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Rhetoric and Rivalry

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Arrow of God and Present-Day Nigerian Politics

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Politics almost always entails opposition and rivalry as individuals and groups compete for power and influence. This essay juxtaposes the use of rhetoric among political rivals in Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God with the use of such language among present-day Nigerian politicians. Parallels are drawn between the utterances of such characters as Ezeulu, Nwaka, and Ezidemili in Arrow of God and those of Nigerian political personalities like Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan, Ibrahim Babangida, and Atiku Abubakar (the statements of the Nigerian politicians having been gathered from the mass media). Rhetorical strategies such as wit, repartee, innuendo, cynical/wry humour, and outright abuse/imprecations are identified as shared in the two worlds. It is argued that such language of rivalry is common in all political settings, ancient or modern. It is also suggested that literary works such as Arrow of God constitute a source of both political wit and wisdom for politicians to draw on.

Affiliations: 1: University of Benin


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