From tragedy to triumph: a critique of selected poems in Idris Amali’s Generals without War


This critical analysis tagged From Tragedy to Triumph: A Critique of selected Poems in Idris Amali’s “Generals without War” is best understood in the context of Nigerian literary history. Barely five years after independence from Britain, a few soldiers from the Nigerian army headed by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu staged the January 15, 1966 coup. Since then, it was a tale of one military regime toppling the other. The democratic government of President Shehu Shagari was inaugurated on October 1, 1989 only for General Muhamadu Buhari to displace him in the December 31, 1983 military putsch. General Babangida toppled Buhari and later conducted an election in 1993. Moshood Abiola won a landslide victory, but Babangida aborted the process and installed the puppet civilian regime of Ernest Shonekan. General Sani Abacha displaced him after three months and later died in June 1998. General Abdulsalam became the new ruler and purposefully restored democratic rule in October 1999. On the whole, each military regime that displaced its predecessor claimed a “Messianic” role of coming to salvage the nation from ruin, restoring order and setting Nigeria on the right course of economic prosperity, peace and progress. Yet with a few notable exceptions, most of the military regimes plundered the nation, were despotic, lacking in discipline, and entrenched a culture of impunity that is at the centre of corruption in Nigeria today. Thus, the military liberators proved to be an affectation of who they actually claimed to be. It is in this context of dictatorship and maladministration that Idris Amali’s poems were written.

Amali, Idris. Generals without War. Ibadan: Malthouse Press Limited, 2000.

Biography of Idris Amali. Last modified November 16, 2021.

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Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travels. New York: Garden City Press, 1942.

Taylor, Jane. “Twikle, Twinkle, Little Star”


Published : 2021-12-30

Lar, I. B. (2021). From tragedy to triumph: a critique of selected poems in Idris Amali’s Generals without War. Transfer. Reception Studies, 6, 101-116.

Isaac Barko Lar
University of Jos   Nigeria