International Journal of Arts and Humanities

Viewing Options:  View Full Article - PDF     Download Full Article - PDF

Nationhood and Environment in Ebi Yeibo’s the Forbidden Tongue and Nnimmo Bassey’s We Thought it was Oil but it was Blood

Okpapi Blessing Ekpe

Accepted 5th October, 2021



This study focuses on the dialectics of nationhood and environment in the poetry of Ebi Yeibo and Nnimmo Bassey. By focusing on the artistic features and the poets’ desire to change their society and environment, the study evaluates the elements of nationhood such as thematic preoccupations, poetic idioms, imagery, as well as the constituents of environmental despoliation in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria. Our analyses also explore the metaphors and images of environmental despoliation and their deployment in the poetics of the selected poets, highlighting the aesthetic engagement adopted by them. The examination of the predominance of images of environment degradation as well as the relationship between humans and the environment adumbrates the metaphor of change and the reversal of environmental and societal ills to a state of hope and freedom. The work concentrates on the poetry of Ebi Yeibo and Nnimmo Bassey because their work best exemplify the dialectics of nationhood and environment which this essay sets out to investigate. The paper exposes the fact that many studies on contemporary Nigerian poetry often address the thematic content of such poetry with little attention to the utility or functionality of the environment and how it articulates the question of nationhood and by extension how poetry versifies the politics of growth and national development. The study adopts the subaltern strand of the postcolonial approach to literature which entails the field of intellectual enquiry that explores and interrogates the situation of colonized peoples both during and after colonization. The postcolonial theory is well supported by the eco-critical approach to literary criticism. This is done in order to have an accurate grasp of the artistic nuances that constitute the fulcrum of the selected poetry, especially with regards to their aesthetic leaning to the environment. The paper concludes that the two authors in their poetry recognize and reaffirm the roles of Nigerian literature as an ideological and confrontational tool in achieving the social mandate of the people.


Keywords: Ebi Yeibo: the Forbidden Tongue, Nnimmo Bassey: We Thought it was Oil but it was Blood