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This research examines the Concept of Neo-Colonialism in Joe Ushie’s A Reign of Locusts and Eyoh Etim’s Songs of Our Time.  The poets focus on the concept of neo-colonialism in an independent country like Nigeria.  The ill practice of neo-colonialism right from independence of Nigeria till date are highlighted, the negative effects of neo-colonialism portrayed by the poets in the economy, social and political culture of an independent country like Nigeria are analyzed.  The content of this research work is in four chapters; chapter one comprises the introduction, statement of the problem, objective of the study, significance of the study, theoretical framework, related literary review on the concept of neo-colonialismChapter three treat the analysis of neo-colonialism in Eyoh Etim’s Songs of Our Time.  The negative effect portrayed by the poets include:  exploitation and oppression, starvation and poverty, injustice and victimization, unemployment, election violence, while chapter four comprises comparative analysis and conclusion  


Title page






Table of contents


1.1   Introduction

1.2   Statement of the Problem

1.3   Objectives of  the study

1.4   Significance of the study

1.5   Methodology

1.6   Scope of the study

1.7   Theoretical framework

1.8     Authors bio data

1.9   Review of Related Literature


2.1 Exploitation/Oppression

2.2 starvation and poverty

2.3 Injustice and victimization


3.1     Exploitation/Oppression

3.2     Starvation/unemployment

3.3     Election Violence


4.1     Comparative Statement/Analysis on both Authors

4.2     Conclusion

Works cited 

1.1            Introduction

In literary studies, neo-colonialism is a concept formed from colonialism. It refers to socio-economic problems and political crises that takes place in a once colonized country after independent. Neo-colonialism means a new form of colonialism within the Africans who had independent and control the government and the resources of their countries. When African had independence, Africans thought that, they are free from oppression and exploitation meted on them by the White colonialists and expected to enjoy the resources which belong to them.  

  Since independence, African writers are tireless of portraying the ills of neo-colonialism as perpetuated by their political leaders. It further traces this rift to the realities of western capitalism’s predatory dominations of Africa, which began with the brutalizing commodification of Africans as slaves, was followed by arbitrary creation of unworkable state which now reincarnated to neo-colonialism.

For instance, in Nigeria, history has shown that since 1960 that we had independent, several military coup had taken place under military regime that leads to the lost of lives in Nigeria. Also, Ken Saro Wiwa, a writer, was killed during General Sani Abacha’s regime in a military junta in Nigeria in 1995.  Likewise, Dele Giwa a journalist was killed in a letter bomb in 1986 under General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime. The two military political leaders were dictators who refused to hand over power to civilian. Even when M.K.O. Abiola won election in 1993, General Babangida annulled the election and sent Abiola into detention. In the course, Kudirat Abiola was assassinated by the hired assassins along a motor highway in Nigeria. In 2017, Nigeria experience economic recession which leads to as a result of economic mismanagement by our political leaders that brings hardship, famine, poverty, hunger etc to the masses in the country. A situation were a cup of garri is  sold at (N100.00) one hundred naira for a common Nigerian who is unable to afford three square meal a day is devastating. Whereas, the country is blessed with resources for the masses to benefit from.

 Also, some public companies were shifted to private sector in which the political leaders are stakeholders, where a stipulated amount is paid to government. They own production and control the resources for their own gain. A situation where the bourgeoisie class oppresses the proletariat because of their political position. This is in line with the capitalist ideology, in which the neo-colonialist, are operating in Nigeria.

 All these neo-colonial disillusionment are prevalent in Nigerian society. The African political leaders, whom the Africans trusted that would maintain justice, fairness, equality and true independence have failed to do so. Instead, the political leaders became high handed in their ruling and expose the masses to oppression, poverty, starvation, exploitation, victimization, corruption etc.

