'Clearing the Forest': Critical Commentary on Gabriel Okara’s Postwar Ode, ‘The Dreamer’

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The present essay is essentially a preliminary exploration of a previously unexplored territory of postcolonial, modernist African poetics—Gabriel Okara’s venture into the appropriation of the signs of the classical and latter-day European ode as a vehicle for both a satirical interrogation of the performance of the postcolonial civilian and military elite the dysfunctional Nigerian federation after its war against Biafra and for an understanding of the possibility of heroic regeneration in the face of the depth of , bordering on existentialist , into which the nation has been reduced by the post-civil war triumph of disorder in the hands of a succession of corrupt and visionless elite. Needless to say, several of the assumptions underlying the key statements in the essay about the modalities of Okara’s appropriation of the conventions of the ode need to be verified through further studies. So too are matters of postcolonial hybridity, in particular the extent to which Okara has engaged in aesthetic transfer from this native Ijo and proximate Igbo and other south-eastern Nigerian oral traditions into the appropriated form of the ode.



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