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Osundare's intrigues of tongues: Ways of meaning in an African bilingual literary corpus

Dissertation
Author: Abayomi Victor Okunowo
Abstract:
Osundare's writing is generally acknowledged as coterminous with the contentious issues of language, style and meaning in Anglophone modern African literature, and because he is seen as representing a generation of African writers, this study highlights and analyzes aspects of Osundare's creative processes of meaning for his thematic project. Osundare's stylistic deployment of African (Yoruba) 'socio-semio-linguistic life' frameworks (expressed in English as Second Language) evoked by material substance of language is most palpable in his deployment of metaphors, proverbs, word making, graphology, and bilingual features of language contact as components and tropes of poetic meaning. Analyzing these components of Osundare's writing is an attempt at characterizing his literary idiolect and its implications for the production and criticism of African literature. Written modern African literature, generally observed by scholars, is a victim of nineteenth-century European economic, political, cultural and linguistic vandalism. A major consequence is that by the time Europe packed her bags and baggage and physically left Africa, new politico-cultural matrices, which continue to define and make African historicism into the twenty-first century, based on images of the atrocities unleashed by Europe, had emerged. The use of European languages and the apparent reluctance of a section of mainstream African writers to use African languages to produce African verbal artifacts are among the politico-cultural matrices that had emerged. The issues of language, style and meaning in defining African writing have therefore become germane and central to the discursive endeavor in the epistemology of postcolonial African literature. The births of its modernity, the style of its production, the purpose of its content, the language of its communication and the identity of its canon have attracted a plethora of combative critical theorizing; nativist, Marxist, pragmatist, relativist criticisms and others abound. Critics like Chinweizu et al. (1983), Amuta (1989), Ashcroft et al. (1989), Epstein et al. (1998), Adeeko (1998), Okafor (2001), Smith et al. (2002), and Osundare (2002), among others, are examples. In all, the value of the arguments resides in communicating authentic African semiotics, liberating and claiming the canon of African literature within the comity of literary nations, along with the purpose, in relation to the primary society the literature is supposed to serve. Given the above ramifications, my study revisits the issues of language, style and meaning in African literature, expressed in English, through the lenses of Osundare's writing, seeking to analyze, in order to characterize the poet's literary idiolect, how proverb as metaspeech, metaphor as poetic device, bilingualism as consequence of language contact, aspects of linguistic descriptions of word-making, nominal group and graphology are deployed as tropes of poetic meaning for the purpose of themes and message. Within the larger fascinating cultural and literary language options of Osundare's poetry, which this study is about, I also analyze and illustrate how Osundare, negotiating the contesting ideologies on the vexed wisdom of using European languages, makes English co-function with Yoruba codes in communicating African semiotics and sensibilities, modeling meaning for message accessibility. I further explain how Osundare's means of meaning not only interweave Yoruba and English languages within a linguistic contact zone, but also manipulate the English language for aesthetic and creative communicative thematic purposes. My analysis indexes the rhetorical relevance of Osundare as an ESL Anglophone African writer. My objective is to enrich the hitherto mainly cultural critical criticism and direct more attention to a stylistic-cultural critical practice.

The final copy of this thesis has been examined by the signatories, and we find that both the content and the form meet acceptable presentation standards of scholarly work in the above mentioned discipline.

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Okunowo, Abayomi Victor (Ph.D., English)

