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QUEST FOR POLITICAL LEADERSHIP IN CHINUA ACHEBE ANTHILLS OF THE SAVANNAH AND CHUKWUEMEKA IKE THE SEARCH

QUEST FOR POLITICAL LEADERSHIP IN CHINUA ACHEBE ANTHILLS OF THE SAVANNAH AND CHUKWUEMEKA IKE THE SEARCH

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Abstract

The main aim of this study was to examine the quest for political leadership in Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah and Chukwuemeka Ike’s The Search. The researcher adopted a qualitative research method for the study which relies on the analysis of some extrapolation of the primary texts (Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah and Chukwuemeka Ike’s The Search.)

The theoretical model that was adopted as theoretical frameworks for this study was Karl Marx Marxist literary criticism which views literature as an artistic construct with intrinsic socio-political and economic structures. It was however discovered through the characters in the two texts understudy had a quest for political office but their quest and motives where that of corruption and embezzlement of public funds which was meant for the development of the society but due to their inordinate desire for material wealth

to the detriment of the poor electorates who gave them the mandate to govern them, they diverted the public funds to their own pocket thereby leaving the society underdeveloped with no electricity, good roads, drinkable water, schools, and even public health cares.  Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah and Chukwuemeka Ike’s The Search portray a clear pictures of 90 percent of Nigerian political office holders who don’t care for the welfare of the common citizens.  

QUEST FOR POLITICAL LEADERSHIP IN CHINUA ACHEBE ANTHILLS OF THE SAVANNAH AND CHUKWUEMEKA IKE THE SEARCH

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

The issue of leadership and governance has always been quite topical in Africa in general, and Nigeria, in particular. This stems from the socio-political experiences of the continent. Nigeria is regarded as the giant of Africa in terms of its population and economy. The country is more populous than several countries put together. However, the country has remained in the doldrums in terms of meaningful development in all spheres despite its enormous human and economic resources.

This underdevelopment does not stem from lack of individual capacity or zeal to embark on the process.( Coleman,16) Neither does it result from intellectual poverty with regards to evolving meaningful ideas that would foster development in the relevant sectors. However, according to Fiedler, the continued underdevelopment of the country with the attendant impoverishment of the populace is rather, the result of societal failure, epitomized in a debilitating systemic emasculation of the populace by a leadership made up of those who are inexorably focused on a morbid destruction of cherished social values in order to protect their selfish interests.

Unfortunately, these people continue to remain at the helm of affairs as they have put structures in place to ensure their perpetuation in positions of authority.

Chinua Achebe’s generally adapt to the notion that independence is a sources of disillusionment to most black Africans because it has failed to deliver the key objective that triggered the call for independence. The two authors introduces a paradigm shift from the culture of blame shifting which is characterized mostly by polemics (defending by attacks) against colonialism towards a culture of internal focus.

The sad aspect of current African politics is blaming colonial encounter as responsible for misgoverning, yet most of the blames lies on endogenous factors behind that such as corruption, nepotism, manipulation of media, politics of lies, demonization of democratic values, politics of deception, self aggrandizement, ethnicization of politics and naturalization of election violence in a sense,  it is not a fulfillment of expectations but a nightmare, an illusion that generated a false sense of arrival.

Ibagere, opine that the Post colonial elite of independent Africa championed the first movement of African nationalism, which coerced its political demands in terms drawn from European nationalists’  thought when colonization  came to Africa accepted it as a beginning of a new era to bring and deliver a human right culture and a democratic dispensation. Bad leadership and oppressive government are the worst forms of government affecting every society of the world today.

This is why Chinua Achebe the problems of Nigeria that are not left out of the evils of bad leadership and oppressive governance. These writers used their literary works as arsenals for effective change in their societies.

According to Chisano, Nigerian quest for leadership is most seen as an avenue for looting and illegal gathering of wealth. Bad leadership and oppressive government are the worst forms of government affecting every society of the world today. This is why Chinua Achebe and Ayi Armah expose the problems of Nigeria and Ghana as countries that are not left out of the evils of bad leadership and oppressive governance. These writers used their literary works as arsenals for effective change in their societies.

Equally, Ibagere, Elo and Omoera, affirm that  African writers as social crusaders, use literature as proactive tool for exposing the evils committed by colonial masters, the present political leaders and what is happening in the society. For example in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Armah describes the level of corruption, bad governance and exploitation which has caused psychosocial effect on the poor citizens of Ghana. He also writes for the Ghanaian government to provide the citizens with their human and political rights and put an end on issues affecting the masses. Similarly, Achebe in his essay entitled The Trouble with Nigeria says:

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There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land, climate, water, air or anything else. But, the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. Nigerian problem is the unwillingness of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which is the hallmarks of true leadership (1).

