illustrated portrait of Igbo Nigerian author Chinua Achebe

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What is the theme of the poem "Bull and Egret" by Chinua Achebe?

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The theme of this powerful poem is about the negative effects of decolonial struggle in Nigeria. The speaker uses the imagery of the bull and the egret to talk about the Biafran War in Nigeria from 1967 to 1970. In 1967, rebels fought against the Nigerian government that was only interested in protecting the elite and powerful in the country who benefited from market relations with European and US companies and business people.

The poet speaks to how the rebels were the mighty bull, different from the regular cattle. The bull, however, was isolated and, according to the poet, was destined for extinction. The poet is sadly recognizing that rebellion was fruitless against the powers of the Nigerian government, even with the help of the egret, who represents the supporters of the rebellion.

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