OSUNDARE’S INTRIGUES OF TONGUES: WAYS OF MEANING IN AN AFRICAN BILINGUAL LITERARY CORPUS

Thesis directed by Professor Cheryl A. Higashida

Osundare’s writing is generally acknowledged as coterminous with the contentious issues of language, style and meaning in Anglophone modern African literature, and because he is seen as representing a generation of African writers, this study highlights and analyzes aspects of Osundare’s creative processes of meaning for his thematic project. Osundare’s stylistic deployment of African (Yoruba) ‘socio-semio- linguistic life’ frameworks (expressed in English as Second Language) evoked by material substance of language is most palpable in his deployment of metaphors, proverbs, word making, graphology, and bilingual features of language contact as components and tropes of poetic meaning. Analyzing these components of Osundare’s writing is an attempt at characterizing his literary idiolect and its implications for the production and criticism of African literature. Written modern African literature, generally observed by scholars, is a victim of nineteenth-century European economic, political, cultural and linguistic vandalism . A major consequence is that by the time Europe packed her bags and baggage and physically left Africa, new politico-cultural matrices, which continue to define and make African historicism into the twenty-first century, based on images of the atrocities unleashed by Europe, had emerged. The use of European languages and the apparent reluctance of a section of mainstream African writers to use African languages to produce African verbal artifacts are among the politico-cultural matrices that had emerged. The issues of language, style and meaning in defining African writing have therefore become germane and central to the discursive endeavor in the epistemology of postcolonial African literature. The births of its modernity, the style of its production, the purpose of its content, the language of its communication and the identity of its canon have attracted a plethora of combative critical theorizing; nativist, Marxist, pragmatist, relativist criticisms and others abound. Critics like Chinweizu et al (1983), Amuta (1989), Ashcroft et al (1989), Epstein et al (1998), Adeeko (1998), Okafor (2001), Smith et al (2002), and Osundare (2002), among others, are examples. In all, the value of the arguments resides in communicating authentic African semiotics, liberating and claiming the canon of African literature within the comity of literary nations, along with the purpose, in relation to the primary society the literature is supposed to serve. Given the above ramifications, my study revisits the issues of language, style and meaning in African literature, expressed in English, through the lenses of Osundare’s writing, seeking to analyze, in order to characterize the poet’s literary idiolect, how proverb as metaspeech, metaphor as poetic device, bilingualism as consequence of language contact, aspects of linguistic descriptions of word-making, nominal group and graphology are deployed as tropes of poetic meaning for the purpose of themes and message. Within the larger fascinating cultural and literary language options of Osundare’s poetry, which this study is about, I also analyze and illustrate how Osundare, negotiating

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the contesting ideologies on the vexed wisdom of using European languages, makes English co-function with Yoruba codes in communicating African semiotics and sensibilities, modeling meaning for message accessibility. I further explain how Osundare’s means of meaning not only interweave Yoruba and English languages within a linguistic contact zone, but also manipulate the English language for aesthetic and creative communicative thematic purposes. My analysis indexes the rhetorical relevance of Osundare as an ESL Anglophone African writer. My objective is to enrich the hitherto mainly cultural critical criticism and direct more attention to a stylistic-cultural critical practice.

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DEDICATION

For the OKUNOWOS (Odosenbora)

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

To whom a favor is done and does not show appreciation is like a thief who made away with our treasure at night. In order that I do not become one, I hasten to thank the following good people who contributed immensely to the successful completion of my doctoral study: Adeleke Addeeko, Humanities Distinguished Professor at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA. He is my distinguished teacher, mentor and the inspirer of my doctoral study. He made my sojourn at the University of Colorado, Boulder possible. Cheryl Higashida, Assistant Professor of English, University of Colorado at Boulder, the chair of my doctoral committee. She devoted part of her precious time for my frequent discussion sessions and shared her thoughts with me. Laura Michaelis, Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Colorado, Boulder, a meticulous prompt advisor and teacher on my doctoral panel. She showed special interest and provided insightful wisdom from linguistics with which I gained useful insights into the analysis and criticism of literature. Mildred Mortimer, fondly called “Mimi”, Professor of French, University of Colorado, Boulder. She made it a point of duty to always attend to my academic needs, even when she was far away in Europe, out of the United States. Her interest in my study was infectious. Marcia Douglas, Associate Professor of English, University of Colorado at Boulder, a writer-performer. She provided me ample time for discussions, even at un- appointed impromptu moments and places. She was very willing. Retired distinguished Professors, Dick and Marjorie McIntosh, good friends, whose comfortable household provided me with home environment for regular reinvigoration in my study. The authorities of the Department of English, headed by Kathrine Eggert and Nan Goodman, at the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA, for providing me the grants and teaching opportunity in support of my research at the university.

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Finally, Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ijebu-Ode, Under the vice- chancellorship of Professor Kayode Oyesiku, for granting me a study leave with pay, which made my journey to the United States for doctoral study a lot easier. My ultimate appreciation goes to God, who made all my undertakings possible and successful. To HIM, the glory!