The above assertion is awful to Nigerian politicians, their quest for power and their unwillingness to quit corrupt practices and help the masses. Achebe and Chukwuemeka novels therefore portray a clear object of corruption, indiscipline and political thuggery among others which culminated in poor governance due to corrupt leaders.

It is for this reason that the researcher is prompted to examine Quest for political leadership in Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah and Chukwuemeka Ike’s The Search with a view to finding the motive behind the quest for political leadership by Nigerian politicians and Africa in general.

QUEST FOR POLITICAL LEADERSHIP IN CHINUA ACHEBE ANTHILLS OF THE SAVANNAH AND CHUKWUEMEKA IKE THE SEARCH

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Over the years, the quest for political leadership in our nation from the local level to the federal level has been in the high side, reason being that political office now becomes the fastest and the surest way of getting wealth overnight, due to this reason, the corridor of power has become more crowded. It is however been noticed that godfatherism have become the surest way which political leader ascend to power.

It is also obvious; the Nigerian masses are suffering due to bad governance and oppressive system of government. Indices of this bad governance include: exploitation, selfishness, corruption, bribery and embezzlement of government funds. While oppressive government facilitates criminal enterprises such as money laundering, restriction of human rights and illegal abuse of power by maladjusted cognitive and behavioural processes.

It is on this notion the key problem of this study forms the bad government corrupt nature of the political leaders’ in Nigeria. It is n this backdrop that this work seeks to examine examine Quest for political leadership in Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah and Chukwuemeka Ike’s The Search

1.3 purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to examine quest for political leadership in Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah and Chukwuemeka Ike’s The Search. Specifically, the study will also;

  1. examine the motives behind political leadership quest in Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah and Chukwuemeka Ike’s The Search
  2. examine the effects of bad leadership and oppressive government in Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah and Chukwuemeka Ike’s The Search.
  3. portrays the main issues behind bad leadership and oppressive government in Nigeria
  4. proffer solutions to the above problems and investigate the authors’ points of writing these novels.

1.4 Significance of the Study

This study will be important to the Nigerian government on the issues affecting the masses as a result of bad leadership, corruption and embezzlement the government fund that was supposed to carter for the welfare of the masses.

The Studies will also use the findings of this study useful for further research work. Educational planners will also see this work important by introducing Chinua Achebe’s novels to the teachers teach the student the important of literature and the effects of bad government and why it should be aborted for the betterment of the society.

1.5 Methodology

The methodology for this research work is a qualitative research which relies on the analysis of some extrapolation of the primary texts. The research will also avail itself of some critical works. Magazines and other periodical drawn from the library will also be examined. This research will also exploit the internet space for some online materials related to the subject of the research.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This scope of this study is limited quest for political leadership in Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah and Chukwuemeka Ike’s The Search. This is to enable the researcher complete the work within the stipulated time. Therefore, all conclusions are based on textual analysis of the selected texts.

1.7 Theoretical Framework

The theoretical model that will be adopted as theoretical frameworks for this study was Karl Marx Marxist literary criticism which views literature as an artistic construct with intrinsic socio-political and conomic structures. Mortimer Adler explains that the social relationship according to Marx and Engels is a “ history of class struggles where oppressor and oppressed stood in constant opposition with one another…a fight that each timer ended either in a revolutionary reconstruction of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes”(419).

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This simply means that a fictional work is a composition of literary consciousness inspired by historical facts, social, economic and political events which can influence the novelist’s narration and depiction of human experiences. Terry Eagleton explains that “it is the characteristic of Marxism that it refuses to on the one hand a retreat from social and political into ‘discourse’, while also refusing a cynical or defeatist complicity with social existence as we know it”(x).

Therefore, the Marxist critic offers interpretation of a literary work by discussing and evaluating its ideology through the critical lens of Marxism. Marxist criticism is anchored on the economic and political ideologies of the radical German but London based thinkers, Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1899), who chided vehemently the autocracy of the bourgeoisie class in a capitalist system.

