Inter-textuality in Selected Novels of Chinua Achebe and George Orwell

Ndubuisi H. Onyemelukwe and Moses A. Alo

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This study makes a critical intertextual analysis of Achebe’s novels and Orwell’s fictions with reference to the former’s Things Fall Apart (TFA) and Anthills of the savannah (Anthills) as well as the latter’s 1984 and Animal farm (Anifam) for the purpose of highlighting the implications of their mutual socio-political ideas for nation-building in Nigeria and other third-world countries by extension. Improved (effective) nation-building in Nigeria and other third-world countries is pragmatically objectified in the study as a critical reaction to political leadership failure which is seriously threatening the nation as for other developing countries. The analysis is based on the notion of intertextuality as conceptualized in Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), a theoretical framework of the study which anchors the identification of the underlying socio-political ideologies common to Achebe and Orwell in relation to the reference texts. The theoretical framework further connects M.A.K. Halliday’s notion of textuality as a linguistic function. The findings show that both Achebe and Orwell have zero tolerance for totalitarianism and consider unbridled democracy to be the only acceptable political leadership ideology. They have zero tolerance for totalitarianism, because it stifles individualism and fatally threatens friendship and love just as it hinders effective governance, especially as political leaders in Nigeria and allied developing nations appear not to be learning from History. On the other hand, they endorse unbridled democracy, because it goes hand in glove with individualism and guarantees effective governance. Hence, the paper calls on Nigerian government and the governments of other third-world countries, by extension, to immediately put measures in place to remodel the current democratic dispensation in the polity after one of the advanced democracies across the globe, that of England, preferably. To fast-track the remodeling, the paper strongly exhorts political leaders in these countries to, henceforth, learn from History, read political novels and embrace the highly informed propositions in them for effective governance advanced by their literary artists, because no society can do without artists who constitute the conscience of the nation.

Key words: Intertextuality, Totalitarianism, Despotism, Critical Discourse Analysis, Discourse Field.           

1.0 Introduction

Achebe and Orwell in the context of this paper refer to Chinua Achebe and George Orwell. Both of them are novelists and critical essayists of international repute. Achebe is of African (Nigerian) background, while Orwell is of European (English) background. Again, while the former is an archetypal African novelist, the latter is a leading figure in English (prose) Literature. See Onyemelukwe (2014&2010) as well as Larson (1978:27-28) and Africa Source (2007:8). Achebe’s literary prominence is substantially tied to his African classic, Things Fall Apart (TFA) (1958) and his other major novels, especially Anthills of the Savannah (Anthills) (1987).

Orwell’s own reputation in the English literary world is due to his two most powerful and popular novels titled, Animal Farm (Anifam)(1944) and Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) (1949).

Chinua Achebe’s political philosophy is anchored on participatory democracy.  The philosophy of participatory democracy is strictly people-oriented.  In other words, it is not leader-oriented, even though it does not in any way seek to marginalize the leader. That is, it is so articulated that the welfare of the people, or the common good, reigns supreme in the mind of the leader as he initiates, ratifies and /or implements government policies, schemes and programmes. Hence, as Tsaaior (2008:15) rightly puts it, the ideals of participatory democracy are those by which: “the leaders of the people hold power only in trust and at the pleasure of their constituents who are the real custodians of the power machinery or apparatus”.

It is not surprising that Achebe’s political philosophy is anchored as explained above given his African (Igbo) background. Indeed, his is a background whose political institutional structures foster communal parliamentary democracy. It is also a background which thrives on republican ethics that encourage checks and balances for the health and sustenance of the society at large.

Orwell, by virtue of his own political philosophy, is a democratic socialist. Hence, he is strongly opposed to totalitarianism. Orwell’s resentment for totalitarianism is so deep that it forms the focal point of his novels. Being a democratic socialist, he endorses the socialist system of government for being completely and totally devoid of dictatorial tendencies. By his life history, generally, as has scholarly been established, he is opposed to imperialism, fascism, nazism, stalinism and every other right-wing political leadership ideology. Hence, Onyemelukwe (2006), concurring with Hitchens (2002:3-15) concludes that Orwell is a left-winger, and therefore, a pacifist in the parlance of left-wing politicians.