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CONTENTS CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION 1.1. Background, Need and Motivation for Study…………………………. .1 1.2. Terms, Phrases and Nomenclature…………………………………… .15 1.2.1. Osundare as a Bilingual Writer……………………………………….15 1.2.2. Socio-Semio-Linguistic Life……………………………………….... 18 1.2.3. Text…………………………………………………………………... 20 1.2.4. Semiotics…………………………………………………………….. 23 1.2.5. Stylistics………………………………………………………………24 1.3. Methodology……………………………………………………………26 1.4. Theoretical Assumptions……………………………………………….29 1.4.1. Bilingualism and Translation………………………………………....33 1.4.2. Proverbs as Metaspeech………………………………………………46 1.4.3. Metaphor Theories……………………………………………………52 1.4.4. Metaphors and Proverbs……………………………………………...61 1.4.5. On Graphology……………………………………………………….67 TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1. Introduction………………………………………………………….....71 2.2. The Penkelemes of African Literature………………………………....72 2.3. Introduction to Osundare……………………………………………....87 2.4. Poetic Illocution of a Poetic Tradition…………………………………90 2.5. Stylistic Criticism of African Literature……………………………...104 2.6. Osundare Criticism…………………………………………………...114 2.7. Apprehending Osundare’s Literary Idiolect…………………………141 THREE: TECHNIQUES OF METAPHOR AND PROVERB 3.1. Introduction…………………………………………………………..145 3.2. Metaphorical Tableaux of Meaning……………………………….....147 3.2.1. Text to Text Metaphoricity………………………………………..1.55 3.2.2. Word to Word Metaphoricity………………………………………181 3.3. Proverbial Tableaux of Meaning…………………………………….208 3.3.1. Proverb in the Eye of Osundare…………………………………....211

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3.3.2. Proverb as Reiterative Commentary of Meaning………………….220 3.3.3. Oral Tale-Proverb Making and Meaning………………………….234 Proverbial flux of Meaning………………………………………………243 3.3.4. Proverbial Illocution of Stolen African Artifacts…………………248 FOUR: LINGUISTIC FORMS AS TROPES 4.1. Introduction…………………………………………………………262 4.2. Nominal Group Syntax and Meaning………………………………264 4.3. Word-Making and Meaning………………………………………..310 4.3.1. Yoruba Ideophones and Meaning………………………………..315 4.3.2. Yoruba Words and Meaning……………………………………..324 4.4. Morphological Meaning Making…………………………………..334 4.4.1. Compounding, Hyphenation and Meaning………………………335 4.4.1.1. Unhyphenated Compound Words……………………………..336 4.4.1.2. Hyphenated Compound Words………………………………..339 4.4.1.3. Adjective-Making, Hyphenated Words and Meaning…………345 4.5. Word-Punning and Meaning………………………………………348 4.6. Graphology and Meaning…………………………………………359 FIVE: A LITERARY IDIOLECT 5.1. Introduction……………………………………………………….372 5.2. Osundare’s Literary Idiolect………………………………………374 5.2.1. Semiotic Aggregation…………………………………………...376 5.2.2. Deployment of Proverbs………………………………………..380 5.2.3. Bilingualism and Creativity…………………………………….381 5.2.4. Oral-Written Genre…………………………………………….384 5.2.5. Singing History…………………………………………………391 5.2.6. Poetry and Social Reformation………………………………...397 5.3. Implications of Osundare’s Idiolect……………………………...401 5.3.1. Implications of Osundare’s Stylistics………………………….422 5.4. Conclusion………………………………………………………425 Bibliography………………………………………………………...431

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Chapter One: Introduction 1.1. Background, Need and Motivation for Study Osundare’s poetics, I have found, revolves around the following quoted stylistic theses. It is through these lenses I propose to analyze and characterize Osundare’s literary idiolect and its implications. These stylistic theses, constructed within Yoruba ‘socio-semio- linguistic life’, sum up my study focus. My focus includes proverbs, metaphors, word making, and stylistic features of linguistic descriptions of nominal group syntax and graphology as processes of meaning making. These elements, as tropes of poetic meaning, enhance our understanding of themes and how message is communicated in Osundare’s poetry. Osundare, reflecting the stylistic motivation for his imaginative composition, says: On Meaning: Meaning is my First and Last Point of Call 1 .

On Proverbs: Sometimes a proverb breaks within my grasp like the chapter of an ill-remembered dream (Word: 23). Who is afraid of the proverb? Of the drum which left its echoes in the auricles of leaping streets (Memory: 100).