The above mentioned philosophers view capitalism as a new form of feudalism because the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ has become so polarized. This polarity is as a result of the exploitation of the proletariats by the economic class or the bourgeoisies who control the means of production and distribution. However, it is believed that the marginalization and oppression can be controlled by creating a revolutionary consciousness that gears towards replacing an oppressive social structure with a more transparent one in the form of ‘socialism’. M.A.R Habib goes further to explain that:

The influence of Marx’s ideas on modern world history has been vast. Until the collapse in 1991, of the communist systems of USSR and Eastern Europe, one-third of the world’s population had been living under political administrations claiming descent from Marx’s idea. His impact on the world of thought has been equally extensive, embracing sociology, philosophy, economics, and cultural theory.

Marxism has also generated a rich tradition of literary and cultural criticism. Many branches of modern criticism- Including historicism, feminism, deconstruction, postcolonial and cultural criticism-are indebted to the insights of Marxism, which often originated in the philosophy of Hegel. What distinguishes Marxism is that it is not only a political, economic, and social theory but also a form of practice in all of these domains. (208)

However, in the domain of Literature, writers and critics create their literary pieces by exploring the Marxist theory in their various interpretations of human experiences. Thus literary works become fictional pieces that contain or explore class distinction, oppression, exploitation, political/economic struggles and other forms of social problems inherent in a given society.

In doing this, the literary artist have succeeded in making the literary text a thematically self contained work possessing intrinsic revolutionary structure. In essence, the writer in depicting human experiences in his/ her novel, draws attention to some capitalist elements and at the same time creates awareness about them in order to project a revolutionary stance.

The understanding of literary texts through the limelight of Marxism influenced a great number of African writers who were confronted with colonial and postcolonial challenges. Hence, many of these writers employed Marxist ideologies as a veritable tool for fighting oppression and class distinction which is one of the major forms of social injustice.

1.8 Bio-Data of Authors

1.8.1 Bio-Data of Chinua Achebe:

Chinua Achebe was born on the   16 November 1930. He was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor and critic. He is a prominent Igbo writer, famous for his novels describing the effects of Western customs and values on traditional African society. He attended Government College in Umuahia in 1944. He later attended the University College of Ibadan, where he studied English, history and theology.

At the University, Achebe rejected his British name and took his indigenous name Chinua. Before joining the Nigerian Broadcasting Company in Lagos in 1954, he traveled to America and also worked for a short time as a teacher. In the 1960s he was the director of External Services in charge of the Voice of Nigeria.

During the Nigerian Civil War (1967-70) Achebe was in the Biafran government service and then taught at US and Nigerian Universities.  His later novels No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987) are set in Africa and describe the struggles of the African people to free themselves from European political influences. During the Nigeria’s tumultuous political period of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Achebe became politically active.

Most of his literary works of this time address Nigeria’s internal conflict (see Nigeria, Federal Republic of: Civil War). These books include the volumes of poetry Beware, Soul Brother (1971) and Christmas in Biafra (1973), the short-story collection Girls at War (1972), and the children’s book How the Leopard Got His Claws (1972).

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In 1971 Achebe helped to found the influential literary magazine Okike. His other writings include the essay collections Morning Yet on Creation Day (1975), which he later expanded under the title Hopes and Impediments (1988) and The Trouble with Nigeria (1983).

In 1990 Achebe was paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a serious car accident. Despite the setback however, he remained active and has continued writing and publishing.  In 2007 Achebe won the Man Booker International Prize for fiction and died 21 March 2013.

1.8.2 Bio-Data of Ike, Vincent Chukwuemeka

Ike, Vincent Chukwuemeka was born on April 28, 1931, in Ndikelionwu, Anambra, Nigeria; son of Charles and Dinah (Ezeani) Ike; married Adebimpe Olurinsola Abimbolu (alibrarian, professor of library science, and educational administrator), December 13, 1959; children: Osita Naanyelugo Adeolu Olusanya (son). Ethnicity: “Igbo.” Education: Attended Government College, Umuahia, Nigeria; University College, Ibadan, Nigeria, B.A., 1955; Stanford University, M.A., 1966.

CAREER: Teacher at a primary school in Amichi, Nigeria, 1950-51; teacher at a girls’ secondary school, Nkwerre, Nigeria, 1955-56; University College, Ibadan, Nigeria, administrative assistant and assistant registrar, 1957-60; University of Nigeria, Nsukka, deputy registrar, 1960-63, registrar and secretary to council, 1963-71; West African Examinations Council, Accra, Ghana, registrar and chief executive, 1971-79; Emekike and Co., executive chair, 1979—.

