1.1 Background to the Study
This study pursued an eco-criticism of militancy and environmental travail of selected Afrcia texts, Tomorrow Died Yesterday by Chimeka Garricks and Spiked Beyond Spikes by Ekanpou Enewaridideke. The topic aimed at elucidating on the remarkable relationship between militancy and environmental travail as explained in the chosen novels. Ecocriticism, also known as green studies or environmentalism, is a perspective that conceptualizes an understanding of humanity and the inseparable attribute to nature. Relating the idea of militancy to this definition of ecocriticism, human beings react to it environment as a result of the response received from the environment. According to Razieh et al (2014), argued that violence is a critical social issue that can be seen in people from any religion, race, educational, occupational, economic, or social values which is the environment. Thus, an immutable correlation exists between militancy and the environment.
Over the years, militancy has been said to have affected the environmental quality which include; socio-cultural conflict, economic conflict, ethnic conflict and most especially environmental degradation. As noted by Olaniyan (2017), he argued that environmental degradation in the Niger Delta have been woven around the activities of oil corporations, to the neglect of the contributing roles of the numerous militants operating in the Niger Delta and some part of Nigeria. Thus, in some African literary works, as long as characters are there and the space they occupy in defined, then the interaction may as well be ascertained. It was in the interest of this study that it focused on how the environment is presented in African novels, by focusing on how the environment contributes to characterization in militancy in the Niger Delta and how it relates to larger sociocultural and political overtones.
Furthermore, the selected texts of Ekanpou Enewaridideke Spiked Beyond Spikes and Chiemeka Garrick’s Tomorrow Died Yesterday’ aptly describe the interaction between man and his physical environment along with its attendant implications. The narratives in the selected texts are suggestive of a shift in focus of African writers from popular themes such as colonialism, post- colonialism, neo- colonialism, underdevelopment, bribery and corruption etcetera, to germane concerns that involve environmental degradation and exploitation of human and natural resources.
However, Slaymaker (2007) is of the opinion that African literature has not contributed much to ecocriticism as African writers perceive ecocriticism as a western concept and that it conflicts with African concerns. The opinion is open to criticism as it may be interpreted as to infer that African writers do not incorporate and indeed perceive ecocriticism in their writings and literary criticisms. What may be lacking are studies particularly on ecocriticism in African literary works, otherwise ecocritical elements are present in almost every African novel with characters and their surrounding environments, exhibiting immense environmental elements and linkages. Vambe (2013) acknowledges the paucity of publications on ecocriticism by observing that, “In Africa as a whole, and Zimbabwe in particular, published works on criticism of the representations of the environment in fiction are scarce” (p. 1). Thus, this study becomes crucial as it considered those aspects pertaining to ecocriticism in African texts.
Much influence for this study was derived from scholars like Zapf (2010), Barry (2009), and Love (2003), who allege that in recent years ecocriticism has become one of the most visible and productive new directions of literary and cultural studies. Since ecocriticism is relatively new in literary studies, there is need henceforth to carry out studies inclined to it as the findings will possibly help in finding imaginatively feasible solutions to correct contemporary ecological dilemmas. Ecocriticism provides renewed ways of clarifying the link between literary works and nature itself, hence the necessity for this study.
1.2 Statement of Problem
It is trite knowledge across the globe that Mother Nature is in a state of peril as a result of the negative impact of man’s exploratory activities on natural and unnatural resources. Therefore, an Eco critical analysis of the selected texts reveals that Nigeria is in dire straits as brought about by the tripartite conspiracy involving the government, multinational corporations and their cronies against the environment. An in-depth analysis of the selected texts also reveals a nexus between environmental travail and ethnic militia (Militancy) and general restiveness in the Niger Delta.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study were to;
Explore how the relationship between militancy and environmental travail is established in the selected African literary texts;
Investigate how militancy influences the environment and vice versa as presented in the selected novels and;
Explore how environmental issues as presented in the chosen literary texts helps focus the larger socio-political and cultural concerns of the specified milieu of their setting.
1.4 Significance of the Study
Since the theory of ecocriticism is still in its developing stages (Jimmy, 2015; Zapf, 2010), this study may add nuanced ideas to the growing body of existing literature on ecocriticism. This study may encourage readers and researchers to enable and view the chosen texts with a different perspective and comprehend the texts from a critical ecocritical lens which is different from the commonly used viewpoints. By applying ecocriticism and post-colonial theories, the study may inform other studies on the relationship that exists between militancy and environmental travail in literary works. This could bring a better comprehension of the complex interlinking of humans and their environment, and how this is finding expression through various grammars of articulation of which the literary one is one of them.
