Heteronyms of hate: Name/naming as Fate in Sam Omatseye’s My Name is Okoro (2016)
The Nigeria-Biafra Civil War (1967–70), which took place decades ago, has continued to engage the creative afflatus of Nigerian writers, notably those from the Igbo ethnic group, the group of people who bore and continues to bear the brunt of the war. Part of the reason why the tragic events of the fratricidal war continue to exercise a strong influence on Nigerian authors is because the war, which constitutes the darkest chapter in the chequered history of the Nigerian post-colony, has remained the central issue in the country’s geopolitical calculus. Given, thus, the preponderance of pro-Igbo narratives on the war, Sam Omatseye, an ethnic minority from Urhobo-Itsekiri, in his novel entitled My Name is Okoro, provides an important counter-narrative on the war, furnishing what might be termed “a minority report” that fills in the textual silences and lacunae in the Igbo monologic narrative. This paper, therefore, closely and carefully examines, assesses and evaluates Omatseye’s dialogic and counter-canonical riposte and concludes that his novel helps furnish a full-orbed portrait of the war. Consequently, this paper investigates the trauma and the continuing tragedy of the war and proffers credible solutions to Nigeria’s hydra-headed problems.
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