social relevance of niyi osundare’s (the eye of the earth)

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social relevance of niyi osundare’s (the eye of the earth)

This study proposes to bring out the social relevance of Niyi Osundare’s The Eye of the Earth. African Oral aesthetics or the Social relevance are the verbal parts of African Oral Literature, Osundare uses this extensively in most of his work and this study aims at looking at that. Systematic sampling will be used for the selection of the poems for analysis, and the concept of this formalism will be the basis at which it will be analyzed. It will give credence to Osundare’s volatile poetic version which is one thing that has attribute him various stand amongst critics and scholars and it has enhance meaning and imagery and helped the statuesque of his poetic vision.



Table of Contents


1.0 Introduction

1.1 Purpose of the Study

1.2 Approach to the Study

1.3 Justification of Study

1.4 Scope of the Study

1.5 Organization of Chapters

1.6 Autobiography of Niyi Osundare

End Notes


Literature Review

2.1 Critical views on Niyi Osundare’s poetry

2.2 The form and dictions of Osundare’s poetry

2.3 An overview of formalist approach

End Notes


The Social relevance in Niyi Osundare’s

The Eye of the Earth

3.0 Preamble

3.1 Cultural Economic Setting of Niyi Osundare’s

The Eye of the Earth

End Notes


Summary of Conclusion

End Notes




In African oral traditions, poetry carries the existential experience of Africans. In Yoruba cosmology for instance, there is a recitations called ‘Ewi’, for some professionally trained Orators known as ‘Akewi’, which narrates and express communal, moral and at times, romantic subject. At times, it becomes a fundamental commentary on some injustices in the traditional community. Without poetry among the Yoruba’s and Africans as a whole nothing can never be achieve in their world of traditional. In other words, there is a huge dependence on the traditional African community, as it outlines the society they live in.

Poetry in modern African literature appears to demonstrate a mild break with the literacy convictions of the first and second generation of poetry. In fact it is in this issue of form that Hugh Holman holds as a cardinal yardstick for demarcation when, he asserts that:

In a broad sense, modern is applied to writings markers

by a strong and conscious break with traditional

forms and technique forms and technique of expression

African poets appear to have demonstrated a well-marked departure from traditional poetic conventions. Their work portrays and demonstrates a radical rupturing or dislodging of traditional conventions.

Among the modern poets which belongs to the third generation, there abound quite a number often in “a deliberate artistic effort imaginatively transfer materials from oral, literature” and use them to handle modern themes in an amazingly creative fashion. The modern poets further reflects identity and national usefulness as a unifying subject matted; it speaks the mind of the pioneer poets such as Nnamdi Azikwe, Dennis Osadebey, David Diop, Sedar Senghor and their contemporaries against colonialism and imperialism. Their poems are response to the happenings of the society. While the responses to the happening are decrying rule of the Europeans over their environment and demanding self-government, the Franco-phone poets especially in West Africa, grow more protestant assertive of African culture and values. The degree of the latter’s reaction gives birth to an ideology called Negritude – “the cultural heritage, the values and above all the spirit of Negro-African civilization”.

Following closely behind the pioneer poets are the voices of Wole Soyinka, J.p Bekederemo Clark, Christopher Okigbo, Kofi Anyioko, Dennis Brutus, Niyi Osundare, Tanure Ojaide, among others. The poetry of this generation of poets attracted other local and foreign criticism. Their major works are wrapping traditional toga, cultural props and nuances creatively decorated with poetic expressions that are quick to register impression in the consciousness of the people. They present a fashionable fusion of arts and socio-cognizance of traditional aesthetics in a splendid conjunction.

African oral aesthetics or social relevance is the verbal components of African oral literature. They are equipments of traditional vernacular rhetoric’s and “traditional modes of linguistic expression”3. They are indicators of the oratorical skills of a setting, where the art of narration flourish for long before the arrival of writing. Traditional oral aesthetics include poetry of all kinds: Praise poetry, Zorges, Maiden chants, hunters chants, panegyrics, and a lot more as distinctively associated with different traditional settings, proverbs, chants, incantations and succinct witting sayings are parts of the traditional aesthetics. The aesthetics of these compositions are traceable to the artistic verbal associations of cleverly woven words and expressions that often involve a rhythmic and harmonious interplay. Their philosophical and ethical imports often indicate the height of their aesthetics.

