A Stylistic Analysis of Selected Niyi Osundare’s Socio-political Poetry

A Stylistic Analysis of Selected Niyi Osundare’s Socio-political Poetry

A Stylistic Analysis of Selected Niyi Osundare’s Socio-political Poetry


Abstract of A Stylistic Analysis of Selected Niyi Osundare’s Socio-political Poetry

Language is a vital medium through which human beings express themselves. It is used by its speakers to achieve diverse purposes such as reprimanding, encouraging, admiring,         and persuading. Writers also use language to achieve their purposes and it is observed that their writings are attention catching, and thought provoking.

It is against this background that a stylistic analysis of selected socio-political poems of Niyi Osundare was conducted to discover their constituent which make them impacting and interesting. The findings in this research reveal that the language of literary composition is characterized by the use of stylistic elements such as alliterations, similes, proverbs e.t.c. and in judicious application of these elements in writing; poetry accounts for the success of their speeches and why their works are being read all over the world.


Chapter One of A Stylistic Analysis of Selected Niyi Osundare’s Socio-political Poetry


Language stands out as the only phenomenon through which human being in certain speech community successfully interact and pass across information. Certain scholars have tried to define what language is; Henry Lee Smith, (1969) sees language as: “A shared, learned, arbitrary symbol through which human beings in the same speech community or sub-culture communicates and hence interacts in terms of their common experiences and expectations.”

Odebunmi (2001, p.26) opines that “language is the rope that ties members of a speech community together in a continuing relationship”. He goes further to summit that “it is the common instrument that they draw on for socio cultural identification”. From this excerpt, language is portrayed as an inevitable phenomenon and the basis of mutual communication in man’s life. Language is glimpsed as an instrument for social identification and unity in a speech community. It is when they are able to share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas using the same language that they can have understanding which is one of the foundations of unity.

Also, Adejumobi (2009, p .9) asserts that “Language is human vocal sound, or it is the graphic representation of signs, symbols, gesticulations and signals for the purpose of communication” In this regard, Man uses language in conveying meanings and tends to display different attributes and most cases different styles. These styles therefore, determine the language habits and language use utilized by certain individuals.

This research therefore, intends to study the style used by Niyi Osundare in some of his selected socio political poems.


As it is noted in the introductory aspect, language is used by man to express his mind, views, and contributions to the society. Speech acts such as sympathy, admirations excitement, ideas, jokes, reprimands, warnings, feelings, greetings and so on, are carried out through the use of language. Brown and Yule (1983) referred to by Odebunmi (2001, p.27) have described these as transactional and interaction functions of language.

Transactional function of language simply refers to the use of language as a medium of communication, in other words, it serves as a medium of information dissemination .For instance, certain traditions, cultures and the likes have been kept into existence through the use of language. In this function, vital information about old tradition has been brought into the new generation in order for them not to go into extinction. Societal issues have also been talked over through the use of this function of language.

Odebunmi (2001, p.28) notes that:

Right from the home  when the   child is   moving  close to school age,  parents   start giving   academic  Instructions    to him or her literate  parents   especially,   use   English  to   order    the   child   around and to request some responses  which are   either supplied  verbally or through child’s reaction or obedient   to the Instruction  given, thus the child is  being   prepared in  the    school    situation where instructions are provided in the classroom through language.

Transactional function of language is portrayed as a kind of mutual interaction that serves as a background for effective communication.

On the other hand, when language is used for the purpose of establishing, boosting and sustaining relationships that exist among members of a speech community, the language function is referred to as interactional. This can also be referred to as the secondary functions of language.

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English Language in Nigeria

Nigerians had contact with English language as far back as 1553. Through colonization, the colonial masters attacked Lagos in 1861, they entrenched Ilorin in 1920 and though the northern part were very strong, they were later captured in 1900 and by 1914, the amalgamation of Nigeria took place .Ever since then , through colonialization, constitution , commerce, christianity and trans-atlantic slave trade, English  language was robbed into the language system of Nigeria and has captured a very pertinent role in the intra and international communicative system of Nigeria.

According to Tomori (1981) cited in Babatunde (2001, p.105-108) “It (English Language) has been with us for about one hundred and thirty years. Hence it has become our second language.” English Language at present serves virtually all the functions of language in Nigeria. It serves as the language of intra and inter ethnic communication, language of education, commerce, entertainment, science and technology, international relations, literature .Just to mention a few. At present in Nigeria, if not objected by some illiterate, English is indeed a blessing in Nigeria.


This research is basically on stylistics, to engage stylistics as a branch of linguistics and to study and analyze the characteristics of situational distinctive use of language with referent to Niyi Osundare‘s selected socio political poems, also to show the functional significance and the interpretation of the poems.


In an attempt to study stylistics and use it as a linguistic tool of analysis, many writers have embarked no stylistics .Example is “A stylistic analysis of Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu’s coup speech 1996” by Moses Alo and Igbwebuka Ebuka ; rhetorical  concise, Syntactic features, Declarative mood and acts Referring expressions and lexico-semantic features were all used in analyzing the coup speech. In this research, the importance of writers cannot be over-emphasized because through their literary piece, many socio-political ills in our society have been discussed and possible solutions have been proffered to them. In view of these, there exists a great need to examine the use of language by these writers whose literary works have done a lot in shaping our society.

Selected poems of Niyi Osundare’s as one of the prominent writer whose socio-political poems have gone a long way in addressing societal ills will be subjected to analysis in order to show the style and the aesthetic use of language Osundare has used in his socio-political poems.


The scope of the study shall be limited to stylistics  analysis using the features of cohesion , graphology, phonology, pragmatics and lexico-semantics in analyzing Niyi Osundare’s selected socio political poems which are: The Politician’s two mouths, A Villager’s Protest, Eating with all fingers, Eating Tomorrow’s Yam In  “village Voices”. Forest Echoes and They too are the Earth in “the Eyes of the Earth.’


Niyi Osundare was born in 1947 in Ikere Ekiti, Ekiti State. Nigeria. He is a prolific poet, dramatist and literary critic. He gained his degree at the University of Ibadan (B.A), his masters degree in the university of Leeds and his PhD in York university, Canada in 1997. Niyi Osundare has always been a vehement champion of right to freedom of speech and he has a strong believe in the power of words saying “to alter is to utter”. Osundare is renowned for his commitment to socially relevant art and artistic activism .He has written several letters to former president of Nigeria (Olusegun Obasanjo) whom Osundare had often publicly criticized. He believes that there is no choice for Africa poets but to be political. He is a holder of numerous awards for his poetry as well as the Falcons Nichol award for excellence in poetry, creativity combined with significant contributions of human right in Africa.

So far, Niyi Osundare has been a very successful playwright, columnist, literary critics and Emergent writer whose pieces are socio-politically inclined.

Biography from WIKIPEDIA.


We shall attempt a brief review of existing materials or body of knowledge in our chosen theory, it various definitions by scholars and the corresponding stylistics element shall be expounded in the next chapter.

In the chapter that follows, there shall be the analysis of the data i.e. the application of the theory on the data. The data are: selected socio political poems in “Village Voices” and The Eyes of the Earth. Niyi Osundare