The foregoing position on Orwell’s ideological stance evinces that both Achebe and Orwell are democrats. In other words, both of them basically have the same political philosophy—a philosophy that is absolutely at variance with totalitarianism or despotism. On account of their mutual vehement opposition to despotism, their novels are considered to have a common take on dictatorship as a literary subject matter. This consideration is valid given the consensus scholarly postulation that texts have no inherent meanings of their own. Their meanings are often connected to the larger socio-cultural, political and other contexts within which some of them are interlinked with one another, especially in terms of the political ideas that they express.

 Therefore, the objectives of this paper are to unfold Achebe and Orwell’s mutual major socio-political ideas, explicate their theoretical basis and highlight their implications for nation building in Nigeria and other third-world countries by extension. Improving nation-building in these countries is the ultimate goal of the study, because behind every failed nation is gross political leadership failure which urgently needs to be reversed. Realizing these objectives will prove that none of Achebe and Orwell is alone, pointless and unfocused regarding socio-political preoccupations in his novels. The foregoing specific and broad objectives of the study are realized in this intertexual analysis with reference to Achebe’s Anthills and TFA in juxtaposition with Orwell’s 1984 and Anifam, while the analysis serves to strictly highlight their mutual socio-political ideologies. These novels are purposively selected for the analysis, because they all dwell on the subject-matter of politics, subtly or apparently. Again, they reflect to the highest degree, in relation to socio-political ideologies, Achebe and Orwell’s literary intertextuality which is the focus of this paper. For ease of reference, whenever necessary, TFA and Anthills, are collectively, in this study, called Achebe’s novels just as 1984 and Anifam are referred to as Orwell’s fictions.

1.1 Definition of a Key Term: Totalitarianism

Totalitarianism or despotism is a right-wing socio-political leadership ideology. As literarily expounded in Achebe’s novels and Orwell’s fictions referenced in this paper, it is synonymous with autocracy, dictatorship, authoritarianism and absolutism. Outside the novels, it has the same meaning expressed in the above synonyms. Hence, in modern political perspective, it is reflective of what obtains in a one-party state. In such a state, the only ruling party is completely and totally in charge of both government and governance. In other words, the party leadership is supreme and is usually personified in the chairman of the party. The party chairman, therefore, operates as an absolute monarch. An absolute monarch tolerates no opposition, and so, has no opposition, whatsoever. This being the case, the party chairman in practice heads both the party and the government, though in principle he controls party affairs only. In other words, he heads the party directly, but controls the government indirectly. This means that the physical head of the government is his puppet. This situation is mirrored in Anthills which projects His Excellency (HE), Sam, as the absolute military head of state, and as such, the supreme leader of both the legislative and executive arms of Kangan government, and by extension, the judiciary.

Nevertheless, in 1984 the office of the head of government and that of the party leader (chairman) are in the hand of one man: Big Brother. This makes the government of Oceania a raw totalitarian one just as it makes Big Brother an absolute monarch, and as such, the head of state both ‘in name and in fact.’ (Appadorai, 1975:131)

Despotism as a socio-political leadership ideology is, therefore, monarchical in nature and it does not matter whether or not the government of the state in question and the leadership of the ruling party or of the various arms of government are in the hand of one man. Consequently, the sole object of a despotic or totalitarian government is absolute control just as largely obtains in a fascist state—the absolute control of whoever, whenever, wherever and however. In other words, a despotic government aims at a complete emasculation of individualism. Hence, in Mussolini’s expressive phrase, the concept of a totalitarian state echoes ‘all within the state, none outside the state and none against the state.’ (ibid: 463) This system of government contrasts sharply with democracy and constitutional monarchy. In both, the substance of power is with the people (ibid: 131-132). The foregoing explication is basically mirrored in Ogunna et al’s (1988:88) assertion that:

               Totalitarianism is applied to political systems characterized     by absolute and total control of government and society    through the application of instruments of moderntechnology       and mass communication for the purpose of realizing a single          positively formulated goal of the state as identified by the             leaders.