On Metaphor: I tethered my metaphor to a tree, behind memory’s house, then I went for a nap, in the hammock of the wind. I woke up to a carnival of songs (Words: 71)

On Word-Making: In the Beginning was the Word[…] in the Yoruba imagination- and pragmatics- words are abstract, innate and mute until given the breath of human voice, called forth, as it were from it to itness, the calling forth is easier, more efficacious when the referent has a name, the name being the product of a cooperative principle between verbal signification and ontological identity (Osundare 2002: 116).

On Language Form: Sounds matter. So do the syntactic patterning which endows them with anchor and sequence. One subgenre of Yoruba poetry Which exploits most mellifluously the intricate interplay of sound patterning and syntactic patterning is oriki, the most basic, most widely practiced of all Yoruba poetic types of the secular variety. It is a genre I have cherished since my childhood (Osundare 2002: 128).

1 Ogoanah, N.F. “‘I am a Humanist’: Niyi Osundare on the Poetry of Niyi Osundare”. An interview conducted and appeared in West Africa Review, 14.1, 2003.

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On Visual Symbolism: I am always fascinated by the potential of the page. It’s like the canvas. The open page is to be exploited […]. You have the liberty to play with words and arrange them the way you want. I try to produce harmony between the visual and the aural. I want my readers to hear my words the way they’re written 2 .

These stylistic theses are generally situated within Osundare’s ‘naturally’ internalized socio-semio-linguistic life of Yoruba, Nigeria, having been primarily socialized in it and having adopted it as the basis of his poetic endeavor. It is therefore the objective of this study to engage in a stylistic in-depth analysis of Osundare’s poetic tropes and ways of meaning and locate them within the discourse of style, language and meaning in bilingual African literature, and assess how successful is this literary ideology. There are three factors motivating my study of Osundare’s poetics. The first one is the “language question” in African literature. The second is the languages (Yoruba and English) contact zone in African ESL writing, and the third one is the position that Osundare’s writing represents a generation of African (Nigeria) writing, in which Achebe-Soyinka-Clerk group is cited as representing the first and Osundare-Anyidoho- Ojaide-Mapanje usually cited as representing the second. The matters arising from these three motivating factors are issues bordering on language, style, meaning and communication in African literature- issues in Africa’s linguistic-cultural contact with Europe through colonialism. My discussion in this preamble is focused on the issues germane to these factors, forming the background for my engagement with Osundare’s poetic corpus as the subject of this study. While examining these issues, which are consequently fully elaborated upon in my subsequent chapters, I highlight the need for this study, a need arising from the fisted debate that seems to have beclouded a holistic

2 Ogoanah, N.F. An Interview with Osundare in West African Review, 2003.

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stylistic characterization of African literature, which, in my view, should have been African literature’s test of felicity to the socio-semio-linguistic life of Africa in the first place, rather than the ideology-driven argument, common in the debate on style, language and identity in African letters. I additionally take the position that the bilingual, sometimes multilingual, situation of the African writer, which has not received adequate analytical attention, is a crucial imperative for the African writer’s stylistic choice and craft, and that Osundare provides a good exemplar for characterizing the generation and style he represents. This is more so because criticism of Osundare has mainly been thematic, with broad generalization of his technique, without the holistic characterization of style and language which makes his themes and ideology pungent. This study therefore pursues that direction of characterizing Osundare’s stylistics at the different levels of language and culture, which the poet deploys into poetic composition and communication.

Re-examining the language debate, the question of using foreign languages remains one of the timeless “stresses” that have occupied the center stage in the wake of postcolonial literary criticism in African literature. Obiajunwa Wali (1963), reacting to the African writers’ conference held at Makerere University, Uganda, in 1962, trying to come to a consensus about the definition of “African literature” wrote in Transition 10 and predicts “the dead end of African literature” on the premise of its medium of production. Specifically, Wali posits that “African literature as now understood and practiced [in European languages] is only a minor appendage in the mainstream of European literature”. The impetus of Wali’s position could be understood within the momentum and atmosphere of political independence in Anglophone Africa at that time.

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It was the high-noon of anti-colonialism activities. For instance, between 1957 and 1965 all West African countries had achieved political independence (Newell 2006) 3 . One can therefore think that Wali’s combative call to use solely African languages to produce African literature is an impulse for some kind of cultural liberation and anti-imperialism, not necessarily an expedience of creative practice.

