Oluwole Coker: Redistribution as Metaphor for the Quest for Justice

Redistribution as Metaphor for the Quest for Justice in African Cultural Production

Oluwole Coker

The notion of justice as a major thrust in African cultural productions is premised on the near absence of mechanisms that assure the same in the three major diversities poetic justice, natural justice and legal justice. The quest for justice, for example, as an essential driving force in law is also synonymous with literary endeavours especially in under-developed societies like Nigeria, whose citizens have been victims of misrule and despotic leadership. As such, the notion of justice and the ceaseless clamour for the same in postcolonial societies speak to the problematic construct of redistribution. As a matter of fact, from the theoretical standpoint of socialist realism, especially Marxism, the imbalance in wealth distribution by economic forces is at the heart of social inequalities. In this paper therefore, I subject two postcolonial texts, Ola Rotimi’s The Gods are Not To Blame and Oladejo Okediji’s Rere Run, to close readings.This is with a view to demonstrating that the interdisciplinary aesthetics of law and literature is appropriated in African cultural productions to engage socio-economic and political issues which bother about the quest for justice in the Nigerian society. The paper is premised on the theory of Marxism, and it wants to explore the state of the public justice system in Nigeria. The texts underscore the obvious laxities of the Nigerian system and how these provoke agitations for human rights. The paper shows that the immediate conflict in the universe of the plays is a fall-out of the challenge of redistribution of the commonwealth. African cultural productions are thus shown as templates of engaging the imperative of redistribution thereby averting the tragic turn. The paper suggests the centrality of the place of redistribution as a metaphor for attaining natural and poetic justice that guarantee socio-economic advancement.

Oluwole Coker is a Senior Lecturer in Literature-in-English at the Department of English, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. His interests lie in postcolonial African fiction, orature and interdisciplinary studies. He has published in these areas in local and international outlets. Dr. Coker is a Postdoctoral Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies/African Humanities Program (2014); Laureate of Council for Development of Social Science Research in Africa and the Child and Youth Institute (2015); Fellow of the Summer Program in Social Sciences, Institute of Advanced Studies, Princeton (2015-2017) and Fellow of the Brown International Advanced Research Institute, Brown University (2017).


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