This article, first published on authorsden.com is aimed at briefly acquainting visitors to this site of the evolutionary trends of poetry in Nigeria.
By Chidi Anthony Opara (April 11, 2008)
Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa, is a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual Nation. The country’s multi-ethnic and multi-lingual nature engenders an equally multi- cultural setting. Nigeria’s cultural diversity finds expression in the literary endeavours of her peoples, namely: poetry, prose, painting, music, sculpture, etc.
Poetry as an art form has undergone evolution from pre-colonial to colonial and then to post-colonial eras in Nigeria. Poetry in the pre-colonial era in Nigeria was unwritten. There existed a thin line between poets and musicians, who composed and rendered poetry in musical form. Poets then published their works in form of renditions at funerals, marriage ceremonies, etc. Poetry themes then consisted in praising virtues and condemning vices in the then compressed society.
The introduction of western style education in Nigeria by the colonial missionaries, radically changed the shape of poetry, this generation of Nigerian poets, having acquired western education, published their poems in book form and rendered them in radio and television stations. The themes however, centered on fighting colonialism, which was regarded as a vice.
By the end of colonialism in the early 1960s, poets in post colonial Nigeria, now exposed to sophisticated technological education, drastically changed the style and themes of poetry writing and rendition. Post- colonial era Nigerian poets now publish mainly on the web and render their poems with sophisticated audio-visual instruments.