The wisdom of using English, for instance, has been challenged, questioned, accessed and re-accessed, and different positions have been taken by writers and critics alike. Different critical theorizing schools have emerged in which we have, among many others, Achebe’s Morning Yet on Creation Day (1975), Chinweizu et al: Towards the Decolonization of African Literature (1983), Wa Thiong’o’s Decolonizing the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature (1986), Ngara’s Stylistic Criticism and the African Novel (1982), Ashcroft’s The Empire Writes Back (1989) and Epstein’s (ed.) The Language of African Literature (1998). However, the culturalist ideologically-driven perspective continues to dominate within different ideological persuasions, problematizing the discursive referential value of African literature, making the subject of language-culture a central matter in African literary discourse. My observation is that most of the postulations are mainly criticisms of language choice, generally devoid of actual insights gained from stylistic/methodological orientations employed by writers in the use of English in co-contention with African languages to access African socio- semio-linguistic life, in this instance, to express African sensibilities. In other words, not much attention has been commensurately paid on language use, which is the purview of stylistics.

3 Newell’s book West African Literatures: Ways of Reading (2006) provides a comprehensive timeline table of socio-cultural, political and literary events in West Africa between 300 AD to the present- (2002- present).

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Currently, the “language question” is even more now relevant than ever before. It is increasingly becoming the reality that many ‘young’ published African writers are now oversea-based, and many more are moving there in droves through the attractions of writing grants, prizes and awards for further studies, and of course availability of publishing houses that are interested in publishing creative materials, unlike say in Nigeria, other than the Ministry of Education listed texts. British council in Nigeria apart, there are bodies that now organize forum through which these writers find their way to Western countries. Currently, in this regard one can cite the example of Bath Spa University, Britain, which organizes annual creative writing competition for Nigerian and Ghanaian budding writers. Winners are usually ‘shipped’ away for further studies- in most cases, they do not return home. This is in addition, citing Nigerian example, to writers like Chinua Achebe, Kole Omotoso, Christ Abani, Ben Okri, Biyi Bamidele, Tess Onwueme, to mention just a few, who have long been away from home for decades. Indeed, one does not need figures from any Bureau of Statistics to say that “African literature” lives oversea because it is obvious that a larger percentage of its producers, critics and publishers operate from foreign soil, and this will have stylistic and critical implications of no small dimension. Added to forced or self-imposed exile and study overseas, which were hitherto factors of ‘African literary brain drain’, is the call of fame and fortune in capitalist developed Western countries. Nowadays writers have sophisticated business managers. Writers have to promote their works, junketing and traversing the globe, appearing both on solicited and unsolicited workshops and talk shows, with the commercial intrigues of “Best Seller” listing on New York Times, a mention in London Review of Books and the politics of Oprah appearance (Thanks to

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Oprah buzz on Nigeria’s Uwem Akpan’s Say You’re One of Them (2008)- fame, fortune and commercial concerns, not readership pedagogy for social reformation, have taken over literary production in the twenty-first century! It seems to me, shall we say, these set of African writers’ works will become the lenses through which the twenty-first century African writing stylistics will be characterized. The immediate stylistic implication is that these new waves of writers’ imagination is heavily now being influenced by the idiosyncrasies of their diasporas. For example, a critic, Sule (2005), has remarked that Adichie’s “over-praised” Purple Hibiscus lacks exciting bilingual literary language and that “the Igbo words infused here and there are too cosmetic to create the genuine aura that Adichie has intended.” 4

Moreover, as I see it, the tragedy is that these writers’ creations are being guided by their Western agents and publishers to appeal to their host’s taste, losing the idiom of home- country; the bilingual idiom, which I consider a rubric of African literary style, loses the second language experience and therefore runs the risk of alienation from home source and audience. For instance, Chinedu Ogoke, a Nigerian writer who lives and write in Germany remarked during an interview 5 that “the African writer is an orphan, an adopted child. He has to operate within some standards, and listen to the voice of his guardian, who reports to a higher authority, the Western reader”. In addition, a number of these writers already hold alienated stylistic opinions. For example, Ben Okri, once Booker prize winner, according to Ojaide (2007: 4), “is now considered (and considers himself) a British writer!” Similarly, Sefi Atta long resident in the US says: I have seen that in America there are rewards for writing under the Western gaze, you know, orientating myself towards the West, which could mean anything from making

4 Sule, E.E. “Literary Language and Recent Nigerian Fiction”. Web. 29 Nov. 2005. africanwriter.com 5 Interview conducted by Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye, published online in wordpress.com, 2002.

