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Scholarship and commitment: Essays in honour of G. G. Darah



Edited by Sunny Awhefeada, Enajite Ojaruega and Peter Omoko, Scholarship and Commitment: Essays in Honour of G. G. Darah is a 503-paged festschrift published by the Lagos-based Malthouse in 2018, to celebrate the robust personality of the internationally acclaimed Professor of Oral Literature and Folklore, Godini Gabriel Darah, who clocked seventy (70) in November, 2017.

The book is woven into six sections, comprising of forty three essays that foreground varying themes to create an interdisciplinary outlook between the humanities and other disciplines.

The first section, “Introduction and Tributes”, consists of six essays which give biographical narratives that serve as background statements.


Though two essays in this section do not literally revolve around Darah, they nonetheless capture the idea of social commitment which is Darah’s intellectual trademark.

In “G. G. Darah, the Quintessential Scholar”, Sunny Awhefeada and Peter Omoko give an encrypted biography of Darah, highlighting his eclectic personality.

The essay accounts for the Darah’s achievements as a renowned academic, journalist, politician, environmental, cultural and political activist.

In “The Tasks and Thrills of Minstrelsy: Reflections of a Poet”, Tanure Ojaide, a renowned poet and professor, lauds Darah’s pioneering efforts in the Udje art, which later inspired much of his (Ojaide’s) scholarly exploration and poetic imagination of Udje experiences and canvas. Mabel Evwierhoma’s “Godini Darah: Literature and Limitless Commitment” reveals the diverse domains of human endeavours that characterize Darah’s intellectual inquiries and his Marxist ideological leaning aimed at human liberation. Evwierhoma examines the “life of Darah and his seamless commitment” (15).

However, in Odia Ofeimun’s “Abiola Irele: A Tribute to the Master”, the primary subject of celebration changes. This, nonetheless, is a necessary disconnection, meant to unfold the limitless scholarship, ideological and political leaning that characterized the research trajectory of Professor Irele, which is also the hallmark of Darah’s intellectual trail.

Similarly, Sunny Awhefeada’s “Isidore Okpewho: A Portrait of a Scholar as an Artist”, celebrates the creative and critical productions of Okpewho as a committed scholar.

The exaltation of these scholars (Darah’s kindred) is imperative since they occupy a significant space in Darah’s evolvement as a colossus.

This celebratory tone is encapsulated by Ovie-Jack Matilda Eyituoyo, who metaphorically uses the positive characteristic traits of the revered eagle, to illustrate Darah’s sense of direction, vitality, foresight, bravery, courage, strength, mentoring spirit and his quest for social justice.

The second section, “Oral Literature, the New Media, Cultural Studies and Artistic Expression”, consists of five essays. Oluwole Coker uses forty Yoruba witty expressions, proverbs and wise sayings to investigate the prominence of legal tenets in Yoruba folklore against the backdrop of traditional and modern judicial system.

Remy Oriaku examines the interplay of fantasies and facts, silences, ironies and contradictions in autobiographical narratives, drawing examples from three Ogoni self-narratives.

Henry Unuajohwofia’s discussion of the intermixture of fantasy and realism in the performance of Princess Oyeghe, Philomena Ufuafo’s discussion of the Urhobo concept of Akpo in the visual arts of Bruce Onobrakpeya, Akpbome Diffre-Odiete celebration Darah’s cultural activism and Mathias Iroro Orhero examination of folkloric elements and Udje metaphors in Ojaide’s poetry are worthy efforts.

The third section, “The African woman, Identity and Contemporary Realities”, comprises four essays which explore the interface of literature and gender discourse. Felicia Ohwovoriole examines the realistic depiction of patriarchal experiences in selected works of Nigerian female writers.

Similarly, Enajite Eseoghene Ojaruega evaluates selected African female texts, revealing the psychosocial burdens elicited by patriarchal oppression.

While Peter Omoko investigates the influence of modernity on women’s rebelliousness in oral poetry, leading to unhappy marital space, Joy Aruoture Omoru foregrounds the heroic characterization of women in Urhobo festival performances, prioritizing such projection as a balanced gender narrative.

The fourth section, “Literary Theories, Inter-textuality and Criticism”, consists of nine essays. Tony Afejuku advocates the need for indigenous African theoretical yardsticks, for promoting African literature by home-grown critics.

