‘The Monstrous Anger of the Guns’: Critical Commentary on the War Poems of Gabriel Okara

Document Type


Publication Date



Throughout the Biafran War of Independence from Nigeria (1967-1970), Gabriel Okara remained a committed Biafran. But he was neither an iconoclastic secessionist (determined to wantonly wreck any well-founded order, including the subaltern state of Nigeria) nor a romantic revolutionary (dreaming of a postcolonial African utopia rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the failed postcolonial state of Nigeria), he was a Biafran at a higher level of philosophical and humanist reasoning as eloquently argued throughout his war lyrics discussed in the present paper, whose themes include: commitment, nationalism and pacifism as they pertain to his Biafran experience; modern warfare and the deleterious effects of weapons of mass destruction; death and human suffering in time of war); displacement, separation and exile; hunger, starvation and disease of malnutrition; the social and psychological wounds of war; the interface between religious faith and existentialist anguish; bystander apathy and the indifference of the global community; and the toll of questionable international humanitarianism, dehumanizing interventions and neo-colonialist conspiracies.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.