The Writer And The Bar

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Writing is more than just a hobby; it’s like religion.

It is used to perform different social functions, especially within the context of the relationship between a writer and society.

Writers attempt to conscientise the masses to understand the nature of their problems, and the need for them to find ways of liberating themselves. The writer educates them that there is hope for the deprived majority.

Many writers have written about prisons.

They have shown that writing, as a social product, can be a vehicle of social transformation.

The ability to write to transform society depends on the writer’s responses to the crisis of his or her society.

The prison world is part of the larger society.

To a certain extent, a prison is a microcosm of the larger society because it is dependent on society for its existence.

The prison has been a fertile ground for writers.

It has produced great classics describing prison experience.

It has inspired an audience far outside the prison walls and this has gone a long way to influence social transformation and the class difference of society.

Writers and critics concentrate on such everyday phenomena, typify the conditions and struggles within, and produce works which inspire the masses to unite and struggle to transform their environment.

Writers attempt to treat, through divergent strategies, every facet of life behind bars, from arrest to release.

Unlike autobiographies, they tell story of a specific experience.

The telling of the story is necessitated by the brutality of that experience and the narration is motivated by a desire to publicise the nature of life behind bars.

In a country with a low literacy rate like Nigeria, the potency of writing is limited.

But this does not mean that it is impotent in changing the consciousness of the people.

Writing about prisons is usually fragmented, because the writer deliberately digresses in the process of narration as the focus shifts from point to point.

Contrast is predominantly used in prison writing.

It is a technique that enhances communication between the writer and the reader.

The relationship between the oppressed and their oppressors, the rulers and the ruled is revealed, and a sudden awareness on the part of the oppressed is clearly illustrated.

The writer usually represents the oppressed class.

They are often portrayed in their experience of poverty and subjugation which is part of prison life.

The uniformed men who are in charge of prisons represent oppressors and rulers.

While the oppressed languish in prisons, the oppressors have a field day.
A writer’s significance lies in his or her ability to live the perculiarity of his or her immediate social, political and economic environment.

The immediacy of his or her environment provides the platform from which they explore the entire fabric of the Nigerian experience whether political or social, and it works its way through society and time slowly.

Its eventual victory is not in doubt.

Prison writing and the roles of a writer in the liberation of the people from colonialism, political repression, injustice and exploitation of man by man usually sets out to explore the obnoxious condition of the people in and out of prison, and project the need for positive change, since the prison world is part of the larger society, even though most writers use the autobiographical point of view to examine the historical facts of the socio-economic and political life of society through the eyes of the narrator.

Prison writers are often seen showcasing the deplorable conditions of Nigerian prisons.

There is always the breakdown of infrastructure which is to further punish the inmates.

The writers talk about broken chairs, small windows, and unacceptable ways of passing excreta, unkempt environment and physical torture from some of the inmates and the security personnel as well.

These further compound the travails of the prisoner.

They talk about regimes that have come and gone with little or no regard for the prison world.

Their tone is usually blunt and harsh.

Embellishments are hardly noticed, even though the use of proverbs and metaphors are commonplace.

The colonial structure, pre- 1966 crisis and the post-war periods are often explored and history re-created.
There is a constant search for justice which had been absent in the foundation of Nigerian society.


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