"He Being Dead Yet Speaketh": The Legacy of Amos Tutuola

Timothy T. Ajani


This paper takes a fresh look at the legacy of Amos Tutuola, the first Nigerian author to write any full length novel in English, by throwing new light into why he wrote the way he did, and how his work is still relevant to us today. Tutuola has been an enigma, especially to fellow Nigerian authors since he first published his now popular The Palm-Wine Drinkard and His Dead Palm-Wine Tapster in the Deads´ Town. This pioneering work catapulted him to world acclaim almost overnight when it was given mostly positive critical reviews overseas. However, this did not sit well with everyone, not least, his fellow countrymen who have faulted his unconventional use of the English language. This paper argues that it is this same retooling of the conventions of English grammar and usage that sets Tutuola apart from other well known Nigerian authors.

Dr. Timothy T. Ajani is an Associate Professor of English and Foreign Languages in the Department of World Languages and Cultures, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina. His research interests are in the new Englishes, with specific emphasis on Nigerian English, focusing on the language of Wole Soyinka and Amos Tutuola. He has lived, studied and taught in Nigeria, France and the United States. He also writes, performs and publishes inspirational poetry during his spare time.

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