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UDE, Chiedozie: Pragmatic Analysis of Chibok Girls. GBAMLOG.COM

Literature is so significant that it can perform a lot of functions. One of such functions definitely has to be the affective function. Literature can be affective when it aims to produce certain effects on the reader. Having established this fact, it is ideal to state that this essay aims to display the affective power of literature by conducting a pragmatic analysis of the text Chibok Girls.

The text in question has its characters and setting drawn from real life; hence, it can be described as a realistic text. It contains the investigations carried out by Helon Habila in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria. The investigation revolves around the history and causes of insecurity in Nigeria. Because of the presence of the writer at strategic places that have been affected by violence instigated by the dreaded sect, Boko Haram, this text can be described as one which contains first-hand information on the prevalent issues plaguing the country.

The title of the text is significant because it captures the most notable and internationally-recognised crime perpetuated by Boko Haram — that is, the abduction of 276 school girls on the 24th April, 2014, by Boko Haram. This title, however, does not constitute the focal point of this report. Rather, it serves as an instance which illustrates the ruthlessness of the Boko Haram sect.

Insecurity, as highlighted in the text, is as a result of activities such as terrorism, bad governance, corruption, religious-instigated violence etc. All these issues no doubt are bound to have certain didactic or other forms of effects on the reader. Some of these effects include: pity, fear, anger, apathy, and the didactic lesson of early prevention.

Pity is one of the major effects this text has on the reader. This is plausible because ruthless and despicable acts of Boko Haram on harmless civilians will without doubt draw out the pity of the audience. A good example is how the mother of Riskatu, one of the abducted girls, is made to narrate the painful events of the day her daughter was kidnapped. This instance, surely, is significant because it captures the pain and suffering which the parents and the relations of the abducted girls are going through because of their ignorance on the status of their daughters — that is, are they alive or are they dead? Another object of the reader’s pity has to be the abducted girls who will now serve as wives and concubines of terrorists instead of being with their families and completing their education. Unarguably, the pragmatic effect of pity is brought to the fore through the theme of terrorism.

Another pragmatic effect the text will likely have on the audience is that of fear. Human beings are creatures who fear a lot of things, ranging from known and unknown dangers. In the case of this text, the reader’s fear is justified because of several reasons. One of these reasons has to be the reader’s in-depth knowledge of the activities of this sect, and another reason for the reader’s fear, obviously, is the fact that the reader is a Nigerian; hence, he is not completely safe from the violence caused by the nonchalance of the government towards small and large-scale criminal activities and, of course, violence instigated by religious extremism as seen in the way Yusuf, the elder brother of Shekau, was able to spur his followers to commit several atrocities, and also, through the Maitatsine Uprising, as described by Helon Habila in the text. Hence, one can be certain to say that the themes of violence, terrorism, religious extremism etc., are sure to instigate the feeling of great fear in the reader.

When talking about the pragmatic effect this text has on the reader, one is sure to mention anger. The reader is surely going to experience anger at the government because of their nonchalant attitude towards fighting crime and safeguarding the lives and property of Nigerians. This attitude is captured by Habila in the way he narrates the transition of different government and the way they have all handled insecurity with levity. The focus, however, centres on Jonathan’s regime as president because it was during his tenure that the Boko Haram sect committed their most notable atrocity — that is, the abduction of the school girls from Chibok. The security agencies are also not innocent. Habila, through his report, captures instances where soldiers decided to collect bribes instead of arresting offenders. Surely, the callousness of the government officials and military personnel will surely emit the anger of the reader.

Furthermore on the pragmatic effect this novel has on the reader is that of apathy. Apathy in this sense means disinterest. This disinterest encompasses both religious and political participation. Because of the extreme way in which the insurgents attacked churches, many Christians, especially those living in areas in the North, will, of course, find it difficult to feel safe during church service; hence, they will end up avoiding service to God. An example of Boko Haram’s ruthless way of dealing with Christians is captured by Reverend Madu’s story on how his church was attacked. Muslims themselves are not exempted from religious apathy. Habila reports stories of clerics who were killed because they spoke against the tenets of Boko Haram. All these acts of violence against religious institutions will surely make the readers feel discouraged about religion.

Still on apathy as a pragmatic effect, one can, of course, not gainsay the fact that the activities of Boko Haram has caused a lot of people to become apathetic towards politics. This is evident in that there has been no elections in Chibok for years because of the fears of an attack by the terrorists. This political apathy will surely manifest itself in the reader because they will, without doubt, contemplate their safety during elections, and this will ultimately make them sit at home instead of voting. Another cause of political apathy definitely has to be the Nigerian irresponsible government. Helon Habila does not mince words as he reports how the government both at federal and state level have played huge roles in the current malaise of insecurity plaguing the country. Knowledge of this irresponsibility on the part of the government is likely to make the reader brand everyone in politics as birds of a feather; hence, the reader will surely show nonchalance towards politics.

Finally, the didactic lesson that can be learnt from Habila’s report is that early action by the government towards the prevention of crime is the solution to insecurity in the country. Habila draws attention to this by constantly reporting or emphasising how the various governments in Nigeria have ignored the signs of an uprising until it became out of hand as seen in the Maitatsine Uprising and Boko Haram Insurgency. Because history is deemed as a great teacher, it is expected that Nigerians (both the government and the readers) should learn from past mistakes in order to avoid repeating these errors.