This study essentially as used by Niyi Osundare in The Eye of the Earth.

The decision to conduct a research in social relevance, is primarily borne out of the researcher’s interest in the field of oral literature, the poetic genre in particular. The research is also geared towards examining the use of socio-cognizance of Osundare in his selected poems. It equally interested the researchers to observe that the poet is not merely reproducing the social artifacts. Rather he sees the traditional life as a resource center where traditional oral repertoire and creatively imbued and embellished with language rich enough to register effective messages in their reader’s mind. The need to embark on a scholarly voyage aimed at analyzing this poet creative effort is also one of the aims of this study.

All the poems in The Eye of the Earth will form the population of this research. The selection of poems will be done through systematic sampling method, the relevance of each sample shall be determined by its consonance to the crux of this treatise, which is centered on the use of socio-cognizance. The theory of formalism will be the base, which the sample will be analyzed.

According to Wumi Raji, (1999:212) ed.E. Adegbija: formalism refers to the emphasizing of formal element in a work of art thus emphasis of the school of formalism is the language which is ‘for grounded’ and this is especially true of the ports language as will be revealed.

The recorder will consult the library for available data, while enhance the relevance of the study to scholarship.


This study is paramount for the purpose of scholarship. It is also significant since it will illustrate the path of studies in oral literature in a way to stimulate other scholars’ interest in the field. And it will also ignite interest of contemporary and functional artistic imprints. It will also help to sound a call for the need to further functionality domesticate African poetry.


Within the generation of poet associated with a crystallization of cultural value into poetic forms a kind of poetic revolution that Funsho Aiyejina labeled “alternative tradition, Niyi Osundare is believed to occupy an increasingly looming place within tradition”. His poetry is believed to constitute a distinct revolution within the new poetic revolution. This creative distinction of Osundare poetic expressions has heavily influenced the choice of his works for this study.

Niyi Osundare has quite a number of works on poetry. For the purpose of this study of his work will be studied.

This is the Eye of the Earth. The collection is of poems therein the Eye of the Earth is chosen for this study because a thorough study of these indicates that they relate to the thematic concern of the study.

In addition it is relevant to stress that the poems in this work.

The Eye of the Earth are not bond by a central theme. For this not all the poems in collection are going to be used for the study of only those that sufficiently reflect the thematic concern.


This study to be structured under [4] for chapters. Chapter one is generally introductory. This is intended to spell out in detail the aims, justification, scope and limitations of the study it will reflect an amplification of what that proposal presents.

Chapter two is dedicated to harvest views, and opinion on the existing literature relevant to the theme of this study and there views would be critically synthesized.

Chapter three shall be dedicated to a diagnosis are critically examined and interpreted. And it will also show the use of socio-cognizance and the effectiveness of the use of cultural props.

And Chapter four is set to do more than a few things. Primarily it will harvest the findings of the work and relate them to the theme of the study. The chapter will also review the aims, and objective of the study to establish the extent of their accomplishment. This will summarize the research project conclusively.


Niyi Osundare was born in Ikere-Ekiti, Ondo State in 1947. he studies language and literature at Ibadan, Leeds and Toronto Universities. He is a Professor and heads the English faculty of Ibadan University. In his county, he is well known for his literacy reviews, comments and columns in the Nigeria Sunday Tribune in Series of article titled Says of the Season air at making poetry accessible.

Songs of the market place (1983) mark his debut for his collection, The Eye of the Earth (1986) he was awarded both the poetry prize of the Association of the Nigeria Authors and the commonwealth prize for poetry but he received other awards as well, such as the 1990 NOMA Award Africa’s most prestigious literacy prize.

Niyi Osundare’s poetry holds many images and its language is relevance He is very concerned with the fate of his continent and in quite a few poems refers back to the days proceeding relevance His performances of the 1991 poetry festival was memorable for his relevance It demonstrated his desire to return to the oral traditions of yester year which are at the roots of African poetry. social relevance He set an example for many young Nigerian authors and poets. His work reflects a great sense of humor and relevance He doesn’t write in a vacuum but holds mirrors in which his readers may see themselves in close up and with relevance.

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