Daily Times of Nigeria Ltd., director, 1971-87; Times Leisure Services Ltd., chair, 1977-1979; University Press Ltd., director, 1978-2002; Nigerian Book Foundation, chair, 1991-93, president and chief executive, 1993—. Nigerian Universities Joint Superannuation Scheme, trustee, 1964-71; University of Nigeria, chair of planning and management committee, 1970; University of Jos, visiting professor, 1983-85; University of Benin, pro-chancellor and chair of governing council, 1990-91; Anambra State University of Science and Technology, pro-chancellor and chair of governing council, 2001—.

Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO, chair of culture sector, 1986-91; Nigerian Copyright Council, member of governing board and chair of technical committee, 1989-94; National Anti-Piracy Committee, chair, 1991-94. Republic of Biafra, provincial refugee officer in charge of Umuahia Province, 1968-69; headquarters scout commander in charge of Nsukka Province, 1970-71. Anglican Communion, member of General Synod of the Church of Nigeria, 1995-2002.

MEMBER: International PEN (vice president of Nigerian Centre, 1989-91), International Association for Educational Assessment (member of executive committee from Africa, 1975-78), Association of Nigerian. Authors (member of executive committee, 1982-83), Nigerian Institute of Management (fellow), Bible Society of Nigeria (life member), University of Ibadan Alumni Association (life member).

AWARDS, HONORS: UNESCO travel grant, 1954; fellow, U.S. Agency for International Development, 1962; Ford Foundation grant, 1966; honorary fellow, City and Guilds of London Institute of Publishers, 1978; honorary fellow, University of Iowa, 1987; named distinguished friend of the council, West African Examinations Council, 1994; D.Litt., University of Nigeria, 1998, and University of Lagos, 2000; distinguished alumnus award, University of Ibadan Alumni Association, 2000; decorated officer, Order of the Federal Republic (Nigeria), 2001.

WRITINGS:

  • Toads for Supper, Harvill Press (London, England), 1965.
  • The Naked Gods, Harvill Press (London, England), 1970.
  • The Potter’s Wheel, Harvill Press (London, England), 1973.
  • Sunset at Dawn: A Novel about Biafra, Harvill Press (London, England), 1976, reprinted, University Press (Ibadan, Nigeria), 1993.
  • The Chicken Chasers, Fontana (Douglas, Isle of Man), 1980.
  • Expo ’77, Fontana (London, England), 1980.
  • The Bottled Leopard, University Press (Ibadan, Nigeria), 1985.
  • Our Children Are Coming!, Spectrum Books (Ibadan, Nigeria), 1990.
  • The Search, Heinemann Educational Books Nigeria (Ibadan, Nigeria), 1991.
  • To My Husband from Iowa, Malthouse Press (Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria), 1996.
  • Conspiracy of Silence (novel), Longman Nigeria (Lagos, Nigeria), 2001.
  • The Accra Riviera (short stories), Oyster St. Iyke (Lagos, Nigeria), 2001.
  • University Development in Africa: The Nigerian Experience, Oxford University Press (Ibadan, Nigeria), 1976.
  • (Editor, with Emmanuel Obiechina and John Anenechukwu Umeh) The University of Nigeria, 1960-1985: An Experiment in Higher Education, University of Nigeria Press (Nsukka, Nigeria), 1986.
  • How to Become a Published Writer, Heinemann Educational Books Nigeria (Ibadan, Nigeria), 1991.
  • (Editor) Creating a Conducive Environment for Book Publishing: Proceedings of the Second Annual National Conference on Book Development, Nigerian Book Foundation (Awka, Nigeria), 1996.
  • (Editor) Meeting the Books Needs of the Rural Family, Nigerian Book Foundation (Awka, Nigeria), 1997.
  • (Editor) Directory of Nigerian Book Development, Nigerian Book Foundation (Awka, Nigeria), 1998.
  • (Editor) Ndikelionwu and the Spread of Christianity, privately printed (Ndikelionwu, Nigeria), 2000.
  • (Editor) The Book in 21st Century Nigeria and Universal Basic Education, Nigerian Book Foundation (Awka, Nigeria), 2000.
  • (Editor) Creating and Sustaining a Reading Culture, Nigerian Book Foundation (Awka, Nigeria), 2000.
  • Contributor to books and to periodicals. Member of editorial committee, African Writer, 1961-62; founding member of editorial committee, Okike, 1970-71

Mr. Harrison

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