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In his essay "Christopher Okigbo and the Postcolonial Market of Memories," Maik Nwosu makes a number of arguments, many them expertly summed up by Nwosu in the “abstract” that precedes the article:
The association of Christopher Okigbo’s poetry with Anglo-American modernist poetics has often attracted two main types of evaluation: the failure of ideology and Eurocentrism. But Okigbo demonstrates literary dexterity in the manner in which the deep structure of his poetry troubles the historical overvaluation of the white sign and the devaluation of the black sign manifest in the colonial market of memories between Europe and Africa. Historical dialogism or a postcolonial market of memories—involving the invocation of both the local and the foreign, the specific and the universal—is a strategic feature of Okigbo’s poetry. He ultimately creates a third signifying field via a conjunction of two signifying systems, the native and the colonial, into a new state of consciousness rooted in a traditional African mythic code.
In other words, Okigo’s poetry achieves a kind of writing that somehow mediates between “the native and the colonial,” producing something innovative but also traditional.
As Nwosu elaborates on these basic claims, the following more specific assertions are made:
- Okigo’s work was influenced by modern (and modernist) writers of the west.
- Okigo’s work tries to see connections between what is African and what is universal, and between what is universal and what is African.
- Okigo sometimes has been criticized for being too much influenced by European traditions.
- Okigo is nevertheless influenced by native African religion, particularly in the way he presents Christianity.
- Ultimately Okigo manages to escape domination either by European precedents or by African traditions; instead, he uses both influences to create something new.
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