A review of Chimamamda Adichie’s “A Dirge,”

By Adeze Ojukwu

On February 28, 2023, celebrated Nigerian author and award-winning writer, Chimamamda Adichie wrote a profound letter, urging the United States(US) to support the current demand by Nigerians for transparency in the nation’s electoral process.

She concluded the missive with a dirge, which is currently making waves in the nation’s social media space.

Adichie chronicled the pain and torment that Nigerians were subjected to in the February 28 presidential election.

The letter, became viral, after it was published in New York Times with the title: “I Have Never Been So Proud of My Fellow Nigerians.”

She highlighted major glaring discrepancies in the election and criticized Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) for alleged complicity in widespread violations that occurred during the polls.

“There was a chilling lack of transparency from the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), which oversees elections.”

“This time, though, Nigerians were asked to place their faith in a new electronic voting system that would make tampering more difficult. Failing to upload the results in real time was the most egregious of the many irregularities of this election because it has destroyed the cautious trust with which many approached the process.”

“INEC blames technical issues for the delay. How, Nigerians wonder, can a well-funded electoral body that had four years to prepare for an important presidential election make such a significant blunder? It is reasonable, then, that many voters have assumed purposeful intent, that election workers were instructed not to upload results so that they could later be secretly manipulated.”

“Nigerians want a functioning democracy, and they are starting on the path to it but might be derailed unless the international community pays attention now. To pay real attention to Nigeria is to signal that Africa matters, as the United States has always maintained. The Biden administration needs to stand behind the Nigerian people now and make a firm commitment to support election transparency.”

Adichie ended her epistle with a seven-stanza dirge, that further underscored her lamentation over the alleged widespread irregularities that marred Nigeria’s presidential polls.

As a cerebral writer, Chimamamda combined a superlative descriptive diction and imagery to accentuate her sorrowful message.

Words such as dead, mourning, sorrow, graveyard among others, leave the reader, in no doubt, about the sad inner crevices of the poet’s mind.

Her disappointment is further buttressed by the ample use of antithesis, such as “The Peace Of The Graveyard,” “Only The Dead Are Celebrating” and “life and Death.”

She also deploys repetition, another metaphorical tool to emphasize the urgency of the motif and to capture the reader’s attention.

The repetition of words such as “none,” “death,” “living,” “no” and “there,” were effectively deployed for a compelling delivery of her somber theme.

To further authenticate, the elegy, the poet interweaves a vivid setting in the plot with names of places, as Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Ogun, Delta and FCT.

The reference to “Taxi Drivers, Okada Riders, To Market Women, Corporate Executives, Housewives and Preachers,” equally portrays a deep connection between the minstrel and the people affected by the unfortunate political circumstances of the country

The line “Who Voted For TINUBU? NOBODY!,” is undoubtedly the highpoint of this ode.

The naming of this notable Nigerian political figure, Adichie spotlights his involvement in the political crises in the country. This equally shows her courage and disdain for the nation’s corrupt political elite.

This powerful literary piece is another classical work from the stable of Nigeria’s highly celebrated author, Chimamamda Adichie.

Enjoy the full text of the dirge published below.

A Dirge
1. After A Presidential Election In Any Nation, There Is Usually Spontaneous Eruption Of Joy Nationwide

2. After The Announcement Of TINUBU As The Winner, Only The Dead Are Celebrating.

3. In The Land Of The Living, There Is Mourning, Sorrow, Amazement! From Taxi Drivers To Okada Riders, To Market Women, To Corporate Executives, To Housewives To Preachers.

4. There Is No Celebration In Lagos. None In Rivers. None in Sokoto. None In Taraba. None In Ogun. None In Delta. None In The FCT.

5. So, Who Voted For TINUBU ?


Only The Manufacturers Of The BVAS In Far Away India

6. There Is The Peace Of The Graveyard All Over Nigeria!

7. May Our Victories In life And Death Give Both The Living And The Dead Cause For Celebration!

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