1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Tanure Ojaide is a well known personality in African creative writing. A literary critic and prolific writer, Ojaide has published scores of poems and critical works amongst which are: Children of Iroko and Other Poems, Labyrinths of the Delta, When It No Longer Matters Where You Live and Other Poems, The Fate of Vultures and Endless Songs. The collection under study, Delta Blues and Homesongs focuses on the Niger Delta. In this work, Ojaide portrays the physical disintegration and the rot evident in the environment, society and in the lives of the people. As a poet from the Niger Delta region, he expresses his concern for the environment destroyed by oil spillage and continuous gas flaring which pollute the rivers and affect farmlands. He blames the military government and corrupt leaders for this, and emphasizes the idea that human rights struggle is imperative in seeking to restore the people’s well-being. In his poetry and critical texts, Okome notes that Ojaide has “consistently maintained this position, allowing us a glimpse into his belief that in fact”, and according to Ojaide, all “African writers are negritudinist in one way or the other” (Okome 5). He lives up to this as he uses these reference items in his writings to form part of his rhetorical resources which contribute to the overall meaning of his poems.
1.2 BIOGRAPHY OF TANURE OJAIDE
Tanure Ojaide was born to Urhobo parents from Okpara Inland in Agbon Kingdom of Delta State. He attended the secondary school at Obinomba and Federal Government College, Warri, before proceeding to the University of Ibadan for his degree program in English. He attended Syracuse University for his M.A. in Creative Writing and PhD in English. He later taught at the University of Maiduguri before his appointment as Professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has been a visiting scholar and has taught at several universities across the world including Delta State University, Abraka and Kwara State University, Malete. His poetry is widely read and he is known for the infusion of Urhobo folklore and Udje aesthetics in his poetry.
Ojaide has won major national and international poetry awards, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the Africa region (1987), the BBC Arts and Africa Poetry Award (1988), the All-Africa Okigbo Prize for Poetry (1988 and 1997), the Association of Nigerian Authors' Poetry Prize (1988, 1994, 2003 and 2011) and the Fonlon-Nichols Award. In 2016, Ojaide won the Nigerian National Order of Merit award, the apex and the most important award for scholastic excellence in Nigeria. In 2017, his poetry collection, Songs of Myself, was the second runner-up in the NLNG Prize for Literature.Three conferences have also been convened in his honour. The most recent one was held between the 2nd to 5 May 2018 at the University of Port Harcourt.
1.3 POEMS OF TANURE OJAIDE
Ø The Questioner (Ibadan: Kraft Books, 2018)
Ø Songs of Myself: A Quartet (Ibadan: Kraft Books, 2015)
Ø Love Gifts (Lagos: African Heritage Press, 2013)
Ø The Beauty I Have Seen (Lagos: Malthouse, 2010)
Ø Waiting for the Hatching of a Cockerel (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2008)
Ø The Tale of the Harmattan (Cape Town: Kwela Books, 2007)
Ø In the House of Words (Lagos: Malthouse Press Ltd, 2005)
Ø I Want to Dance and Other Poems (San Francisco: African Heritage Press, 2003)
Ø In the Kingdom of Songs (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2002).
Ø Invoking the Warrior Spirit: New and Selected Poems (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2000).
Ø When It No Longer Matters Where You Live (Calabar, Nig.: University of Calabar Press, 1999).
Ø Invoking the Warrior Spirit (Ibadan: Heinemann, 1999).
Ø Delta Blues and Home Songs (Ibadan: Kraft Books, 1998).
Ø Daydream of Ants (Lagos: Malthouse, 1997).
Ø The Blood of Peace (Oxford, UK: Heinemann, 1991).
Ø The Fate of Vultures (Lagos: Malthouse, 1990).
Ø Poems (Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Poetry International, 1988).
Ø The Endless Song (Lagos: Malthouse, 1988).
Ø The Eagle's Vision (Detroit: Lotus, 1987).
Ø Labyrinths of the Delta (New York: Greenfield Review Press, 1986).
Ø Children of Iroko & Other Poems (New York: Greenfield Review Press, 1973).
1.4 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The main aim of the study is examine the symbolism in the poems of Tanure Ojaide.The study will try to look at how object, individuals, and other things are presented in Tanure Ojaide’s poems.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study on the symbolism in the poems of Tanure Ojaide will consider the Tanure Ojaide’s poem: the fate of vultures, Invoking the Warrior Spirit and The Blood of Peace. The consideration of these works is because the writers can raise a significant symbolism of the characters in the Tanure Ojaide’s poem.