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basic concessions like explaining every mundane detail relating to Nigeria […] I am not going to refer to a single tropical fruit, exotic plant, spice, evil spirit, proverb […] or whatever is expected in an African story 6 .

All these have problematized the “language question” and point toward a new perspective of comparative stylistic studies of home and Diaspora of African literature. Given this background, the emergent arguments of different schools, which concentrate more on language choice rather than more on language use, provide the need for this study. This debate on choice of language rather than on stylistic use brings to the fore three critical questions. What are the linguistic circumstances of Anglophone African literature? Is the medium of production/expression a sole defining criterion? Is the weight of content a priority for definition? In my view the answers to these questions compete for equal stylistic idiom, discourse and space in African verbal artifacts, given Africa’s historical circumstances. Moreover, the stylistic idiom, I think, must be characterized by socio-semio-linguistic life of African identities and sensibilities. The opposing views in the debate and my argument in the subsequent sections of this thesis provide responsive insights into these questions. These insights, through the lenses of Osundare’s poetry, are analytically demonstrated and discussed in chapters (3 and 4), including the findings and implications thereof in chapter (5) of this thesis. Postcolonial literature provides a fertile creative contact zone within which languages-cultures in contact could be studied. In this instance, Osundare’s oeuvre illustrates how English as Second Language (L 2 ) can co-function with African languages and be made to function as a medium of creative production that serves its immediate environment and beyond. This perspective has been suggested (Jeyifo 1988; Ngara 1982) and therefore requires a serious study as the one being undertaken here. In using English,

6 Interview conducted by Ike Anya and published online at nigeriaworld, 2005.

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in the contact zone of African languages and European languages, African writers, without gainsaying it, have made immense contribution, to the making of “Englishes” out of English as a world language. Writers like Amos Tutuola, Ama Ata Aidoo, Wole Soyinka, Flora Nwapa, Ayi Kwei Armah, Anyidoho, Mapanje, Nurudeen Farah, Niyi Osundare, Chinua Achebe, including critics like Abiola Irele, Biodun Jeyifo, Adeleke Adeeko, Tanure Ojaide, Emmanuel Obiechina, Ayo Bangbose, to mention very few, have produced volumes of creative works and body of scholarly materials being read and shared all over the world. These works by Africans in English expression engage the socio-cultural patterns and portray the customs and traditions and historicity of Africa- the immediate source of African writers’ motivation. The English language is effectively adopted, manipulated and used within the linguistic and cultural complexities of African states as heterogeneous societies, to communicate, both within and across African borders, that which are of concern to African situation and development in the world. Indeed, because of their unique position, African writers provide the most exciting nuances of languages in contact in actual creative practice. And so, as much as it can be, African writers stretch the English language, within African cultural Textuality, with the virtuosity of stylo- linguistic artistic competence to produce and communicate African writing to the world in which they are integral part. Consequently, beyond artistic difference, the linguistic and stylistic cohort of African writers will remain a phenomenon, and that is why Amos Tutuola’s work, stylistically described as “Yoruba English”, remains relevant, that is why Soyinka’s language is as legendary and controversial as his creative master pieces, that is why

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Achebe remains most cited as being what English can be made to become. Most importantly now, Ghana’s Kofi Anyidoho and Nigeria’s Niyi Osundare are seen as poets whose poetic stylistic norms of the use of English/Akan and English/Yoruba, respectively, are interplayed and conspicuously integrated to embody African meaning and form in a most sublime way, utilizing African traditional forms to “abrogate and appropriate” English to bear the burden of communicating African worldview and sensibilities, and most importantly, identities. Although it may not have been theorized, postcolonial linguistic “writing back” has always existed within the contact zone of ‘socio-semio-linguistic life’ of Africa. Sociolinguistic studies have shown that this rubric is an “empirical reality” of “social and historical norms that applied to a particular environment [speech community]” Bamiro (1997:106). It is also instructive to note, as opined by Kachru quoted by Bamiro (1997:106), that “contact linguistics will gain greater insights about linguistic creativity by considering [… literary] texts as data for making language-related generalizations”. I agree with this line of thinking. However, with the addition of knowing how such linguistic creativity models and communicates meaning beyond mere statistical chronicling and assemblage of linguistic data. A related linguistic discourse, which borders on literary linguistic creativity, a generated discourse from the “language question” in modern African literature, is advanced in Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin in their interestingly controversial The Empire Writes Back (1989). Central to the “language question” in their redemptive argument is what they describe as linguistic “abrogation and appropriation” by post-colonial writers, “a model [being worked out by the writers]