Fascist Italy under Mussoloni and Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler as well as the Soviet Union under Stalin are examples of totalitarian states. Hence, Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism and imperialism as explicated in Hitchens (ibid) are all different faces of despotism. All of these socio-political ideologies have one common denominator: authoritarianism. In each of them, authority is exercised for the sake of the polity but does not originate from it. They all favour and adopt one-party system of government under a civilian dispensation, and to fortify the party’s hold on power, there is in each a combination in one person of the head of the party and the head of government. See Appadorai (ibid: 476-477). In its raw form, totalitarianism as evident in Nazi Germany under Hitler accords no fundamental rights to the individual. The individual merely has fundamental duties. Consequently, in the words of Dr. Goebbels, its elaborate organization essentially targets the uniform moulding of the will in the direction of national socialism to put down all independent rights, criticism and opposition (ibid: 470).

2.0 Theoretical Frameworks:  CDA Notion of Intertextuality and M.A.K. Halliday’s    

                               Notion of Textuality (as a Linguistic Function)

The focus of this paper on Achebe and Orwell’s literary mutual political ideologies anchors on CDA notion of intertextuality and also on M.A.K. Halliday’s notion of textuality as a linguistic function. CDA notion of intertextuality cannot be effectively explicated without providing concise insight into M.A.K. Halliday’s notion of textuality, its allied concept. Textuality refers to everything that relates to the text: its construction (composition), production (publication) and consumption (reading). The foremost of these three aspects of textuality brings a text into existence, while the second circulates it and the last interprets it by means of the receptive language skill of reading. Observe from the foregoing that textuality is a function of language, since no aspect of it can be realized without the use of language. See Halliday (1973).

What is a text? In the context of this study, a text is a writerly intellectual construction. As a writerly intellectual construction, a text is pregnant with meanings, and therefore, susceptible to various interpretations which may be in convergence or at variance with the author’s intended meaning. Our definition of text identifies texts as being distinctly unfixed in semantic terms. This explains why Fish (1980) postulates that the text can be far more unstable than we assume. According to him:

                 It is not so much a case of indeterminacy or undecidability,         but of a determinace and decidability that do not always               have the same shape and that can, and in this, do change.

If text consumption yields a high profile convergence of meaning derivation in connection with two or more texts, intertextuality is automatically established between the texts in focus. Intertextuality is, therefore, a function of text consumption. It signifies contextual and ideational similitude between texts, emanating from textual comparison. The foregoing evinces, indisputably, that intertextual analysis is a critical enterprise. Consequently, it is better conceptualized within the theoretical purview of CDA.

CDA refers to Critical Discourse Analysis, which is anchored on Haberman’s (1973) Critical Theory (CT) just like Critical Linguistic Analysis (CLA). The CT upon which it is anchored advocates a social constructionist’s view of language. Hence, being a criticalized Discourse Analysis (DA), it follows the criticalist tradition. In other words, a CDA is a DA integrated with radical social and cultural theories. It is, therefore, an aspect of instrumental Linguistics. Viewed as such, it is a revolutionized method of textual analysis that generally unearths underlying ideologies as well as the power relations, societal interests and the various oppressive attitudes of the powerful that are unavoidably reflected in every text. As has been explicated by several scholars such as Dellinger (1995), Kaplan (1990), Kress (1990), Threadgold (2000) as well as Wodak and Meyer (2001), CDA objectifies intertextuality for the purpose of a validated analysis. Specifically, Onyemelukwe (2014:27) asserts that in every CDA the intertextual and subjective features of a text are among what the analyst should look out for in the course of analyzing the text.

Basically, in the light of CDA theoretical construct, intertextuality refers to the ideational connection between a text and several others. Concurring with Threadgold (1997:15), it refers to a new interest in understanding not just the working of individual texts, but also the ways in which they are traversed by traces of and enter into networks of other texts … to form part of the hegemonic discursive structures which form social realities, subjectivities (author’s personal sentiments) and bodies. Simply put, intertextuality is a crucial way of linking texts and contexts. It identifies mutual textual features. Hence, it is an analytical non-contrastive approach to a comparative study of selected texts. Consequently, Foucault (1976) as cited in Olorunyomi (2006: 141) submits that the frontiers of a book (text) are never clear-cut, because it is caught up in a system of references to other books, other texts… and is a node within a network… a network of references. Invariably, Fairclough (2003:39) submits that intertextuality is the presence in a text of some actual elements of other texts. According to him there is generally a distinction between external and internal relations of texts. The former links a given text to others and its larger social context. The latter, on the other hand, depicts the subsisting intra-textual relationship between the numerous expressive components of the text and could be semantic, grammatical, lexical or phonological relations. The external variant of intertextuality, emanating from Fairclough’s distinction applies, strictly, to this study. In other words, intertextuality in this study is all about external textual relations such as identified to exist among the reference literary texts for this study.

