The Depiction of Insecurity and Militarization of Society Against Global Democratic Norm: A Post-colonialist Appraisal of Tanure Ojaide’s The Activist by
Ode John Iyanya
Some countries are colonized by others. This has bred a fusion or a total altering of the culture, values and psychic of the colonized. The concept of Post-Coloniality therefore refers to the behavior in reaction to this relationship and the resultant aftermath in all aspects of the people’s lives after the period of colonization. Speaking about post-colonialty, Shija posits that: “Although flag-independence had been granted to the colonized territories, most critics believe the stigma of colonialism and its attendant conflicts were still in force” (2). Colonialism has consequences which are examined in the theory of post-coloniality.
We use the term post-colonialism or post-coloniality to mean all the perspectives, the ideologies and the whole gamut of thinking and value appraisal occasioned by the act of colonialism. Graham Huggan, opines that:” Post-colonialism and post-coloniality are inextricably interconnected. The first mentioned refers to localized agencies of resistance and the second to a global condition of cross cultural symbolic exchange” (ix). In agreement with this position, Kerstin W. Shands says: “Post-coloniality should be seen as a time period and condition marked by the challenges of difficult change and complicated continuity within an unpredictable mix of pre-, anti-, post-, and neo-colonial elements” (87). It is a very well known fact that African continent has had its fair share of colonialism. Many African writers have reflected these realities in their literary works. Examples include: Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savanna, Wole Soyinka’s The Interpreters Ayi kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s Petals of Blood, Tanure Ojaide’s The Activist and so many others.
The Activist showcases the plight of the downtrodden and marginalized people in the Niger Delta – and Nigeria by extension. Also, the novel reveals the destruction done to the Nigerian environment by the multinationals in partnership with the political class. The protagonist, The Activist, is a returnee who attempts to fight these ills in his own way while the forces of exploitation and oppression are the Bell Oil Company and the Federal Military Government as well a great number of corrupt members of traditional Council who oppress and exploit the people of their natural endowed resources. Through education, Dennis is to overthrow the multinationals in their exploitation but he does not succeed.
Tanure Ojaide creatively depicts insecurity and militarization of the society in The Activist through characterization, setting, and language. In complex narrative using the major events and some other time names of the major characters as chapter headings, the author picturesquely reconstructs the plight of the masses in Niger Delta. In the text, evidence abound of the minority ruling elite in Niger Delta as a representation of Nigeria as a residue of our colonial experience who behave not as servants but conquerors of the national treasures.
As Shija asserts:
The same disruptive tendencies of the white colonial masters
in Africa have been translated to the black ruling elite, who through affiliation with neo –colonial agents in the West, have brought transformations on the social and political structures that are more exploitative of their compatriots (6).
In the third person narrative voice, the narrator or the author tells of how The Activist has gone to the United States to study “…because of the massacre of his people by soldiers and mobile police working at the behest of the military government and the major oil company” (27). The question is why were there massacres and the resultant police state in The Activist’s community? We are made to understand that the complaints of the people which...
Cited: Huggan, Graham. The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins. New York:
University of Minnesota press, 1979.
Ojaide, Tanure. The Activist. Lagos: Farafina, 2006
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