Project

Biafra’s Self-Canonization: Subverting Postcolonial Myths in Selected Nigeria-Biafra War Novels and Memoirs

Program

African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships

Abstract

This research investigates the literary representation of the distinctive influence of postcolonial myths on Igbo-Biafran identity and how the Igbo-Biafrans seek to subvert these myths by deploying the counter-myth of self-heroism. Myth, used here as an ideologically motivated narrative, has been regarded as a colonial strategy of cultural and political domination. There is literary evidence of the representation of Igbo-Biafrans as “untrustworthy” in colonial discourse resulting in their being treated not only with suspicion but also as subalterns by most non-Igbo Nigerians. Arguing that this ideological framing of identity plays a significant role in the endless Biafran agitation for secession, this project seeks to demonstrate that the agitations of other ethnic-based insurgent groups like the militants in the Niger-Delta, the herdsmen in the Middle Belt, the Boko-Haram in the North East and the Bandits in the North-west extend and complicate the Biafran legacy and the question of postcolonial contradictions in Nigeria. Drawing on postcolonial discursive strategies, especially Homi Bhabha’s theory of colonial mimicry, the study aims to analyse selected Nigeria-Biafra war novels and memoirs to show how the myth of “Igbo- Biafran untrustworthiness,” is subverted by the counter- myth of “Igbo-Biafran heroism.” It further articulates how new generation Biafran writers rethink ethnic identity by offering alternative accommodationist insights that negotiate peaceful co-existence in a multi-ethnic space like Nigeria.