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for the agency of the local in the face of apparently overwhelming global pressure” (204). As seen by Ashcroft et al, the linguistic project in postcolonial writing involves: The first, the abrogation or denial of the privilege of ‘English’ involves a rejection of the metropolitan power over the means of communication. The second, the appropriation and reconstitution of the language of the center, the process of capturing and remoulding the language to new usages, marks a separation from the site of colonial privilege (37)

This position challenges what some theories in western bilingual pedagogy teach as ‘correct’ usage of English or the so-called native speaker variety as ESL curriculum to foreign students. Such subversive curriculum constructions, according to Kubota (2002:22) “promote narrow view of world cultures and, furthermore, produce essentialized images of […] Inner Circle countries [suggesting that] Inner Circle varieties English are ‘authentic’ English”. The central frame of ESL scholarship, in this case, is to take what is ‘appropriate’ in western ‘linguistics life’ as bilingual curriculum to teach English as L 2 in other geopolitical situations. What should have formed the basis of this scholarship, in my opinion, is what the English language has been made to become to serve in whatever environment it finds itself, the historical circumstances of its domicile notwithstanding. To do otherwise is to undo what has been done for the purposes of bilingual communication and displacement of English and its normative position. The overwhelming ‘reworking’ of English (in bilingual communities and written artifacts), given the fact that non-native users of English have outgrown its native speakers in its transformation into “World Englishes”, in my estimation, is disrobing English of its pristine Anglo-Saxon pretentions, aligning with Ferguson’s submission that “English is

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less and less regarded as a European language and its development is less and less determined by the usage of its native speakers” (xvii) 7 . English as an international language, in my contention, does not mean uniformity of usage but usages, and therefore it means negotiating “Englishes” stylistically, along with the different linguistic and cultural experiences ‘English’ may have been embodied with as means of universal communication in English-speaking bilingual/bicultural speech communities, both in structures and usages. Indeed, the perspective of English as Second Language (ESL) curriculum for pedagogy should be endocentric, inward looking into its geopolitical space of use. In this regard, Afolayan (1988: i) has emphasized that […] the ESL concept is not restricted to the study of and use of English language in isolation. On the other hand, it indicates that languages other than English are equally involved, [with the underlying] principles of bilingualism-biculturalism, assignment of complementary roles to English and to indigenous local languages, and the primacy of the mother tongue 8 .

Consequently, for example, one can talk of Nigerian English, Ghanaian English, and even West African English. For instance, this extract from Armah’s Fragments (1970:125): “I thought there were fixed times for those thing”, Baako said. “Like a week or a month or whatever it is after birth?” … “An outdooring ceremony held more than a few days after payday is useless,” Efua said.

“Outdooring” is a prime order translation of, for example, “aba dunto” and “ìkómojáde” in Akan (Ghana) and Yoruba (Nigeria) to somehow mean “christening”, respectively, a prime order meaning in English which if used would not have captured the semiotic essence in the source language for which “outdooring” is a prime order translation of the source meaning. Akin to this; neither would “christening” capture the meaning of “Baby shower” in North American semiotics. One can also cite the word “bukataria”, a lexical

7 Charles Ferguson’s foreword to the first edition of The Other Tongue: English Across Cultures (second edition), Kachru, B. (ed.), 1992. 8 This is part of the editorial comments in “Journal of English as a Second Language”. Vol. 2. 1988. A Publication of Department of English, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