Kwame Nkrumah coined the word Neo-Colonialism. In the 1960s, Nkrumah in his book, Neo-colonialism the Last Stage of Imperialism (1965) summed it in his description of neo-colonialism as “… the worst form of imperialism.” He added that, “for those who practice it, it means power without responsibility and for these who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress.” Following the above description, it shows that neo-colonialism is far worst than that of colonialism because the victims are directly inflicted by their fellow Africans.

The neo-colonialist still maintains the pattern of the White colonialists who had been brain-washed through economic domination and poor governance. In the position of leadership our political leaders had set a pattern where the few rules and the masses suffer. In settling dispute, our leaders introduces court of law where only the rich gain justice and the poor is detained. Also in economic development, the masses   are still suffering from poor roads, network, lack of water supply and poor electricity supply that could enhance economic development.

 This is because our political leaders, out of their self-interest embezzle the public fund, and some even send the money to their foreign account and dumped it there. Their attitude of greediness hinders economic development. Therefore, writers serve as a voice for the masses to protest against evils of neo-colonialism, as depicted in the two texts under study. As Ken Saro Wiwa put it  in his book  A month and a Day, A Detention Diary (1999) “literature must serve society by steeping itself in politics, by intervention, and writers must not merely write to amuse or to take a bemused, critical look at society. They must play on interventionist role.”

Neo-colonialism is therefore prevalent in the 21st century society and it poses a major threat to human survival. In poetry a lot of attention of the poet is utilized to criticize, satirize, project the social ills that affect society. Since literature is a reflection of human experience in relation to his society, neo-colonialism becomes a subject matter in 21st century poetry, where the poets are faced with the problems of neo-colonialist in their societies that make life difficult for humanity. In this regard, the poets are projecting the ills of neo-colonialism and proffering solutions to them.

Joe Ushie and Eyoh Etim are among the 21st century poets who have identified the problems of neo-colonialism as emanating from socio-economic and political crises in the African nation. In order words, their literary works serve as a channel to neo-colonial cleansing in order to restore true independence.

In this study, Ushie’s A Reign of Locusts and Etim’s Songs of Our Time are used to show the poets’ portrayal neo-colonialism as well as socio-political needs and these portrayal is depicted in their selected poems under study.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

The socio-political and economic problems in African society are being addressed in African literature. However, over years, African literary writers have played a remarkable role in the development of Africa. The problems of new-colonialism in Africa is a serious matter that needs possible solution. Some African writers use their works to speak against neo-colonialist who exploit the fellow Africans and subject them to oppression, poverty, starvation, victimization etc. Neo-colonialism is practice in Nigerian society. This work intends to solve the  ills of neo-colonialism  with regards to Joe Ushie and Eyoh Etim poetry under study.

1.3     Objectives of the Study

The following are the objectives of this research.     

a)                 To examine oppression and exploitation of neo-colonialist as portrayed in selected poems of Ushie’s A Reign of Locusts and Etim’s Songs of Our Time.

b)                To examine  features of neo-colonialism in the poem analyzed

c)                 To examine the two poets’ contribution toward neocolonialism and how the problems should be solved.

1.4     Significance of the Study

This research work shall be of benefit to students of literature and other scholars who wish to study the poems in Ushie’s A Reign of Locusts and Etim’s Songs of Our Time in relation to neo-colonialism in the 21st century. It will be useful to literary students that may want to use for further research. The general public will also benefit from this research.

1.5     Research Methodology

This work is based on library research of primary and secondary sources. The primary sources are the two texts A Reign of Locusts and Songs of Our Time while the secondary sources shall include most literary reviews and other documented materials that are relevant to the work.

1.6     Scope of the Study

Both Ushie and Etim are renowned African poets with many works that propagate the effect of neo-colonialism in Africa. This study is limited to an examination of neo-colonialism in the works Ushie’s A Reign of Locusts and Etim’s Songs of Our Time.

1.7     Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework of this research is based on the theory of neo-colonialism. Neo-colonialism is concerned with socio-economic problems and political crises in Africa. It is a theory that addresses oppression and exploitation in the society. Issues such as, election violence, poverty, starvation, corruption, unemployment, unequal distribution of wealth etc. are some of the concern of neo-colonialism. It further traces this rift to the realities of Western capitalism’s predatory domination of Africa, which began with brutalizing commoditization of Africans as slaves, was followed by the arbitrary creation of unworkable states, which now reincarnated to neo-colonialism.