1.5 Limitations of the study
The study focused only on two novels, the analysis of the characters and their environment, interacting and influencing each other as presented in Tomorrow Died Yesterday by Chiemeka Garrick’sand in Spiked Beyond Spikes by Ekanpou Enewaridideke’s. Thus, the findings cannot be generalised to other novels and their characters which may be highlighting similar themes. Furthermore, the study was bound theoretically to ecocritical and environment theoretical lenses which informed this study. The research used materials that were only available and accessible to the researcher and that which was not accessible remained unconsidered.
1.6 Theoretical Framework
The theory underpinning this research is ecocriticism. The term as a broad domain and has been expressed through many literary genres. The fundamental stand of ecocriticism is that the ideas and structure of desire which govern the interactions between humans and their natural environment are important if we can get a handle on our ecological predicament. Invariably, over exploitation of natural resources and man’s disregard for lands and nature that sustains human life have given rise to the question of survival of both man and the environment that inhabit him. Ecocriticism is one of the ways in which humanity fight for this habitat. This is because there are rising frustration exacerbated by people’s inability to derive tangible benefits from the God given wealth.
Ecocriticism has been considered most appropriate for the purpose of this research. Ecocriticism has it origin in the environmental movement of the late 1960s and the 1970s and has been called different names, including ecopoetics, green culture studies, literary ecology, and environmental literary criticism among others. Williams Rueckert is known to be the first person to use the term ecocriticism in his 1978 essay entitled “Literature and ecology: An experiment in Ecocriticism” As a recent critical perspective to reading and studying literary works, ecocriticism according to Glotfelty, deals with ‘the study of the relationship between literature and the physical environment.’ (Johnson:7, Dobie: p238). In Johnson’s contribution, ‘Ecocriticism has emerged as a field of literary study that addresses how humans relate to non-human nature or the environment in literature.’(7)
Since the time of Ruectert’s 1978 essay, ecocriticism has gained recognition as one of the first ways of explaining nature and the functions of art. The need for the investigation of the relation between the natural world and humans in literature is thus, central to ecocriticism. The purpose is to raise the conscious level of people that man’s existence on earth is heavily dependent on the sustainability of the environment. In fact, Glotfelty has stated that “this consciousness raising is ecocriticism most important task” (Dobie, 2012).
Following the emergence and burgeoning of ecocriticism as a critical and theoretical discourse, ecocriticism has quite a number of followers including Cheryll Glotfelty, Grey Gerrard, Timothy Morton, Karla Aurbuster, Harold Fromm, Ursula Heise among others who have written/ edited volume of books on it.
Ecocriticism as a literary cum ecological concept is understood to have been fully developed into a literary theory by Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromn in The Ecocriticism: Landmark in Literary Ecology, which is co-edited by them and published in 1996. Prior to this period according to Glotfelty, underground work and experiments in this field have been ongoing, so that the collection consists of original works by literary scholars who have devoted themselves to the study of literature and the environment.
The term ecocriticism in the introduction to the Ecocriticism Reader, is identifies simply as ‘a study of the relationship between literature and the environment’ and seeks for example to answer such question as:
How is nature represented in the sonnet? What role does the physical setting plays in the plot of the novel? Are the values expressed in this play consistent with ecological wisdom? How do our Metaphors of the land influence the way we treat it? How can we characterize nature writing as a genre? In addition to race, class, and gender, should place become a new critical category? Does man write about nature differently than woman do? In what Ways has literacy itself affected humankind relationship to the natural world? How has the concept of wilderness changed over time? In what ways and to what effect is the environmental crisis seeping into contemporary literature and popular culture? …What bearing might the science of ecology have on literary analysis? What cross fertilization is possible between literary studies and environmental discourse in related disciplines such as history, philosophy, psychology, art history and ethics? (xix)
It is in line with these questions that the theoretical framework of this research proves its suitability by employing the tools of ecocriticism, ecopsychology and resistance. This way, the characters in the primary novels are shown as being responsible for their actions. They are revolutionaries who believed that their region is ripe for a revolution. They become activists and take up their stance against those that dare to stop them from regaining their freedom and obtaining justice. Ecocriticism strives to challenge the status quo, to change the injustice that is meted out on the environment by man. Thus ecocriticism is a revolution theory, a theory that tries to retrace man’s step and strives to stop him from destroying his environment.
Other researchers within the boundaries of the ecocritical theories includes Lawrence Buell, Simon Estok and host of other western literary critics, not unmindful of African ecocritical writers such as Williams Slay maker, Augustine Nchoujie, Uzoechi Nwagbara, Juliama Makechi and many others reveal a lot about people’s reaction to global and localized ecological degradation.
On the whole, the ecocritics are concerned with the natural environment in much deeper and more valuable ways than nature writers of the 18th century romantic ages are. As an interdisciplinary study of literature and ecology, it also accounts other field of study which is also considered by ecocriticism to be possible contributors to ecocriticism. As such views from various fields of study concerning the environment are welcome ways to understanding the study of ecocriticism. This research will therefore seek to interpret the selected novels within the basic ecocritical paradigm enunciated by the proponents of the theory.