James Tar Tsaalor recommends an alternative ideological and aesthetic model, of Marxist temperament, for radical social rejuvenation in Nigeria.

Sunny Awhefeada shows that Olu Obafemi constantly engages with the past, in his poetry, Illumination, to charge the downtrodden for radical socioeconomic salvation.

Peter Omoko x-rays the socialist commitment of selected Niger Delta playwrights in their quest to re-order the faulty Nigerian sociopolitical design in line with natural justice.

Yomi Olusegun-Joseph reveals the thematic and aesthetic strength of Akeem Lasisi’s Night of My Flight, underlining the social and artistic significance of new Nigerian writings.

Azeez Akinwumi Sesan investigates Niyi Osundare’s appropriation of native Yoruba oratory with modern European techniques of expression, to create a hybrid consciousness in his poetry. Clement Eloghosa Odia does an encrypted review of Tony Afejuku poetry, highlighting its thematic and aesthetic peculiarities. Oghenekaro Ilolo investigates revolutionary tenor in Nduka Otiono’s and Ebi Yeibo’s poetry.

Emmanuel Ikomi exposes us to the inherent alternation in the narrative of selected works of Ngugi wa Thiong’o, showing the interplay of realism and fantasy, orality and literacy in their narrative pulsation.

The fifth part, “Popular Literature, Politics and Minority Discourses”, consists of seven essays. Macaulay Mowarin reveals that popular music expands discursive space and is engaged in solving socio-political problems in Nigeria.

Similarly, Kehinde Ayoola’s discourse analysis of “The Kaiama Declaration”, establishes the tenor of injustice faced by the Niger Delta at the hands of the Federal forces and the transnational oil companies.

While Arugha Aboyowa Ogisi views hotels and night clubs as necessary performance context for developing popular music in Nigeria, Abiodun Adeniji investigates the literary dimensions of Fuji songs, privileging its thematic and aesthetic significance.

Stephen Kekeghe, however, shows the appropriation of schizophrenic psychosis as a satiric strategy by Nigerian playwrights. Monday Akpojisheri’s exploration of the relationship between characters’ names and the roles imposed on them and Mark Ogbinaka’s discussion of the novelist’s role in nation building are notable efforts.

The sixth section, “Linguistics, Language, Literature and Cultural Aesthetics”, comprises eleven essays. Rose Oro Aziza reveals that faulty government policies in collaboration with the effects of ICT and globalization threaten the health of Nigerian indigenous Languages.

Ailende Ativie and Karoh Ativie’s illustrate that literary study will benefit tremendously from in-depth knowledge of linguistic analysis. Odirin Victor Abonyi sees the Nigerian Pidgin (NP) as a possible panacea to the national language question in Nigeria.

Emmanuel Emama and Richard Maledo reveal the significance of pragmatic competence in a second language situation.

Emmanuel Mede’s application of the minimalist approach to investigate the derivation of absolute tenses in English and Urhobo, Emuobonuvie Ajiboye’s analysis of peculiar dialect of neophyte speakers of Urhobo in Delta State University, Abraka, Eyankuaire Moses Darah’s revelation of historical allusions encountered by translators of Udje song-poetry, Phillip O. Ekiugbo’s examination of lexical nominalization in the Urhobo language, Matthew Idigun Agbogun and Eyankuaire Moses Darah’s contrastive analysis of kolanut presentation in Urhoboland are remarkable efforts on language revivalism.

E. E. Ogini, Otegbale Sylvester and Kesiena Ekeugo highlight the effects of alcoholism in Alain Mabanckou’s novel, Verre Casse (2005). Finally, Martins Uze Tugbokorowei proffers ideas that would be of benefit in the stage design for the interpretation of J. P. Clark’s The Raft.

The weaving together of topical issues across boundaries, which constitute the body of this festschrift, is a critical replication of the eclectic portrait of Professor Darah, a revered intellectual whose cerebral prowess bestrides many domains of knowledge.

That this festschrift faces the burden of structural sequencing of essays based on thematic peculiarities is due largely to the wide range of issues covered in the chapters.

Scholarship and Commitment is an impressive scholarly production, as it foregrounds varying themes in contemporary humanistic and linguistic studies.

Dr Kekeghe teaches in the Department of English, College of Education, Warri.

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