Binary, Bipartite Motifs and Counter-Hegemonic Strategies in Tanure Ojaide’s The Activist
Keywords:Binary, Bi-partite, Exploiters, Niger Delta, Multinational Oil Companies
Language use is central to Tanure Ojaide’s The Activist, negotiating a better living environment for the people of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Most literary essays on this text, however, overlook Ojaide’s deployment of language to achieve his subversive vision. The text has been interpreted as environmentalism colored by an ideology or artistic documentation of the despoiled ecosystem, its effects on humans, the flora and fauna of the Niger Delta, and the consequential eco-activism. Another read of the text, however, reveals a binary relationship of dominance and subversion in which language is significant to both sides of the intercourse. The existence of dominance and resistance, therefore, necessitates the analysis of the text drawing from the Subaltern theory, an aspect of the Postcolonial theory to which dominance and resistance are central. This essay examines the deployment of language as a hegemonic and subversive tool in the oil politics in the Niger Delta. The binary relationship is couched in bi-partite motifs captured in epithets and contrasting images. In the binary, the multinational oil companies operating in the Niger Delta yoked with the Nigerian military government, are juxtaposed with the people and the Niger Delta as oppressors and the oppressed. Through bipartite motifs that abound in the text, Ojaide concretizes the duality in the Nigerian society vis-a-vis the oil politics in the Niger Delta. In the duality, language is reinvented and mobilized significantly by both sides as a tool for demonizing and excluding each other to enable the subjugation or subversion of the other.
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