Context, in the perspective of these frameworks, refers to the events, circumstances or incidents that imminently and continually occur in the larger society together with the materials and subjects that constitute the society all of which underpin the construction and deconstruction of any given text. It could, therefore, be physical, political, social, cultural or psychological. Whichever it is, it impacts fundamentally on textual meaning, especially if it is implicit. Hence, it is imperative to interpret every bit of discourse in relation to its context. When this bit of discourse is equivalent to a stretch of utterance in a conversation, or a sentence in a novel, whose cultural setting is alien to the analyst, its interpretation should be pragmatically (creatively) realized in line with Alo’s (2005: 119-120 & 2006:19-26) postulations on ESL, discourse and translation (interpretation) strategies. This prescription is indisputable, because every pragmatic interpretation is contextually derived, and so, unarguably appropriate. ESL refers to English as a Second Language.

The foregoing recommendation indicates that the objectives of this study are realizable only by means of an intertextual analysis of Achebe and Orwell’s novels named above. Every comprehensive intertextual analysis covers the discourse fields (themes), mode and tenor of the reference novels, going by scholarly CDA postulations. Howbeit, the intertextual analysis of the reference novels for this study is strictly limited to their discourse fields and tenor by virtue of which the study unfolds their mutual topical socio-political ideological expositions as well as their discourse purposes. Moreover, the expositions will highlight the major mutual socio-political ideologies reflected in the novels in accordance with the already advanced CDA intertexual principles which anchor the theoretical premise for the study. This compliance is necessary, if the analytical target of the study must be realized as already stated. Again, the situating of this study within the theoretical paradigms of textuality and intertextuality, as already expounded, presupposes that the novels in focus establish a largely socio-political epistemological interactional platform between their authors and their reading audience. In this interaction, the authors are obviously the resource persons or the lecturers, while their readers are the receptors, beneficiaries or students. Hence, the study, standing in for the audience, undertakes the duty of pragmatically (contextually) decoding the various textual messages originating from the resource persons with focus on the underlying socio-political ideological contents of the reference texts.

3.0 Analytical Discussion: The Intertexual Features of the Reference Novels

Before deliberating on the topical literary themes mutually developed by Achebe and Orwell in the reference texts, it is necessary to briefly conceptualize the literary terms of subject matter and themes as well as discourse field and tenor. Discourse field refers to the subject matter of any literary works such as all the novels in focus here. Note that the subject matter of the novels is synonymous with each of their numerous topics of discussion. These topics of discussion are closely connected with their various themes. The connection is such that the themes derive from the subject matter. Hence, each subject matter identified in this section is followed by a terse discussion of the themes derived from it. A theme is the author’s take on a particular subject matter. In this paper, themes are intricately tied to Achebe and Orwell’s mutual socio-political ideologies as reflected in the reference texts. Examples of discourse field include love, hatred, politics, colonization, slavery, despotism, totalitarianism and freedom struggle. The tenor of discourse conceptualizes discourse purpose, i.e., envisaged discourse effects, which are collectively equivalent to locutionary and illocutionary (speech) effects as expounded in J.L. Austin’s  (1962) Speech Act Theory and may correspond with the perlocutionary effects as captured in the theory. Hence, the following are possible discourse tenor: satirizing, lampooning, criticizing, clarifying, commending and recommending; proposing, promising, asserting, condemning and exonerating.

