THE FEELINGS OF THE POETS IN RELATION TO THE BASTARDIZED ENVIRONMENT

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THE FEELINGS OF THE POETS IN RELATION TO THE BASTARDIZED ENVIRONMENT

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the Study

The Niger Delta of Nigeria covers twenty thousand square kilometres comprised mainly of rain forests and wetlands of thousands of kilometres square formed primarily by sediment deposition. It provides home to twenty million people of forty ethnic groups. This floodplain makes up 7.5% of Nigeria’s total land mass. It is the largest drainage basin in Africa. The Delta’s environment can be broken into four ecological zones of coastal barrier islands, mangrove swamp forest, fresh water swamps and lowland rain forest. This incredible well-endowed ecosystem contains one of the highest concentrations of bio-diversity on the planet. In addition it supports abundant flora and fauna; its arable terrain sustains a wide variety of crops, lumber or agricultural trees and many more species of fresh water fish than any ecosystem in West Africa (Isaac Okonta and Oronto Douglas 2003, p. 60-61). According to Enoch Okpara (2004: p.1), the Delta region of Nigeria is “a fan shaped alluvial area, which in other words, is a seaward extension of the flood plain of the River Niger”.

This region has therefore become a centre of focus for the Nigerian government and companies because of its mineral deposits. Nigeria generates billions of naira from oil extraction from the area. 

Though the country depends greatly on the proceeds from oil extraction, little or no compensation is given to the land owners. The people wallow in abject poverty. Life becomes difficult for the inhabitants while the exploiters live in affluence. In the words of Jasper Onuekwusi in “Tears and Agony of a Waterside Poet”, “life in the Delta region of Nigeria constitutes an interesting irony”.  Health hazards from environmental degradation become the order of the day. Water is poisoned in the process of oil extraction endangering the life of aquatic organisms.

The Niger Delta environment, therefore, is unsafe, which means it must be protected to avoid its being destroyed because of the role it plays in human and non-human lives within it. Both human and non-human organisms are also inter-related. Barry Commoner says “the first law of Ecology is that everything is connected to everything else” (qtd in Rueckett, 1978p.108). Accordingly, human beings for instance depend on biotic and abiotic components of the ecosystem for survival. Similarly, plants and some bacteria depend on the energy from the physical environment for their well-being. This reveals the inter-relatedness and inter-dependence of living organisms in the environment in which land is very essential.

1.1.1    Land as a Component of the Environment

Of all the components of the environment which comprises land, air and water, land plays a very important role in supporting human beings and other creatures. According to Kumar Anil De and Kumar Arnab De (2004:62) “land is one of the most important components of life support system…”. Land is known worldwide as Mother Earth which should not be trampled upon. 

Land serves a lot of functions that include agriculture, forestry, vegetation, human settlement, road construction, industries, mining etc. Ngugi Wa Thiong’O (1981) posits that “the basis of human communities ‘is the soil, land’. Without the soil, without land, without nature there is no human community”(7). Emphasizing the importance of land, Kumah Garg and Ranjini Garg (2008) say:

THE FEELINGS OF THE POETS IN RELATION TO THE BASTARDIZED ENVIRONMENT

THE FEELINGS OF THE POETS IN RELATION TO THE BASTARDIZED ENVIRONMENT