Kwame Nkrumah propounded the theory of neo-colonialism in 1965. He was the first President of Ghana. Neo-colonialism as Kwame Nkrumah posited, is the worst form of imperialism; Fanon in his book, The Wretched of the Earth opines thus, “During the colonial period, the people are called upon to fight against oppression; after national liberation, they are called upon to fight against poverty, illiteracy and underdevelopment.” The neo-colonial writers who have felt the ills of neo-colonialism are interested in true independence, fairness and justice, free and fair election, job creation, non-economic exploitation and equal distribution of wealth etc.

Vladimir Lenin posits in Pamphlet Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. That, the 19th century imperialism as the logical extension of geopolitical power, to meet the financial investment needs of the political economy of capitalism: (1963:pp667). The excerpt above shows that imperialism is a logical terms to monopolize the third world countries such as Africa by foreign countries through economic, dominance.

 Other proponents of neocolonialism are Jean Paul Satre Colonialism and Neocolonialism (1964) and Noam Chomsky The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (1979). They are western thinkers that write on neo-colonialism and their influences in the third world countries. Dependency theory is the theoretical description of economic neo-colonialism.  It proposes that the global economic system comprises wealthy countries at the centre, and poor countries at the periphery. Economic neo-colonialism extracts the human and natural resources of a poor country to flow to the economies of the wealthy countries. It claims that the poverty of the peripheral countries is the result of how they are integrated in the global economic system. Dependency theory derives from the Marxist analysis of economic inequalities within the world’s system of economies, thus, under development of th4r periphery is a direct result of development in the center.  It contrasts the Marxist perspective of the Theory of Colonial Dependency with capitalist economies. The latter proses that poverty is a development stage in the poor country’s progress towards full integration in the global economic system. Proponent of Dependency Theory, Federico Brito Figueroa, a Venezuelan historian, who investigated the socioeconomic bases of neo-colonial dependency, influenced the thinking of the former president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.

 In 1961, regarding the economic mechanism of neo-colonial control, in the speech Cuba Historical Exception Or Vanguard In The Anti-Colonial Struggl CheGuevara, Marxist Revolutionary, says;

We, politely refereed to a “underdevelopment,” in truth, are colonial, semi colonial or dependent countries. We are countries whose economies have been distorted by imperialism, which has abnormally developed those branches of industry or agriculture need to complement its complex economy. “Underdevelopment” or distorted development, brings a dangerous specialization in raw materials, inherent in which is the threat of hunger for all our peoples. We, the “underdeveloped” are also those with single crop, the single product, the single market. A single product whose uncertain sale depends on a single market imposing and fixing conditions. This is the great formulary for imperialist economic domination.(41)


 The writer portrays the negative effect of neocolonialism on the underdeveloped countries such as Africa.

In literature, critics or writers serve as a channel to voiced out the plight of the masses and depicted in their works. Writers used different critical approaches in attacking different issues in literature.  Neocolonialism is one of the approaches that is used by critics to project the negative effect of neocolonialist. As Niyi Osundare put it in the “Forword” Great Africans on the Record:

Osundare maintains that a writer in Africa:   is a person that people look up to, in whose work people are trying to see, know, they relate to the social, cultural and political problems that we are facing  in Africa (470).

Research carried out on African Literature seems to be so broad when we consider the three genres of literature that is drama, prose and poetry. Rather, African continent is viewed from the general perspective which is generally referred to as African Literature. African Literature is both region and country specific not only culture specific. It must reflect African reality in each piece of writing in all the genres of literature (Chinweizu et al, 1980). Similarly, Joe Ushie in his collection of poems in “A Reign of Locusts and Eyoh Etim’s Songs of our Time used words that depict African society especially in Nigeria.

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