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coinage from “buka”, a Yoruba word and “cafeteria”, an English word. It is within this purview, I submit, that linguistic literary creativity of using English in Anglophone African literature will be best appreciated and understood, not by certain ‘global regulations’. Following the above orientation, I have observed in my analysis that Osundare’s poetry produces an example of the signifying essence of the interplay of African historical ‘linguistic life’ (Osundare being a bilingual fluent user of Yoruba and English) and ‘socio-semiotic life’ (Osundare being a Yoruba-Nigerian African). For example, poems like “Excursions” in Songs of the Marketplace (1983) and a number of sections in Waiting Laughters (1990) inculcate interlingual composition of code-mixing, codes- translation and Yoruba proverbial juxtaposition with English codes, manipulated for meaning, aesthetic and communication of message. For a bilingual postcolonial African writer, like Osundare, engaged in creative activity, the writer requires a different kind of stylo-linguistic craftsmanship, for his experience is construed by African ‘socio-semiotic-linguistic life’. Because of some non- linguistic based arguments about language in African literature (Chapter 2.2), I want to emphasize here that language is an abstract phenomenon and that what a writer does with a language, any language for that matter, is dependent on the writer’s internalized ‘socio-semiotic life’. Importantly therefore, Osundare’s linguistic virtuosity and his ‘natural’ grounding in Yoruba ‘socio-semio-linguistic life’ provide the how of his poetic discourse with its unique inner metabolisms. What should matter most, given the African heterogeneous linguistic/historical conditions, it seems to me, is how the language(s) of choice has been stylistically manipulated, within the identity of socio-semio-linguistic

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Abstract: Osundare's writing is generally acknowledged as coterminous with the contentious issues of language, style and meaning in Anglophone modern African literature, and because he is seen as representing a generation of African writers, this study highlights and analyzes aspects of Osundare's creative processes of meaning for his thematic project. Osundare's stylistic deployment of African (Yoruba) 'socio-semio-linguistic life' frameworks (expressed in English as Second Language) evoked by material substance of language is most palpable in his deployment of metaphors, proverbs, word making, graphology, and bilingual features of language contact as components and tropes of poetic meaning. Analyzing these components of Osundare's writing is an attempt at characterizing his literary idiolect and its implications for the production and criticism of African literature. Written modern African literature, generally observed by scholars, is a victim of nineteenth-century European economic, political, cultural and linguistic vandalism. A major consequence is that by the time Europe packed her bags and baggage and physically left Africa, new politico-cultural matrices, which continue to define and make African historicism into the twenty-first century, based on images of the atrocities unleashed by Europe, had emerged. The use of European languages and the apparent reluctance of a section of mainstream African writers to use African languages to produce African verbal artifacts are among the politico-cultural matrices that had emerged. The issues of language, style and meaning in defining African writing have therefore become germane and central to the discursive endeavor in the epistemology of postcolonial African literature. The births of its modernity, the style of its production, the purpose of its content, the language of its communication and the identity of its canon have attracted a plethora of combative critical theorizing; nativist, Marxist, pragmatist, relativist criticisms and others abound. Critics like Chinweizu et al. (1983), Amuta (1989), Ashcroft et al. (1989), Epstein et al. (1998), Adeeko (1998), Okafor (2001), Smith et al. (2002), and Osundare (2002), among others, are examples. In all, the value of the arguments resides in communicating authentic African semiotics, liberating and claiming the canon of African literature within the comity of literary nations, along with the purpose, in relation to the primary society the literature is supposed to serve. Given the above ramifications, my study revisits the issues of language, style and meaning in African literature, expressed in English, through the lenses of Osundare's writing, seeking to analyze, in order to characterize the poet's literary idiolect, how proverb as metaspeech, metaphor as poetic device, bilingualism as consequence of language contact, aspects of linguistic descriptions of word-making, nominal group and graphology are deployed as tropes of poetic meaning for the purpose of themes and message. Within the larger fascinating cultural and literary language options of Osundare's poetry, which this study is about, I also analyze and illustrate how Osundare, negotiating the contesting ideologies on the vexed wisdom of using European languages, makes English co-function with Yoruba codes in communicating African semiotics and sensibilities, modeling meaning for message accessibility. I further explain how Osundare's means of meaning not only interweave Yoruba and English languages within a linguistic contact zone, but also manipulate the English language for aesthetic and creative communicative thematic purposes. My analysis indexes the rhetorical relevance of Osundare as an ESL Anglophone African writer. My objective is to enrich the hitherto mainly cultural critical criticism and direct more attention to a stylistic-cultural critical practice.