War and the subaltern: Voice as power in Buchi Emecheta’s Destination Biafra





war, subaltern, voice, power, Nigerian civil war, androcentrism, Subaltern Studies, postcolonial criticism


In Africa, as in most other parts of the world, whenever there is war (or massive violence of any other hue), the common people are used as cannon fodder to protect the powerful upper class formulators of the letters of the war. Women and children are easily the most vulnerable. They are raped, tortured, murdered, starved, widowed, and exposed to all sorts of insecurity and depredation. In the end they are marginally characterized in upper class, male-centered war discourse. In this research, we locate the voice of the subaltern in Buchi Emecheta’s civil war novel, Destination Biafra (1982). We utilize Subaltern Studies in a qualitative approach to offer the needed agency to female subalterns as well as a few other marginalized groups. We map the trajectory of these voices and show that the subaltern woman and the other margins denounce colonial complicity in the androcentric war, and would rather the society eschewed violence as conflict resolution strategy. With this study we fill an existing gulf in the Nigerian Civil War narrative and create an alternative discourse against the largely upper class, male-centered voices that have hitherto characterized civil war novels.


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Author Biographies

Ogbu Chukwuka Nwachukwu, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Nigeria

Ogbu Chukwuka Nwachukwu is a lecturer in the Department of English and Literary Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Alex Ekwueme Federal University in Ndufu-Alike, Nigeria.

Oyeh O. Otu , University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Oyeh O. Otu teaches in the Department of English Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Onyekachi Eni, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Abakaliki, Nigeria

Onyekachi Eni currently serves as a senior academic with the Department of English and Literary Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Alex Ekwueme Federal University in Ndufu-Alike, Nigeria.


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How to Cite

Nwachukwu, O. C., Otu , O. O. ., & Eni, O. . (2021). War and the subaltern: Voice as power in Buchi Emecheta’s Destination Biafra. Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde, 58(2), 81–89. https://doi.org/10.17159/tl.v58i2.8598



Research articles