Broadly speaking, the discourse field of Achebe’s novels as in Orwell’s fictions is politics. This subject matter is most elaborately and critically explored in all of them. Consequently, they are all classified as political novels. Arising from the subject matter of politics are such leadership ideologies as despotism, totalitarianism as well as divide- and- rule system. Despotism and totalitarianism are synonymous with dictatorial political leadership ideologies. The former is the focus of Achebe’s novels in the context of a unitary government headed by a dastard soldier whose cabinet members are all civilians as unfolded in Anthills. The focus on despotism is an obsession for Achebe, such that it is paralleled in AMOP in the context of a quasi multi-party parliamentarian political system, headed by a core despotic prime minister. Divide-and-rule system takes the form of a unilaterally-headed colonial administration in TFA. The administration subtly imposes itself on the host community by dividing the people to rule them by means of a coercive judiciary and consequently things soon begin to fall apart in the community in every sphere of life, especially in relation to its united fighting spirit. In other words, TFA projects divide-and-rule system as despotism in disguise.  On the other hand, in Orwell’s fictions, the latter is x-rayed within the purview of a parliamentarian one-party system of government as reflected in 1984 and as an allegorical portrayal of mutiny against a one-man dictatorship replaced subsequently by a much more brutal one as illustrated in Anifam. In none of the above situations is an effective governance incorporated, because in all of them there is outright annihilation of opposition and triumph of oppression by means of propaganda, torture, secret policing, judicial coercion, unlawful detention, extradition and assassination.

Indisputably, the foregoing explication depicts Achebe and Orwell’s conviction that dictatorship in whatever guise is an absolutely unacceptable political leadership ideology, since there is nothing good about it. Nothing is good about dictatorship, because as evident in such characters as Okonkwo, Ikem, Chris, Odili and Wiston as well as Julia, it emasculates individualism. Both authors also jointly condemn the parliamentarian system of government, because it is synonymous with despotism. Again, going by the final end of their narratives, they see no political solution in a one-, two- or even multi-party system. In other words, to them, effective people-friendly governance is not a function of party arrangement, but that of political attitudes. By implication, therefore, they both consider democracy to be an alternative political ideology, being democrats by virtue of their individual political ideologies. However, the temporal setting of Orwell’s fictions (1944 and 1948) which is much earlier than that of Achebe’s novels suggests that despotism is a necessary political stepping stone, ie, it forms part of the learning process generally undertaken by politicians in their march towards nation-building. The veracity of this inference is underpinned by the intercontinental political master-servant relationship between the respective extra-textual geographical settings of Orwell’s fictions and Achebe’s novels: Europe and Africa, respectively.

That history is indispensable, especially in connection with nation-building, is another topical theme mutual to Achebe’s novels and Orwell’s fictions. Specifically, this theme is prominently underlined in Achebe’s Anthills through the wise old man, the leader of Abazon delegates. In a very long speech given by the man at Harmoney Hotel in honour of Ikem who joins them for solidarity felicitation, he asserts that History and Historians are much more important than kings and kingmakers. The former are more important than the latter, because according to him, the citizenry benefits eternally from the continual lessons they pass on to every generation quite unlike the latter whose actions or inactions may constitute societal nuisance. Orwell’s 1984, invariably, underscores the indispensability of History and historians by severely satirizing Big Brother regime for its ‘recophobia’—a pathological fear of documentation or record keeping. In the Oceanian world of 1984, most of the political ineptitude of the regime is traceable to this pathological fear. For instance, the government keeps contradicting itself on the statistics relating to the importation and supply of essential commodities such as sugar, coffee and milk to the citizenry within a two-week period or less, because there is no record of earlier claims.

The above theme which highlights the essence of history, the role of historians as well as the absurdity of neglecting History and historians largely accounts for the unpalatable political condition of Nigeria that currently incubates quasi-democracy. It also largely explains the policy inconsistence that accounts for infrastructural decay and the endemic corruption that now characterize political leadership in the country just as it explains overall national backwardness on general developmental indices and international tournaments. In other words, Achebe and Orwell strongly hold that Nigerian political leaders must learn from History, if they will ever take Nigerians to their promised land.

Friendship and love is another discourse field common to Achebe’s novels and Orwell’s fictions. Specifically, in Anthills, Achebe created an unbreakable friendship bond in the trio of Ikem, Chris and Beatrice (BB) whose mutual love proves incorruptible, even as the threat of death looms and comes to pass, but whose companionship ceases to be secure on account of the political turbulence entrenched by the military dictatorship in charge of affairs in their country, Kangan. This indissoluble friendship bond is mirrored in TFA between Okonwo and Obierika. Between the two of them, however, tragedy struck in form of the former’s politically induced  suicide to severe the bond, albeit, physically. In 1984, on the other hand, Orwell created a dual friendship and amourous love bond between Winston Smith and Julia, which initially proves indissoluble as it aims to culminate in marriage, but eventually frizzles out as they individually denies each other under life-threatening tortures, being unable, under trial for thought crime as directed by O’Brien, to absorb the shock of the Big Brother regime. O’Brien is the visible head of government as well as the leader of the only party in power in Oceania. He, therefore, heads a civilian dictatorship and his despotism subtly but very sordidly dwarfs that of HE in Anthills. It then follows that both Achebe and Orwell agree that friendship and love suffers severe threat, which could be fatal in any totalitarian polity.

