restricted access Literary Militancy and Helon Habila's Oil on Water
Abstract

ABSTRACT:

In this article, I argue that the strident response of Nigerian writers, in the form of belligerent discourse of resistance, to the systematic destruction of the environment and its inhabitants in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria could be taken as literary militancy. This literary militancy is provoked by what one may see as the tripartite system of ruination, having three agents of destruction, namely the multinational oil corporations, the federal soldiers, and the local militias who call themselves militants. Because of their huge appetite for petrodollars, the oil companies cause the existence of local militias and federal soldiers, set against each other to fight while the companies continue to release toxins into air, lands, and waters. In the end, the local communities suffer and die from not only physical violence, as the soldiers and militias unleash terror on them, but from nonphysical, attritional violence that, many scholars of environmentalism agree, is worse. Literary militancy emerges as a discourse force to confront this system of ruination, condemning the aforementioned agents of destruction. To this end, I read Helon Habila's Oil on Water, concluding that it is imperative to see Habila's narrative as a crucial discourse action in the mold of the literary militancy struggling to liberate the region—a form of eco-literary instrumentalism gaining currency in Nigeria.


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