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Intertextuality and West African Arabic Poetry: Reading Nigerian Arabic Poetry of the 19th and 20th Centuries

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Nigerian Arabic poetry of the 19th and 20th centuries deliberately intertexts with and alludes to classical Arabic poetry, the foundational texts of Islam, the religious poetry of the first century of Islam and with Arabian poetry in general. Arabic poets of West Africa sometimes use lines, ideas and themes that enlarge their poetry in order to bring into the consciousness of the reader/listener what he or she already knows or holds in high esteem religiously and artistically. West African Arabic poetry therefore apart from its literary aesthetics, establishes a sense of belonging to the Islamic Arabic global culture and identity, supporting the poet's ideas and convictions or mobilizing people for a social or political agenda.

This article endeavors to make an intertextual reading and analysis of some poems to demonstrate how intertextuality functions as a literary device in West African Arabic poetry. I will explore intertextual aspects through the analysis of the content, contexts, syntax and sounds of these poems. With this exploration, I hope to bring forth a rethinking of approaches to West African Arabic poetry that will emphasize and foster further the appreciation of Arabic poetry in researching West African Islamic culture and Arabic literary skills.

Affiliations: 1: College of Arabic Language and Literature, Department of Rhetoric and Criticism, Umm Al-Qura University


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