Directly emanating from their common take on love and friendship is that, as already asserted, there is absolutely no room for individualism in any dictatorial regime whether the regime is military or civilian; colonial or non-colonial. Individualism is the socio-political ideology that grants freedom of thought, expression and action to every individual in any polity. In other words, individualism does not permit authoritarian control of the citizenry by the state. Hence, despotism and individualism are direct ideological opposites. It, therefore, follows that Achebe’s novels and Orwellian fictions rightly condemn the former along with the obnoxious concepts and principles on which it thrives: spying, secret policing, tele-guiding, intrigues, propaganda, ceaseless (phony) war and/or conflicts, torture, unlawful arrest, detention and prosecution as well as ritual and political killing. All of the above life wires of despotism are glaringly manifest in all the novels focused on in this section, especially Anthills and 1984 as evident in the unsavory relationships between the duo of Wiston Smith and Julia with the Big Brother regime as well as those of the trio of Ikem, Chris and BB with HE in Kangan politics. Again, Achebe and Orwell are right in mutually advocating democratic political ideology, since it is the only leadership style that permits individualism to guarantee effective governance.

In connection with the tenor of discourse Achebe’s novels and Orwellian fictions serve the purpose of satirizing. Hence, technically in Literature, their novels are satirical in nature. They are satirical, because they employ satire as a literary device. As a literary device, satire involves criticizing and lampooning. The latter serves to intensify the former largely by means of paradox, hyperbole, allegory and humour. As evident in the foregoing analysis, Achebe’s satire thrives more on humour and paradox than on the two other devices, while Orwell anchors his own satire more on hyperbole, allegory and humour.  Humour is therefore a common denominator to both authors. It is also imperative to state that while Achebe is strictly a horatian satirist, Orwell is both a horatian and juvenile one. In other words, Achebe’s satire is entirely biting or severe, whereas Orwell’s is both severe and mild.

Consequently, Achebe’s novels severely satirize patriarchy, chauvinism, racism, despotism and other right-wing socio-political ideologies like maxism. They also satirize general negative attitude to life which is most evident in TFA with reference to Okonkwo as well as impetuous resistance struggles and the philosophies of life that lack wisdom. All the ideologies, especially despotism, are satirized for their multiple demerits such as imposition, intolerance, subjugation and bullying. Again, the novels satirize parliamentarian system of government as well as two-party political system. All of the above are severely satirized in the sense that their weaknesses are revealed with no apology to whosever ox is gored. In relation to J.L. Austin’s (ibid.) speech act theory, Achebe’s satire constitutes the locutionary effect (immediate impact) of the narratives unfolded in his novels, while their implicit exclusive ratification of participatory democracy makes up their illocutionary effect (extended impact) just as positive radical socio-political transformation in Africa and beyond is the perlocutionary effect (ultimate impact) of the narratives. Participatory democracy is exclusively advocated, because it is people-friendly and promotes general positive attitude to life. Apparently, the immediate and extended impacts of the narratives have automatically been achieved by Achebe’s very act of conceiving and unfolding their various plots. Nevertheless, the ultimate impact of the narratives remains virtually evasive, because most countries in Africa and beyond within the third world, including Nigeria, lack the political will to effect the anticipated transformation. Moreover, literacy level in each of them is just about average, while reading culture is next to zero.

