Popular Art, Alternative Imaginaries, and Being Retrieval


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Humanities & Culture


One outcome of the media-driven space of “postcolonial” Nigeria is the role of orality and the verbal artist in reinscribing indigenous languages and culture into popular acceptance and contemporary history. Emerging mass culture in the verbal arts, signposting Nigeria’s entry into the postcolonial/postmodernist phase, has helped in creating a site of cultural identity very much at variance with the one imposed by British rule. Such reconstitution of the colonial/indigenous subject via the “vernacular” medium of popular culture is a sometimes unconscious and often decanonical enterprise that displaces English and other foreign codes as signs of “high” culture and civilisation, providing as an alternative a metissage of signs whose ultimate outcome could be positive for the overall development of society. With insights gained from literary, postcolonial, and cultural studies, this study explores the theme of national identity implicit in the efflorescence of indigenous languages in popular cultural practices in Nigeria.