restricted access "We all stand before history": (Re)Locating Saro-Wiwa in the Biafran War Canon


Since Ken Saro-Wiwa's execution in 1995, critical accounts of his intellectual legacy have tended to focus on the influence of the Ogoni struggle on his writing and as a consequence have overlooked the role played by the Nigeria-Biafra War in the development of his intellectual sensibility. Given that Saro-Wiwa worked as a government administrator during the war, and wrote a novel, a memoir, and a book of poetry in response to the conflict, this article works to relocate his legacy in the trajectory of Biafran War literature. By exploring Saro-Wiwa's negotiation of ideas of canon and history in his Biafran War writing, it argues that the civil war is a traumatic but transformative preoccupation of his literary and political work. In doing so, it draws on theoretical insights about the self-reflexive narration of history and trauma and engages with the potential for poetry to textually reembody marginalized voices.