As already stated, Orwell’s satire is both horatian and juvenile. It is horatian in 1984, but juvenile in Anifam. It is horatian in 1984, because in unison with Achebe he satirizes totalitarianism (despotism), most vehemently with zero sympathy for his target victims: Soviet Union, Spanish and other totalitarian European and non-European governments of his time and beyond. Hence, his fictions have specifically satirized these various sheds of totalitarianism: stalinism or bolshevism (communism), Spanish nationalism, nazism, British imperialism and socialism, all of which are extreme right-wing dictatorships with the first as his main focus. Orwell’s satiric beam light also focuses on one-party system of government which he rightly considers to be synonymous with dictatorship. In Anifam, on the other hand, his satire is juvenile, because most amusingly he allegorically exposes and mocks the shortcomings of totalitarianism in juxtaposition with political revolution. For the same reasons that inform Achebe’s satire, he mocks these shortcomings with few human but numerous animal characters as he queries revolutions, generally. He generally queries revolutions, because each of them enthrones a government extensively worse in ideology, comportment and performance than its immediate predecessor. That is, like Achebe in Anthills via Ikem as a mouthpiece he asserts that revolution is no solution to any country’s political quagmire. By implication, he also concurs with Achebe that radical psychic transformation and ideological re-engineering are the only effective political solutions available to any country on the verge of leadership failure. Again, both of them agree that democracy is the only acceptable platform for effecting and sustaining the solution. Nevertheless, while Orwell favours socialist democracy as evident in his biography, Achebe appears to opt for the capitalist democratic platform as suggested by the share-cropping testament between Okonkwo and Nwakibie in his TFA by which the former became a diji (a big time yam farmer) after tirelessly working to further enrich the latter for providing the initial eight hundred seedlings under the arrangement.

Invariably, in terms of speech (discourse) act theory analysis, the immediate goal of Orwell’s fictions is satire, while their additional goal is the implicit advancement of democratic political ideology coupled with the prescription of the panacea for political disquiet and their ultimate goal remains positive radical socio-political transformation. All of these goals have apparently been achieved. The first two is achieved by virtue of Orwell conceiving and unfolding the story lines of his fictions. The last, which is not creditable to Achebe’s narratives, are achieved because a great majority of European polities, if not all of them have long been democratized, their leaders having the political will to appropriate Orwell’s criticisms with their citizens being highly literate quite unlike those of Africa and other third world continents. The democratization of European polities is not in doubt. It is rather a contemporary historical reality that their governments together with that of the United States of America (USA) constitute what is currently known as western democracy, which is now a political ideological model for Africa and the entire third world.

4.0 Implications of the Study for Nation-Building in Nigeria

This study has critical implications for nation-building in Nigeria. The fundamental implication is that Nigerian intellectual leaders in the literary world such as Professors Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Chukwuemeka Ike and several others should and must not be neglected, specifically in connection with their continual thought-provoking panacea for the hydra-headed political quagmire that bedevils the country now as in both near and distant past. Taking them serious today and always is imperative, because past-time negligence of their pragmatic socio-political counsel has cost the nation its proper place in the international community. For instance, a great majority of the social critics in the country currently consider it a failed nation. The die-hard optimistic ones among them adjudge the nation to be on the verge of leadership failure. Within the nation’s leadership circle, the socially sensitive incumbents adduce the escapist notion that the nation has virtually failed both in terms of leadership and followership. Whichever is the valid assessment of the current political situation in Nigeria, one apparent common denominator in all the assessments is that the advanced middle-age polity is critically ill on account of gross pervasive leadership failure.

Another reason why attention must be paid to Nigerian literary artists is the discovery in this study that they are not alone regarding the ideational solutions they propose for Nigeria’s seemingly intractable socio-political bottlenecks. The radical ideas they keep turning out are replicated in the works of other creative writers across the globe just as Orwell’s fictions reflect Achebe’s mind in relation to the proper socio-political ideology that should direct governance in a modern polity as well as the right kind of attitude expected of both the leaders and the led. If intellectuals across the globe produce similar or same ideas for resolving issues relating to governance without having a common forum, it naturally follows that the ideas are impeccable, and so, must not be neglected. The exhortation to pay attention to Nigerian literary artists is a clarion call and is in tandem with Balogun’s (2002: 504) assertion reproduced hereunder:

                       No society can survive without art. The artist is the conscience of the society.

                       He ensures the transmission of socio-cultural values and ascertains that the

                       society does not degenerate or disintegrate.

