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This paper argues that, contrary to widespread opinion, the poetry of first generation, postcolonial, modernist Nigerian poet, Michael J. C. Echeruo, draws some of its core and defining tropes from indigenous African system of thought and symbolism. The much maligned early poem "Sophia" is subjected to line-by-line close-reading to illustrate this argument. The analysis suggests that, as a matter of fact, "Sophia" can be read as a portal to Echeruo's poetic corpus as a whole.


This paper was originally presented at the Michael Echeruo Valedictory Symposium (on “Fifty Years of African Literature and Scholarship in the Academy, 1960–2010”) organized by the Humanities Center, Syracuse University, to mark Echeruo’s retirement as the William Safire Professor of Modern Letters in the Department of English, Syracuse University, New York, October 14-16, 2010.



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