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Not My Business Look at and think about the context of the poem

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1 Not My Business Look at and think about the context of the poem
Make notes on the context and the poet Look at the meaning of the poem as a whole

2 Where is Nigeria? Population is over 90 million
Nigeria lies between the equator and the Tropic of Cancer. Therefore, its average temperatures are between 12°C and 40°C There are 250 different ethnic groups who suffer from the same ethnic tensions as anywhere else in the world

3 So what was Nigeria in the 1990’s like for someone like Niyi Osundare?
In 1993, the Nigerian military annulled a free and fair general election and seized control of the government. So what was Nigeria in the 1990’s like for someone like Niyi Osundare? Two young men plead for mercy on a Lagos street following the Coup. From that time until recently, Gen. Sani Abacha, the regime's leader, ruled Nigeria. He was a cruel dictator.

4 Life under Abacha Child Soldiers Military on the streets
Allegedly provided military support and security for Royal Dutch/Shell's environmentally destructive oil operations in Nigeria. Child Soldiers Imprisoned 7,000 people without charge. Treason was easy to commit Imprisoned the winner of the 1993 election and several journalists. Executed anti-Shell activist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others in 1995.

5 Niyi Osundare, Poetry and Nigeria
Niyi Osundare, who was born in Nigeria in 1947 and is currently a professor of English literature at the university of New Orleans, is considered the greatest living Nigerian poet. The Nigerian government has a reputation for harsh and unjust treatment of its opponents of which Niyi was one. Yoruba was the region that Osundare lived in. It is is the South-West of Nigeria

6 Niyi Osundare, Poetry and Nigeria
The Yoruba believe that a Word is extremely useful but also extremely risky. You have to think before you speak. The moment you utter a Word is like breaking an egg. You can’t put the pieces of an egg back together again It is a sentiment the Nigerian government under the dictatorship of general Abacha wholeheartedly agreed with. In the Abacha years, writing poetry was considered a dangerous activity, as Osundare found out himself.

7 Niyi Osundare, Poetry and Nigeria
With the kind of poetry I write, I can never be the dictator’s friend. So I got a knock on the door at two in the morning a couple of times. A couple of my students at the university of Ibadan had become informers; a few even came to my class wired. And when I was reading abroad, someone trailed me from city to city. At home, my letters were frequently being intercepted. Osundare has written on the execution, in 1995, of the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, and the unlawful imprisonment of journalists. Subsequently he was visited by security agents and asked to explain the phrases in his poetry.

8 Niyi Osundare, Poetry and Nigeria
‘I survived all those dictators by hiding behind my words. I used animal images, the hyena representing the dictator, for instance, and the antelope the people.’ There is also no choice for the African poet or writer but to be political You cannot keep quiet about the situation… in Africa. When you wake up and there is no running water… no food on the table, no hospital for the sick, no peace of mind; when the image of the ruler you see everywhere is that of a dictator with a gun in his hand… then there is no other way than to write about this, in an attempt to change the situation for the better

9 Poetry and Literature in Africa
In the West, art has become entertainment, mostly. In Africa people see art as a weapon in the battle for liberation. The writer in modern Africa is treated like the priest and warrior in traditional society. We see poetry as entertainment but traditionally it is a voice to oppose the bad and celebrate the good in the world.

10 Now read the poem What is it about?
In each of the first three stanzas lines 1-4 tell a story. In pairs: summarise in your books what has happened to Akanni, Danladi and Chinwe

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