European Journal of English Language and Literature Studies (EJELLS)

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Contemporary Northern Nigerian Literature and the Poverty Discourse: A Critique of Aliyu Kamal’s Hausa Boy


Literature plays numerous roles in the society: the cultural, the political, the religious, the economical, the social and the scientific (therapeutic). From the classical epochs to 21st century, writers have written and have been writing plays, poetry, novels, as well as short stories to educate, enlighten, persuade, warn and entertain their community, and sometimes the world at large. However, owing to the incessant changes in times, writers have to explore emerging themes such as migration, regional disputes, Aids, tribalism, terrorism, ethnic and religious violence, gender politics, institutionalized corruption and poverty for example. The aim of this paper is to explore the theme of poverty, as one of the contemporary thematic preoccupations in African literature in the 2I century, as portrayed in one of Aliyu Kamal‘s latest novellas, Hausa Boy. Set in the Northern part of Nigeria, Kamal ‘s prime concern is to demonstrate how some families in the country feel the deep and painful bite of abject poverty, which not only forces them to live from hand to mouth, but also makes it thorny for them to send their children to school. The end result is the children; particularly the young girls become street hawkers, a trade which endangers their life in the long run. The paper also wants to unveil that of the handful of the under-privileged children that have been to school, a significant number of them shamelessly drop out, owing to their parents’ inability to pay for their school fees. This further leads to the rising wave of the unemployment rate in the country. The paper reveals how poverty profoundly affects young men-women courtship, as it deters the former from fulfilling their cultural obligation of giving out some money token to their girl-friends and fiancées in each visit they pay to them as a sign of love. Yet, it is also a cultural practice, which causes the young men to suffer in Northern Nigeria’s contemporary reality.

Keywords: Discourse, Literature, Northern Nigeria, Poverty

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