbours inhabit skyscrapers

lonely when sterile ones use her offsprings as servants (2-4).

Ughelli here is a representation of all the towns in the Niger Delta. The poem is a search into the anguished hearts of the Niger Delta citizens. it is a probe into the innermost hurt of the poet and his people. It grieves, it bemoans, it cries out against the merciless ravishing of the land. Ughelli becomes pitiably “the artisan” regarded as the lowest of human being, “as a non-person when drones celebrate with her sweat” (4–9). In this instance, he laments the fate of his people who, though they were surrounded with nature’s abundance, lived in penury. He openly blamed the authorities for the injustices meted against his people. He is the poet, saddened with the burden of his people’s trauma. In “Delta Blues and Home Songs” the poet eulogizes the plentiful resources in Niger Delta region an evidence of these wealth are echoed in the lines below:

This share of paradise,

the delta of my birth,

reels from an immeasurable wound.

Barrels of alchemical draughts flow

from this hurt to the unquestioning world…

My nativity gives immoral pain

masked in barrels of

I strew in the womb of fortune (21).

The deplorable condition of life in his area is like a hot searing iron to the poet’s soul. The money made from his home enriches others but paradoxically impoverishes his people. The sharp contrast is drawn between the living condition of the Niger Delta people and the affluent workers in the multinational companies. He refers to the oil companies as“barbarians invited to be allies” (37) he holds the trade partnership of the Nigerian government and multinational oil companies as an abuse on the rights of his people. Again in “Delta Blues” he complained bitterly:

But what of the many proud names that flaunted the flag before the world? Destroyed by barbarians invited to be allies. What of the heart that expelled dirt despite the allure of making love in mud? Sunk into a naira-bed of stench. What of deference to elders, mothers, children and the disabled of the land? Strangled by testy nerves. (37).

The poet draws attention to the inhuman treatment meted on his people. The people suffer from the trauma of environmental devastation and pollution, even as the Nigerian military dictatorship and their civilian allies in connive with the multinational companies to root them out from their ancestral homes. The poet wears the scorching cloak of his traumatized people. He speaks with the anguish voice of his people. He describes their sorrowful experiences as a “multi-tragedy” an unadulterated wickedness and exploitation of the human and natural resources.  He lays bare the pathetic destruction of their land with little or no economic compensation.  He is full of loathing for the conspiracy of the government and its allies in the vicious destruction of the Niger Delta. In “Delta Blues and Home Songs”he said: 

From the year soldiers broke out of their barracks to share the pumpkin and march in a mad frenzy, the streets felt crushed by their loaded boots. There’s never been a bright day since the first decree-only soldiers have seen a full moon all the years. Roads became a sting of potholes. Water hyacinths closed waterways for boats. (51).

Yet, again in “Delta Blues and Home Songs” the poet went on to fearlesslyinterrogate the subterfuge behind the insensate oil companies and the government of the country, which has brought untold misery to his people:

Once foragers brought home food

And robbery was sanctified by hunger,

The ban on trespassing collapsed;

The world swamped with hostility.

This started cold-headed strategies:

The bush-rat dug a dungeon

Of infinite outlets;

The tortoise stuck to a mobile phone fortress

To go through hazards of life;

Ants raised a hill

To cover their habitat of holes….

You can see what we were born into! (13)

Despite the critical condition, the poet is full of hope. He believes strongly that one day in the nearest future, the alienation of the people from their mineral resources, and their exploitation by the state will come to an end. He sees a positive light at the end of the tunnel and he believes strongly that one day, the cockerel will crow signifying the dawn of good tidings for his people.

Conclusion

So far, this discourse has sought to place Ojaide’s poetry within the interrogation of his people’s predicament. The poet however believes that there is hope for the redemption of his people. He believes that there will one day be an end to the abuse on the fundamental rights of the Niger Delta communities. He is optimistic that by using his poetry to draw awareness to the privation, degradation, impoverishing and pollution of their environment through oil spills, gas flaring, and air pollution, among other oil exploratory activities his people may once again regain their lives. 

Tanure Ojaide’s poetic opus therefore is a powerful weapon directed at restoring order to his chaotic environment. He believes in the social role of the poet to his society and his poetry is a well-expressed demonstration of the relationship between the poet and his contemporary society. His unshakable commitment to his people and society in the face of devastating hopelessness marks him out as a poet carrying the heavy burden of his people’s agony. Yet he is full of hope; hope for a new dawn when harmattan will once more regain its value and Ughelli will once again radiate in nature’s splendour. This, however, may not come easily because freedom may require serious actions from the ‘victims.’ He asserts in “The Power of Victims:

And these are the tolls of dominion:

Victims reeling with vengeance.

Cutting through stones to pathways,

Arching wide rivers with rainbows,

Launching dreams to people the moon

And clearing space for inevitable confrontation,

We straw our way with victims. (34)

Works Cited

Gedicks, Al. Resource Rebels: Native Challenges to Mining and Oil Corporations. Cambridge: South End Press, 2001. Print.

Ojaide Tanure.  Waiting for the Hatching of a Cockerel. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2008

——. The Tale of the HarmattanCape Town: Kwela Books, 2007.

——. In the House of Words. Lagos: Malthouse Press Ltd., 2005.

——. I Want to Dance and Other Poems. San Francisco: African Heritage Press, 2003.

——. In the Kingdom of Songs.Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2002.

——.  Invoking the Warrior Spirit. Ibadan: Heinemann, 1999.

——. Delta Blues and Home Songs.Ibadan: Kraft Books, 1998.

——. Daydream of Ants. Lagos: Malthouse Press Ltd., 1997.

—— The Endless Song.Lagos: Malthouse Press Ltd., 1988.

——- Labyrinths of the Delta.New York: Greenfield Review Press, 1986.

——. Children of Iroko & Other Poems.New York: Greenfield Review Press, 1973.

Simon Gikandi. Encyclopaedia of African Literature. London: Routledge, 2002.

Ngozi Chuma-Udeh

Department of English, Anambra State Universityngozichumaudeh@yahoo.com