Scholarship on Niger Delta ecopoetry has concentrated on the economic, socio-political and cultural implications of eco-degradation in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of the South-South in Nigeria, but falls short of addressing the trope of eco-alienation, the sense of separation between people and nature, which seems to be a significant idea in Niger Delta ecopoetics. For sure, literary studies in particular and the Humanities at large have shown considerable interest in the concept of the Anthropocene and the resultant eco-alienation which has dominated contemporary global ecopoetics since the 18th century. In the age of the Anthropocene, human beings deploy their exceptional capabilities to alter nature and its essence, including the ecosystem, which invariably leads to eco-alienation, a sense of breach in the relationship between people and nature. For the Humanities, if this Anthropocentric positioning of humans has brought socio-economic advancement to humans, it has equally eroded human values. This paper thus attempts to show that the anthropocentric positioning of humans at the center of the universe, with its resultant hyper-capitalist greed, is the premise in the discussion of eco-alienation in Tanure Ojaide’s Delta Blues and Home Songs
(1998) and Nnimmo Bassey’s We Thought It Was Oil but It Was Blood
(2002). Arguing that both poetry collections articulate the feeling of disconnect between the inhabitants of the Niger Delta region and the oil wealth in their community, the paper strives to demonstrate that the Niger Delta indigenes, as a result, have been compelled to perceive the oil environment no longer as a source of improved life but as a metaphor for death. Relying on ecocritical discursive strategies, and seeking to further foreground the implication of the Anthropocene in the conception of eco-alienation, the paper demonstrates how poetry, as a humanistic discipline, lives up to its promise as a powerful medium for interrogating the trope of eco-estrangement both in contemporary Niger Delta ecopoetry and in global eco-discourse.
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