In conclusion, the text Chibok Girls is one which captures the realities of people living in Nigeria. It is set in Nigeria; therefore, it may be regarded as one which will have lots of pragmatic effects on Nigerian readers. Some of these effects have been discussed in this essay; thus, proving that the text Chibok Girls is one which can be defined based on its affective powers on the reader.

Ude, Chiedozie Orji.


Dear Esteemed Readers,
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For more information on this, text or call the following numbers:
1. Chiedozie Ude *09090953414*
2. Chidinma Okonkwo *08180073734*
3. Afolabi Shobowale *08183848314*
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Expressive Approach to Analysing “A Song for Ajegunle” by Niyi Osundare. Chiedozie Ude. GBAMLOG.COM

As is the case with most literary works of art, Niyi Osundare’s “A Song for Ajegunle” is a work of art which portrays realism. Realism is portrayed through the setting of the poem — that is, a place in Lagos known as Ajegunle. The place setting is reinforced or rather made known through the title of the poem. Aside from the setting which is drawn from real life, realism is also captured in the text through the way the poet vividly describes the happenings in the location. For example, his description of how so many children that should be in school are out of school aptly captures the situation of many a child in Ajegunle. Hence, one can without any iota of doubt say that this poem is, indeed, realistic.

The poem “A Song for Ajegunle” is one which captures the social, economic and political realities of Ajegunle. The poem centres on the poverty-stricken ghetto area known as Ajegunle. It contains the persona’s description of the dirt-infested and government-ignored area in the morning, evening and night. The persona does not mince words as he vividly describes Ajegunle, using a series of figurative expressions to give maximum effect to his description. Because of the indepth knowledge which the poet has of this area as exposed by the simile “curious bird”, this essay will seek to analyse the poem based on how it represents the poet’s feelings and attitude towards the subject matter.

The poet is a well-known romantic who, through his poems, has been able to promote the conservation of nature. Hence, it comes as no surprise that he bemoans the unhealthy situation of Ajegunle. Some of the issues which the poet raises in this poem include: poverty, insecurity, underdevelopment, irresponsible government, and filth etc. These issues are developed through the poet’s choice of words and of course, his use of figurative expressions.

The issue of poverty is central to this poem in that the poet does not mince words as he describes the pathetic situation of the people who live in Ajegunle. He brings this into focus by describing the smoke which comes out of their idle kitchens as pale. The phrase “idle kitchen” is apt because it depicts the lack which is inherent in this place. Niyi Osundare further comments on the issue of poverty by describing how children are unable to go to school and also how many households cannot afford decent meals — that is, the tables are without bread. Through the poet’s cacophonic choice of words such as rumble, manacling, battering etc., his unhappiness at the state of affairs is evident.

Another issue that is on top of the poet’s mind is the issue of underdevelopment. This issue is brought to the fore by Niyi Osundare through the use of contrast. In comparison to Ikoyi, Ajegunle is simply an empty bag that is sprawled. By this, Niyi Osundare, unequivocally, states the backward nature of Ajegunle in comparison to other popular areas of the state. The poet goes on to lament the deplorable housing condition of Ajegunle. To him, the poet, the houses are hovels or slightly better than hovels. He expresses his unhappiness by his repetition of the word “through” in stanza three. The repetition is significant because it serves as a medium which the poet uses to reveal how backward Ajegunle, indeed, is.

Of course, the theme of underdevelopment is related to the theme of bad governance. Niyi Osundare exposes the inability of the government to provide basic amenities for the people in Ajegunle. Niyi Osundare draws light to this by commenting on: the poor state of roads; the poor toilet facilities as exemplified by people’s penchant for defecating in the gutters; lack of good water as seen in the phrase “taps without water”; and of course, not forgetting the apparent lack of electricity which is exposed by Osundare’s nighttime description of the sweaty stupor of people sleeping in crowded mats. Through his use of different imagery such as sight, touch etc., Osundare is able to comment on the issue of bad governance.

Osundare sticks to stereotype in that this poem is in tandem with other poems written by him which talk about the environment. Due to this, it comes as no surprise that Osundare’s description is filled with visual images of filth. These images are further reinforced by the refrain which continually describes Ajegunle as a place that is sprawled. This issue of filth is one is dominant in the stanzas. Firstly, the poet describes the place as weed-infested. He goes on to address the issue of people defecating in gutters and this is unhealthy because it instigates the outbreak of water-borne viruses such as cholera. Osundare further comments on the issue of filth by drawing upon the image of smell. This is made known through the metaphor “the hooded stench of nightsoil” which further reinforces the issue of filth in the poem. Through this issue, Osundare expresses his disdain for the environmental hazards plaguing Ajegunle.

In conclusion, the poet fully utilises the expressive power of literature in this poem because he is able to shed light on several personal and national issues. In fact, this poem may be described as a poem which the poet uses to protest against the rulers of Nigeria; thereby, championing the cause of the masses.

UDE, Chiedozie Orji.

Department of English, University of Lagos.