How can attention be paid to Nigerian creative writers whose works objectify the broad subject- matter of politics? Attention can be paid to them by incorporating their overall notions of political reformation targeted at nipping political conflict in the bud. These notions stem from the writers’ passionate search for national political solutions. For Achebe as for Orwell, the political crisis in Nigeria and other polities is fundamentally not amenable to political revolutions, but to radical psychic reformation and ideological re-engineering. The reformation and re-engineering, if well managed, are expected to enhance general positive attitudes and an unbridled democratic platform quite unlike the quasi-democracy that presently obtains in the country (cf. Adeniji & Oshun, 2010). An unbridled democratic platform is devoid of every trace of dictatorship, political intrigues and maneuvers. Such a platform has zero tolerance for god-fatherism, election rigging, political thuggery, nepotism, embezzlement and other unwholesome practices like marginalization and glorification of mediocrity for the sake of lubricating political affliation. Achebe’s zero tolerance for despotism and negative political behaviour can not influence politics in Nigeria except if our political leaders imbibe and effect it, but they can not do so without rubbing minds with Achebe by reading his works, especially his novels and essays such as Anthills of the Savannah, A man of the People, The writer as a Teacher and The Trouble with Nigeria.

The last paragraph before this throws up the next implication of this study and that is in connection with reading culture and literacy level as tools for academic excellence. Generally in Nigeria today, literacy level is less than 50%, going by recent indices emanating from the press. Literacy level is poor in the country now, because the reading culture of Nigerians at present is at the lowest ebb as strongly suggested by the overall deplorable academic attitude of Nigerian students at both secondary and tertiary levels. Nigerian students’ academic attitude is now so poor that less than 2% of NECO candidates obtained five credits including English and Mathematics in 2009 May/June SSCE according to the then summary of the examination results officially released by the council in both print and electronic media. With reference to WAEC’s 2017 and 2016 summary of results as published in on-line Vanguard Newspaper, Nigerian students’ O’ level results have highly improved with 59.22% and 52.97% of candidates obtaining five credit passes inclusive of English and Mathematics in both years, respectively. Nevertheless, their performance in qualifying examinations at the tertiary level leaves much to be desired such that the authenticity of the results is seriously subject to interrogation. For instance, a male student recently presented an all-A statement of results for admission purposes at an interactive session in a polytechnic in Western Nigeria but could not expand WAEC as an acronym when asked to. Rather than the right answer, which is West African Examination Council, he said in panic that WAEC is behind Yabatec.

Among our political leaders, the story is the same if not worse. How many political office holders in Nigeria read newspaper and magazine articles?  How many of them know about political novels such as Achebe’s Anthills, talk less of reading them? These questions seriously beg for answers – answers which would come only if and when our ministries of education and other relevant executive government bodies put critical measures in place to drastically step up reading culture across board in the country, especially among the leaders. Once this is done, literacy level will naturally rise in the country and the nation can then look forward to having leaders who are conversant with both literary and professional political theories and who can apply these theories to step up effective governance that will guarantee the common good, shunning national disgrace in all its ramifications.

Learning from History is yet another implication of this critical comparative thematic literary analysis for nation building in Nigeria. Currently in Nigeria there is no evidence that political leaders learn from History. For instance, several successive senate presidents and speakers of the lower chamber of the national assembly in the first decade of the nation’s democratic experiments committed the same nature of offence for which their predecessors were impeached. Some of them even outsmart the ex-incumbents. Again, the recurrent poor standing of the country’s national team at senior world cup level shows that our leaders do not learn from History. This is true, given the vociferations of sports analysts both on air and in print which adduce gross administrative lapses to be responsible for the poor standing. For example, a great majority of the analysts see no justification for always entrusting the fate of the team to one foreign coach after another for every world cup event, especially the one before the current incumbent technical adviser whose record of work reflect no sterling competence. See Meribe (2010:12). Even the current incumbent has not performed any wonder, since Super Eagles, our national team, is yet to play world cup matches at the quarter-final level talk less of semi-final and final levels. It is, therefore, imperative that political office holders in Nigeria begin immediately to learn from History and avert all avoidable socio-political problems by doing so.

5.0 Conclusion     

The recommendations in the foregoing paragraphs are long overdue. Hence, the earlier they are implemented, the better so that Nigeria and other third-world countries by extension can rank among advanced democracies like Orwell’s England which most effectively appropriated his critique of her political deficiencies to perfect her political leadership. The excuse of ‘learning process’ usually adduced by Nigerian politicians, for instance, is no longer tenable. At approximately fifty-seven, Nigerian politicians ought to have learnt enough given the benefit of hindsight provided by the past political miscalculations of developed democracies in Europe and America.


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