The Freedman in Soyinka's "The Man Died"

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Nkiru Doris Onyemachi


The Nigerian Civil War fought from 1966 to 1970 has evoked emotions and enthroned writers that have either recaptured their experiences or told imaginative tales based on other’s experiences. But amidst the different structures, the horrific images captured in these works unify these texts as sharing a common interest and resonating a nation’s narrative. In The Man Died, Soyinka, while being held as a prisoner, revivifies his experiences of the war where the bestial acts meted out on man leave him in a silenced state that literally discerns the death of man. This causes the emergence of the freed man, the mind. The mind’s freedom to roam within time in a static body establishes the temporalities between the imprisoned and freed men. This paper adopts Currie’s perception of consciousness and Bhabha’s concept of nation’s narration to show how the mind discerns a chaotic nation, distinguishing the writer as an archival resource. It foregrounds the present as infiltrated with past events, thereby questioning its duration through a nation’s narration.


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Author Biography

Nkiru Doris Onyemachi, Edwin Clark University

Nkiru Doris Onyemachi is a lecturer and a researcher at Edwin Clark University, Kiagbodo, in Delta State, Nigeria. She obtained a bachelor of arts, master of arts, and doctor of philosophy degree in English Studies. Her research interests span narratology, gender studies, psychoanalysis, ecocriticism, and contemporary and interdisciplinary readings of African fiction. She has published articles in peer-reviewed journals, including “Navigating the Vision from Future to Present in Ngugi’s select Novel,”
“Weeping in the Face of Fortune: Eco-Alienation in the Niger-Delta Ecopoetics” (co-authored), “Silence, a Yell from Self towards Nothingness in Neshani Andreas’ The Purple Violet of Oshaantu’ and Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus,” and “Internal-Time Consciousness in Ngugi wa Thiong’O’s Novels,” among others. She has contributed chapters to books, including, “Unmasking the Undertone of Gender Inequality in Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah” and “The Double Story: Backward Time in Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease.” Her latest book chapter, titled “An Ecocritical Reading of Time in Africa in Achebe’s Arrow of God,” forms part of a book project to be published at Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Nkiru also edits books and articles for publication and public speeches.