Combattre le mal: l’arme du chant collectif au cœur du conflit biafrais

Ugochukwu, Françoise (2010). Combattre le mal: l’arme du chant collectif au cœur du conflit biafrais. Journal des Africanistes, 80(1-2) pp. 29–50.


The power of songs in Igbo culture has already been mentioned in the works of Basden, Leith-Ross and Nwando Achebe. Yet the role played by war songs created during the Nigerian Civil War, and the reasons of their success, have never been studied in detail, and this is what this article sets out to do. The present study is based on a recording of sixteen songs in Igbo (6), English (8) and ijo (2) made at the height of the war, 15km away from the war front, just before the fall of Biafra’s make-shift capital, Umuahia in April 1969 ; it also considers those songs noted by French journalists visiting the enclave in 1968 and compares those with other songs from that war and inserted by Nigerian writers in novels inspired by the 1967-70 conflict and published in the years that followed. The article offers a thematic study of those songs, their style, structure and their languages, aimed at providing a better understanding of the reasons behind their progression from orality to the written form and their being selected by journalists and novelists such as Ekwensi, Ike, Adichie, Aniebo, Iroh and Akuneme.

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