Eco-Critical Study of Tanure Ojaide's The Activist and The Tale of the Harmattan

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


Literature and Languages

Date of Award

Spring 2016


This project pairs Tanure Ojaide’s autobiographical protest novel, The Activist (2006), and his poetry collection, The Tale of the Harmattan (2007), in order to argue that his work on the indigenous people (especially women) of Nigeria’s Niger Delta offers an important means to revise our understanding of postcolonial theory to move beyond the outdated notion of colonialist nations to colonialist power as seated in multinational corporations that transcend national origin. My approach incorporates elements from environmental, political, and sociocultural images to analyze how Ojaide's work shows the connection between environmental issues and governmental cooperation with global corporations while arguing for revolution by the Delta people to achieve a vision of environmental justice. Ojaide’s focus on the historic environmental degradation and disastrous oil pollution caused by multinational oil companies in the Niger Delta area is part of a neocolonial literature best considered from an interdisciplinary and multi-theoretical approach. His complex literary style spans the dialogic construction of a range of discourses; his work includes womanist discourse and the eco-critical awareness of environmental issues, as well as the postcolonial discourse that has become an identifying element of contemporary African literatures. My analysis shows that the strong association female characters in this novel and collection of poetry have with the natural world and the values of their traditional cultures tends to be brought to their activism. Additionally, the women in his work are shown as agents in their daily work and families, speaking for their communities, and acting effectively to protest against both corporate actions and corrupt government. In the context of postcolonial and neocolonial politics and issues, this strong identification of the values of women categorizes Ojaide’s work as postcolonial and political.


Kathryn Jacobs

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies