THE SIGNIFICANCE OF IZON LINGUISTIC FEATURES IN EBI YEIBO’S POETRY

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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF IZON LINGUISTIC FEATURES IN EBI YEIBO’S POETRY
CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION
1.1          Background to the Study
Linguistics is the study of human natural language. It is an exciting area of study because all other fields of study also make use of language in their studies. Language is the chief means by which human beings communicate their ideas. Since language is human’s chief means of communication, everybody uses language in society. Although everybody uses language in society, different people use language in diverse ways.
    The use of language is influenced by several factors which include the family, religion, society, educational background, exposure, etc. the profession of an individual greatly influences his use of language, and every speaker of a language has his preferred choice of words (diction). Writers, especially poets, use language mostly differently from the established codes of the language. Poets have what is known as “poetic licence” which permits them to ignore some rules and conventions generally observed by users of the language. This licence does not mean, the writer can use anything but the licence refers to creative licence where the poet can employ his creative idea to bring in new areas of his experience. Creativity brings aesthetic value to a piece of writing, especially poetry. Yeibo, who is a creative writer is not an exception who takes his knowledgeable advantage of his Izon language to employ Izon linguistic features in his poetry written in English.
    In this research work, we are going to see some of those Izon linguistic features Yeibo employed in his poetry and analyze them to see how they have contributed to the aesthetic and communicative values of his works. In a bilingual setting, people infuse the code of one language into another. This infusion is not disorderly, there must be parallelism and Yeibo has been parallel in his infusion of the Izon linguistic code in the English code.
    Therefore, it is anticipated that after going through his work, one will be educated on how to mix the codes of two different languages without causing incomprehensibility to the reader.
1.2    Purpose of Study
The purpose of this study is to point out and discuss the significance of the Izon linguistic features in Ebi Yeibo’s poetry. It brings out how the Izon linguistic features are used aesthetically by the poet to discuss the bureaucratic inefficiency of government, corruption, poverty, infrastructural, moral and institutional decay in the Niger Delta area.
    The study shows that there is a relationship between the linguistic features of the Izon language and the English language as the poet employs the Izon linguistic features to write his poems in English. The study identifies the various Izon linguistic features in the collections and expresses their values. The study demonstrates that Yeibo has taken advantage of his status as a native speaker of Izon and his experience of the Ijaw environment to use Ijo linguistic elements to embelish his poetry.
The native speakers of any language are competent users of that language and hardly commit errors. Apart from not committing errors, they use the language in special ways to send their messages that non-native speakers hardly comprehend. The way native speakers use language is worth studying and this is the aim of this research work. Yeibo, who is a native speaker of the Izon language, has effectively employed some Izon linguistic patterns in his poetry written in English. The various Izon linguistic features employed by Yeibo send different and strong messages to the reader. The reader, who might be a non-native speaker might find it difficult to comprehend the messages. These Izon linguistic features in question are: lexical borrowings, code-switching, Izon proverbs and Idioms, native rhetorical patterns, and semantic extension and dislocation.
    This work is aimed at identifying the various Izon linguistic features employed by Yeibo, analyzing them, discussing them, and interpreting the intended messages by the poet to the readers. The reader who would come across some of these Izon linguistic features for the first time might find it difficult to comprehend them. Therefore, this work would help to ease the difficulties encountered by the readers. The work would not only interpret the linguistic features but would also reveal to the reader that there is a relationship between the Izon language and the English language where Yeibo who understands both languages used them all in his poetry to convey his messages. The Izon linguistic features employed by Yeibo are deviations from the English code but deviation is also a style in language used by linguists to send special messages.       
1.3    Ebi Yeibo and His Writings
    Knowledge about the poet and his background is necessary because it provides information about his linguistic, socio-cultural, psychological and physical background which is useful in understanding the texts and his use of language, especially the employment of Ijaw linguistic features. Ebi Yeibo was born on the 24th of February, 1969 to his Ijaw parents. He hails from Ayamassa Community in Ekeremor Local Government Area, Bayelsa State. The major occupations of his people are fishing and farming. As fishermen and farmers, they use Ijaw language mainly in their conversations and interactions. Ebi Yeibo who is also part of this occupation uses the Ijaw language as a typical Ekeremor man which also influences his choice of words in his poems. He had his Bachelor Degree in English from Delta State University, Abraka, 1996 and had his Master’s Degree from the University of Ibadan, 2000 in stylistics. He is a Lecturer I. He teaches in the Department of English and Literary Studies, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State. He is currently studying for his Ph.D also in Delta State University, Abraka. Ebi Yeibo being a stylistician and having an in-depth knowledge of his Ijaw language, employs the Ijaw linguistic features stylistically in his poetry which makes his collections have linguistic and aesthetic values. Some of Yeibo’s poems in A Song for Tomorrow have appeared in newspapers, journals and anthologies, including: The Guardian (Nigeria); The Post Express; Daily Times (Nigeria); ANA Review (Association of Nigerian Authors);     Passport to the New World (ed.S.Ayenawu, Apex Books, 2001); and The Silence within (International Library of Poetry, Owings Mills, USA, 2001).
    Besides contributions in newspapers, journals and anthologies, Yeibo has published several poetry collections which include: Maiden Lines (1997), A Song for Tomorrow (2003), The Forbidden Tongue (2007), Shadows of the Setting Sun (2012), and The Fourth Masquerade (2014). Yeibo has won several prizes which include: ANA Oyo State Poetry Prize (2000); ANA Delta State/Tanure Ojaide Poetry prize (2003 and 2004); ANA Bayelsa State Poetry Prize (2008); Isaac Boro Prize for Niger Delta Literature (2008); and received Honourable Mention, ANA/NDDC Poetry Prize (2005) and Pat Utomi Book Prize for African Literature.  
1.4    Scope of the Study
    This analysis of Izon linguistic features is limited to three of Ebi Yeibo’s Poetry collections – The Fourth Masquerade, Shadows of the Setting Sun, and The Forbidden Tongue. These three collections are chosen because of the Izon linguistic features and the messages they share. The three collections all employ the Izon linguistic features like lexical borrowings,     Izon proverbs/idioms, native rhetorical patterns, etc. to discuss the issues of corruption, oppression, poverty, greed, political instability, the bureaucratic inefficiency of government; infrastructural, moral and institutional decay, the deplorable conditions under which the     Niger Delta people negotiate their existence, the threatened Niger Delta scape and, on some occasions, the lingering effects of colonialism on the African continent. Ebi Yeibo is not the only Izon writer that has employed linguistic features in his poetry. Other writers especially, Gabriel Okara and J.P. Clarke have also employed Izon linguistic features in their works. Amongst all, J.P. Clarke used the Izon linguistic features more in his works than others. One of Clarke’s works that he employed the Izon linguistic features most is “Vernacular Tradition”. In  Vernacular  Tradition , Clarke employed Izon linguistic features that give the work local colouring and aesthetic value. Both Okara and Clarke’s works have received more exhaustive critical attentions than Yeibo’s works. Besides the much critical attentions Okara and Clarke’s works have got, they did not discuss socio-political issues like Yeibo’s. Yeibo’s collections deal more on current socio-political issues affecting the Niger Delta Area.      1.5    Methodology
    The methodology of this work is qualitative in approach because it is interpretative in nature. It explains and evaluates the linguistic features of the texts. These findings include words, narratives, individual quotes, literary style etc. (Owiredu 70).The Izon linguistic features in the chosen texts are identified and explained bringing out their aesthetic values and communicative significance. Each of the features identified has its functions and     purposes and these are explained. In this analysis, only few examples are cited from the primary texts to illustrate its linguistic feature. In the main work, more examples are given exhaustively. Henceforth, the following abbreviations are given for the primary texts: TFM (The Fourth Masquerade), SSS (Shadows of the Setting Sun), and TFT (The Forbidden Tongue).
1.6    Theoretical Background
    This study is guided by Geoffrey N. Leech’s comment on the “Linguistic Convention in Poetry” where Leech says “there is no such thing as literary register, a code of accepted usage in literature” (Leech 12). The study adopts Leech’s notion of style as deviation since the Izon linguistic features in Yeibo’s poetry deviate from the English code.
    Linguistics is the study of language in general, but the use of language in different fields of discourse may be different. The use of language in poetry may deviate from the established code of English because poetry uses language mostly connotatively or figuratively. According to Leech, poetic language may be different from ordinary language in three     aspects. First, poetic language may violate or deviate from the generally observed rules of the language in many different ways, some obvious, some subtle. Both the means of and motives for deviation are worth careful study.
    Secondly, the creative writer, and more particularly the poet, enjoys a unique freedom, amongst users of the language, to range over all its communicative resources, without respect to the social or historical contexts to which they belong. This means, amongst other things, that the poet can draw on the language of past ages, or can borrow features belonging to other, non-literary uses of language, as Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, for example, have made use of the English of banal, prosy conversation in some of their poems.
    Thirdly, most of what is considered characteristic of literary language (for example, the use of tropes like irony and metaphor) nevertheless has its roots in everyday uses of language, and can best be studied with some reference to these uses (6).
    The study is also guided by Leech’s “Varieties of Poetic Licence” where Leech says that the poet has the right to ignore rules and conventions generally observed by users of the language. The licence Leech is talking about here is creative licence; whereby a poet may transcend the limits of the language to explore and communicate new areas of experience. Poetic licence does not mean anything goes in the language of poetry. As with a legal code, if transgressions are too frequent and too violent, the system breaks down. There are limits in the degree of freedom and also the types of freedom exercised. Poetic licence is certainly displayed more at some levels of linguistic patterning than at others. If the rules are broken down too much, it gives little value to poetry. Therefore, poets are to be careful on how they exercise their freedom. Yeibo in his collections makes careful use of his freedom as a poet, so the Izon linguistic features employed in his poems which are deviations from the English code do not     affect his works to the point of incomprehensibility.
    This study also takes insights from Leech’s types of deviation where Leech mentioned various types of linguistic deviation which are (1) Lexical Deviation, (2) Grammatical Deviation, (3) Phonological Deviation, (4) Graphological Deviation, (5) Semantic Deviation, (6) Dialectal Deviation, (7) Deviation of Register and (8) Deviation of Historical Period.
          Lexical Deviation. In this type of deviation the poet invents new words and infuses them into the existing words in a language. Leech refers to this type of deviation as “neologism or invention of new words” where he (Leech) says the poet may exceed the normal resources of the language (42). He adds that neologism is not limited to the poet, journalists, copy writers, scientists and even ordinary citizens in ordinary conversations see neologism as the readiest way to express their feelings or opinions .That is, lexical deviation or neologism eases conversation. In a situation where a person does not have the exact word to use in a conversation can bring in a word from another language to fill in the gap in a particular context. In lexical deviation or neologism, a writer in his style of writing can apply an existing rule in a greater generality than his customary: that the usual restrictions on its operation are waived in a given instance. This is not far from the lexical borrowings discussed in our work where Yeibo borrowed Izon lexical items in his collections written in English. The words such as biran,  oleilei, ageri, eseni, etc. are used in Yeibo’s  poetry. These words are Izon words but they combine to make Yeibo’s collections a whole. The infusion of these words do not only ease  Yeibo’s conversation with his readers but also gives local colouring  to the works. Anybody that picks these collections and reads them knows where they are coming from.
         Grammatical Deviation. This type of deviation encompasses Morphology (The grammar of the word) and Syntax (the grammar of how words pattern with sentences). Some of the syntactic patterns in Yeibo’s poetry do not conform with the English code. This is because Yeibo has mixed the Izon and English codes together. “Whether the cock crows or not, the day will break”. “ Not to mourn yet until they enter pot”. The first expression has ‘day break’ referring to the day as something that is fragile and can break. What he means here is the dawn of a day or the breaking of dawn. In English, only dawn breaks but Yeibo has extended it to ‘day break’ thereby violating the syntactic rules of English. The second sentence “Not to mourn until they enter pot” does not have the linguistic elements of a canon sentence. We do not know what says we should not mourn until they enter pot. English canon sentences have subject- Verb-Object (SVO). This sentence lacks these elements and do not send a real message. However, the typical Izon man understands the message and can interpret it. The interpretations made by the Izon man make the work more comprehensible to the non-Izon reader (s). Hence, the purpose of this research work. It is thus, evident to say that Leech’s grammatical deviation is a good guide to this work.
           Phonological Deviation. Phonology is the study of the application of speech sounds in a language. Phonological deviation has to do with the irregularities of pronunciation of words in a speech context. Therefore, phonological deviation in English poetry is of limited importance (Leech 46). In English, the only phonological irregularities that are necessary to note are conventional licences of verse composition, elison, ephesis, apocope, and special pronunciation for the convenience of rhyming, as when the verb live is pronounced like the adjective live. Again, some poets place word stresses in unusual places: like bastárd by Browning and Júly by  D.G. Rossetti (Leech 47). Although, we have said that phonological deviation is of limited importance to our work, it is worthy to mention that Yeibo’s collections have some word stress patterns that are different from English. A very good example is wúwú  wúwú wúwú. English does not have such word stress pattern. The speech sounds in English are different from those of Izon.
           Graphological Deviation. Graphology is the study of writings in a language. It studies how words are spaced, how letters are written and how punctuation marks are used, etc.
The Izon graphology is different from English. In the case of emphasis, the Izon language repeats words. That is why we see the expressions like ala beni kolo kolo, which means salt water is bitter in English. In the case of the possessive case of nouns, English adds apostrophe and s to the noun. That is, the house of John, becomes John’s house. But Izon does not show the possessive case in such manner. John’s house in English will be realized as John wari, thereby, omitting the apostrophe. Yeibo’s collections also deviate graphologically from the English code, especially in those areas that Izon linguistic features are employed.
The graphology of a poem gives beauty to a poem. The accepted code of English poem is to begin each line with a capital letter and end with a small letter. Any violation of this rule is a deviation from the norm. But some poets intentionally deviate from this norm and arrange their poems in different ways. It is worthy to note here that graphological deviations also have their own underlying information and these information need to be interpreted.  Yeibo deviated graphologically in his collections in divert ways especially, For Hamza Al-Mustapha, where the entire poem is arranged haphazardly in a truncated manner. The haphazardly truncated manner of the poem is used to address a recent political incident thereby making mockery of the Nigerian Judiciary.
Graphology is wider than orthography because it refers to the whole writing system, punctuation, paragraphing as well as spelling. Graphology affects phonology because a word is pronounced as it is written.
         Semantic Deviation. Semantics is the branch of linguistics which studies the meaning of words, phrases, clauses, sentences, etc. Semantic deviation in poetry has to do with the use of words by a poet to mean things other than their canonical meanings in a language. Yeibo in his collections deviated severally by extending the meanings of some words and dislocating the meanings of others. For instance, the English word hippopotamus is a name given to a large grey African animal with a big head and mouth that lives near water. Yeibo dislocated its meaning by using it to refer to the Federal Government of Nigeria. Another instance of semantic deviation found in Yeibo’s poetry is the use of town crier. In English, town crier is someone employed to walk round the streets of a town, shouting news, warnings etc. but Yeibo also dislocated its meaning.      He used it to refer to the lamentation of the Niger Delta people.
         Dialectal Deviation. Dialect is a variety of a language that is spoken only in one area, with words or grammar that are slightly different from other forms of the same language spoken by other people.  Dialectal deviation does not have much impact on our work because English and Izon are not the same language. Though, Yeibo’s dialect in the Izon language affects his choice of words and grammar which he translates into the English language. Some examples of dialectal difference in Yeibo’s poetry are eseni,biran, and abuko which are indi, bura and bugo in kolokuma dialect of the same Izon language.
            Deviation of Register. Register is the technical words, style and grammar used by speakers and writing in a particular situation or in a particular type of writing. The job a person does affects his choice of words. For instance, a lawyer uses words differently from a doctor, and a journalist from an accountant. The different ways these professions use language is what is referred to as register. Modern poets have asserted their freedom from constraints of ‘poetical’ language. It is therefore to the present age that we turn for the most striking examples of poetic licence in the domain of register (Leech 50). The poet or creative writer employs a unique freedom, amongst users of the language, to range over all its communicative resource, without respect to the social or historical contexts to which they belong. This means, amongst other things, that the poet can borrow features belonging to other, non-literary uses of language in some of their poems. Yeibo is not an exception to this, he used poetic language in his poetry which is different from ordinary language. That is why some of his poems appear simple at the superficial level. But when  you read further, you find the complexity of the words. The poet has no boundary with respect to dialect and register.
          Deviation of Historical Period. History is the study of the past, especially areas that affect us and relating it to the present. The English language study has passed through many stages, ranging from the dark ages to the present day. That is why we have the Old English, Middle English and Modern English. The studies of the Old English and Middle English are documented. Some poets still make use of some archaic words in their modern day poems. The poet is not restricted to the language of his own period. The medium of English poetry in the English language viewed as a historical whole, not just as a synchronous system shared by the writer and his contemporaries. James Joyce thought that a writer must be familiar with the history of his language –that he must, in short, be a philologist. T.S. Eliot expressed a similar point of view,in more general terms, when he insisted that no poet…….has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists (Leech 51).
In a bid to be familiar with the history of the English language and the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists, Yeibo used some archaic terms in his poetry to send  his message. These archaic words add aesthetic value to his work and make him a proficient writer.                                                                                                                         
    Yeibo’s use of Izon linguistic features in his collections has connections with almost all Leech’s types of deviation discussed above because the Izon linguistic features in the study include lexical borrowing which is connected with lexical deviation where the Izon lexical items deviate from the English lexical items. The other types of Leech’s deviation also have links with Yeibo’s use of Izon linguistic features because the features themselves are deviations.
1.7    Review of Related Scholarship and Justification of Study  
    Ebi Yeibo’s works have attracted critical comments from various readers, scholars, and people of different endeavours in life. The comments and criticisms from various individuals on Ebi Yeibo’s works include his imaginative use of language to portray his ideas and feelings, his aesthetic use of Ijaw linguistic features in his works, his use of poetic devices, rhythm and musicality etc.
1.7.1    Scholarship Relating to Theme
One of those who have commented on the themes in Yeibo’s poetry is Ogaga Okuyade. Okuyade examines Yeibo’s The Fourth Masquerade and discusses the themes of corruption, poverty, bureaucratic inefficiency of government and institutional decay of the Niger Delta. According to Okuyade, Yeibo has continued to express through poetry his dissatisfaction of the political leaders as they oppress the people of the area and refuse to develop the area. Okuyade’s comments also extend to Yeibo’s Shadows of the Setting Sun as he (Okuyade) discusses the themes of failure, political instability, economic bondage, and broken covenant. To Okuyade, the same set of politicians crippling the nation are the same people responsible for the propagation of the political programme. These politicians do not want to leave office for others. They want to rule perpetually and oppress the masses. Okuyade’s discussions on the themes in Yeibo’s The Fourth Masquerade and Shadows of the Setting Sun support our work as we are concerned with how Yeibo deploys the Izon linguistic features in his poetry to address the issues of poverty, oppression, infrastructural, moral and institutional decay, the deplorable conditions under which the Niger Delta people negotiate their existence, the threatened Niger Delta scape and the lingering effects of colonialism on the African Continent.
    Another critic who comments on the themes in Yeibo’s poetry is Sunny Awhefeada. Awhefeada discusses the themes of comfort, assurance, broken covenants, and embattlement. Although, Awhefeada’s comments are on themes, he (Awhefeada) says Yeibo discusses the themes of comfort, assurance, broken covenants, and embattlement in a sarcastic and metaphoric manner. Awhefeada’s themes also complement Okuyade’s themes as they both discuss the failures of political leaders and their inhuman attitudes towards the Niger Delta people. Both Okuyade and Awhefeada’s comments support our work as we are concerned about the relationship between the oppressing political leaders and the oppressed Niger Deltans.
    Austine Amanze Akpuda is another critic who comments on Yeibo’s poetry. Akpuda’s comments are on the themes of courage, destruction and forcefulness. Akpuda says Yeibo’s use of these themes is capable of inviting for the sheer bravado of naming wrongs the way masquerades do in Nigeria (10). Akpuda’s comments are centered on Yeibo’s The Fourth Masquerade. Neither Shadows of the Setting Sun nor The Forbidden Tongue is discussed. Thus, our scope is wider in the present research.
    Luke Eyoh discusses the themes of courage, protest, and the beauty of unity. The themes of Eyoh are also connected to our work because The Forbidden Tongue talks about the courage the Niger Deltans should summon so that they can unite and protest against the oppression on them. Eyoh’s comments are brief and direct. His comments are on The Forbidden Tongue alone, nothing about Shadows of the Setting Sun and The Fourth Masquerade is mentioned.
    Isidore Diala also comments on Yeibo’s poetry. His discussion is on the themes of grief, endurance and passion. Diala’s comments like Eyoh’s are also brief and direct. Diala’s comments do not make much impact on our work because they are too brief. Besides, they are only centered on The Forbidden Tongue. No comment is made on Shadows of the Setting Sun, neither on The Fourth Masquerade.
1.7.2     Scholarship Relating to Language, Style and Literary Devices
    Language according to J. D. Murthy is the medium of communication through which we express our emotions, ideas, feelings and thoughts to our fellow people.
    The concept style is difficult to define (Vallins I62). We are faced with so much ambiguity in the meaning of the word style, but in relation to literature, style is the manner of writing which differentiates a person from another writer. Poetry is a literary form in which language is peculiarly patterned for effect and the reflection of the feelings of the composer. “Preface to the Lyrical Ballads”, William Wordsworth defines poetry as the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings recollected in tranquility.”
The language and style of Yeibo’s poetry have attracted many comments from different people. One of those who comments on the language and style of Yeibo’s poetry is Ogaga Okuyade. Okuyade comments on Yeibo’s use of metaphors, paradox, euphemism, simile, imagery and symbolism. According to Okuyade, Yeibo’s use of these literary devices shows his competence in the literary world. Okuyade further adds that Yeibo’s use of these literary devices in his poetry is focused on the evolving social, cultural, and political events, and how geography, economics, and politics connive to deny the Niger Delta people their God-given right to manage and enjoy the natural resources in the area (12). The Niger Delta people have been marginalized for decades. Yeibo, who is from the Niger Delta, in a bid to express his ill-feelings about the government on how they treat his people, does this through poetry. Okuyade also adds that Yeibo has been humorous and sarcastic in his collection “For Hamza Al-Mustapha”. In this poem, Yeibo provokes laughter by weaving a recent national issue into a popular Ijaw folklore about an elusive fish that is capable of making fun of the fisherman and his fishing paraphernalia, no matter how skillful he deploys his fishing kits. The poem addresses a recent political issue where the judiciary which was supposed to be the hope of the people, connived with the political leaders and compromised. Okuyade’s comments on Yeibo’s style and literary devices in his poetry are so much related to our work because he talks about euphemism, imagery and paradox which go in line with our Izon proverbs. Although, Okuyade’s comments here are related to our work, he does not talk much on The Forbidden Tongue. His emphasis is on the The Fourth Masquerade and Shadows of the Setting Sun.   
    Another critic who comments on the language, style and literary devices of Yeibo’s poetry is Austine Amanze Akpuda. Akpuda’s comments are centered mainly on the language of Yeibo’s The Fourth Masquerade. Akpuda says the language of The Fourth Masquerade is deceptive in nature because it looks simple at the superficial level but great depth is to be found underneath (10). He says the qualities of directness and deceptive simplicity become immediately apparent to anyone who picks this collection for the first time. As you read-on, you discover in no time that you are sailing onto the deep waters of puzzlement. Akpuda, who is interested in Yeibo’s use of language in his poetry, further adds that Yeibo deploys the storytelling motif, which helps him advance meaning. Storytelling is the most readily accessible and most popular African tradition of conveying message. The poem begins with a traditional African festival where the poet underscores the centrality of the gods in achieving his vision. A typical African festival subsumes the spiritual and the physical, represented by masquerades, gods and humanity who must work together. Yeibo fantacizes the beauty and harmony the world would attain if man and gods work in one accord. Again, Akpuda’s comments also have connection with our work because the Izon oral tradition is full of storytelling. When a typical Izon man wants to advise, caution and admonish, he uses tales which is part of the culture. Our work is on the Izon linguistic features. Therefore, the language which is in connection with our study of the Izon proverbs is best achieved. Although, Akpuda’s comments support our work, they are limited to The Fourth Masquerade. Neither The Forbidden Tongue nor Shadows of the Setting Sun is mentioned.
    E. E. Sule is another scholar who comments on Yeibo’s poetry. Sule discusses the humorous and satiric nature of Yeibo’s collections, especially The Fourth Masquerade. Sule, just like Okuyade also comments on Yeibo’s satiric nature as he addresses the corrupt judicial system of Nigeria through the popular Hamza Al-Mustapha’s case. According to Sule, while being satiric, Yeibo’s collection also provokes anger, especially because of the certainty of freedom the judiciary offers the political class even in the full glare of the masses. Sule also points out that Yeibo’s poetic reflections on the Niger Delta are so engaging and artistically arousing a sense of sadness and regret (13). The comments of Sule on Yeibo’s poetry reveals the creative and knowledgeable nature of the poet in his language as he (Yeibo) uses the Izon linguistic features in his poetry to send heartfelt messages to his readers. Note here again that Sule’s comments are centered on Yeibo’s artistic use of language which supports our work, but his comments do not touch Shadows of the Setting Sun, neither do they touch The Forbidden Tongue. His comments only rely on Yeibo’s The Fourth Masquerade.
    Luke Eyoh also discusses the literary devices of alliteration, consonance, irony and imagery. Eyoh says the use of these devices is musical and courageous in Yeibo’s poetry. Music is a motivation factor in the life of humans, especially when they want to unanimously carry out a task in one accord. The Niger Deltans need to be courageous to fight against the oppression on them by the government. Eyoh’s comments are very brief and direct, but so powerful. Although powerful, and supports our work, his comments appear only on The Forbidden Tongue. Our scope is wider in the present research.
    Yeibo’s collections also attract comments from Isidore Diala, who discusses the literal devices of personification, oxymoron and imagery. Diala’s comments, like Eyoh’s, are also very brief and direct, but so powerful and passionate, as he says the language of Yeibo’s poetry is capable of transforming anger into hope. But he talks only on The Forbidden Tongue, and nothing is said on both The Fourth Masquerade and Shadows of the Setting Sun. Since Diala’s comments centre only on one of Yeibo’s collections, they do not make much impact on our work because our work is wider in the present research.
    J.O.J. Nwachukwu-Agbada also discusses the devices of metaphor, personification and symbolism. Nwachukwu-Agbada says the metaphors in Yeibo’s poetry come to us like fragrances that we would live to remember forever. Nwachukwu-Agbada also adds that the language of Yeibo’s poetry is so alluring and gives hope to the enduring Niger Deltans. The language is seen as capsules that cure our emotional sicknesses. Nwachukwu-Agbada’s comments as brief as they are also talk about The Forbidden Tongue alone. Nothing is said about the other two collections, therefore, the impact on our work is not much.
    Okuyade’s comments also complement Sunny Awhefeada’s comments which say that Yeibo’s poetry occupies a vibrant space when discussing the history and evolution of modern Nigerian poetry in English (8). Both Okuyade and Awhefeada are of the view that Yeibo is even more visible within the corpus of writing we today label Niger Delta literature – a literature which is not only combative, but is gradually becoming programmatic and ritualistic (8). It is worthy to note here that while Okuyade’s comments on the language and style appear on both Yeibo’s The Fourth Masquerade and Shadows of the Setting Sun, Awhefeada’s comments appear only on Shadows of the Setting Sun. Sunny Awhefeada establishes that from a close reading of Yeibo’s Shadows of the Setting Sun, one can easily observe remarkable development in his poetry, especially at the level of technical maturity (8). His argument is that Yeibo’s Shadows of the Setting Sun is undoubtedly the finest contribution to contemporary African poetry in English, for now when one considers the question of craft and message (8-9). He says that the poems in the Shadows of the Setting Sun unlike the poems in other collections are held together by a central recurring motif and the symbols and images he deploys are not only well organized, they vividly reinforce, concretize and configure the material subjects they are meant to articulate (9). One trait one easily notices in this collection is the nature of Yeibo’s language; one easily observes how the poet arranges his symbols and images, his use of folk materials for Izon oral tradition and its prosody and the charming grip of the Ethiopia River (9). Awhefeada also pointed out that a recognizable and distinctive Yeiboan voice has emerged with the publication of Shadows of the Setting Sun at the level of language and idea (9). Yeibo’s Poems in the Shadows of the Setting Sun have two influences at work: they carry the volcanic enchantment of Okigbo’s poetry and the sagacity and elegance of Osundare (9). Note here again that, although Awhefeada’s comments support our work, they are limited to Shadows of the Setting Sun. Neither The Fourth Masquerade nor The Forbidden Tongue is discussed.
    Other critics that comment on Yeibo’s writings are James Tar Tsaaior, Joe Ushie, Toyin Adewale–Gabriel, Maik Nwosu, and Tanure Ojaide. These critics commented on Yeibo’s collections that they are capable of penetrating deep into the very sub-soil of his (Yeibo’s) Niger Delta cultural milieu like the aristocratic iroko tree, generously investing it with a histo- contextual halo and cultural continuum (12). In Yeibo’s poetic hemisphere, he wonders and wanders in thus vast waste land without refreshing oases called Nigeria like that peripatetic griot or troubadour weaving songs that denounce the perfidies and malfeasances of those who have imposed themselves on the nation as soldiers and politicians and yet without any sense of patriotic fervor, vision and mission, besides their egocentric ends and self-aggrandisement ((13). Yeibo laments the squelching of our dreams, the squandering of our fervent hopes and aspirations and the stunting of our once luxuriant and ambitious growth. He yearns for national renaissance as historic counterpoint to the ostensible interminable nightmare we have been struggling unavailingly to wake up form (13). Their criticisms are on Yeibo’s stylistic use of poetic language to express his dissatisfaction of the way political leaders treat his Niger Delta people in spite of the fact that they produce the oil that the entire nation feeds on. These comments also have a link with our work, though they are centred on Yeibo’s A Song for Tomorrow and other Poems which is not part of our work. Our work is on Yeibo’s The Fourth Masquerade, Shadows of the Setting Sun, and The Forbidden Tongue.
1.8    Thesis Statement    
Ebi Yeibo deploys Izon lexical borrowings, code-switching, Izon proverbs and idioms, native rhetorical patterns as well as semantic extension and dislocation to address the issues of corruption, poverty, bureaucratic inefficiency of government, infrastructural, moral and institutional decay of government in the Niger Delta.

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Project Details

Department English
Project ID ENG0028
Price ₦3,000 ($9)
Chapters 5 Chapters
No of Pages 54 Pages
Methodology Descriptive
Reference YES
Format Microsoft Word

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    Project Details

    Department English
    Project ID ENG0028
    Price ₦3,000 ($9)
    Chapters 5 Chapters
    No of Pages 54 Pages
    Methodology Descriptive
    Reference YES
    Format Microsoft Word

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