Full Summary and Analysis of Niyi Osundare’s “Not My Business”

This post guides you properly through knowing the full summary and analysis of Niyi Osundare’s “Not My Business.” It starts off from the biography of the poet to the the background of the poem before it proceeds to the analysis; on this post, you get all you need to know about Niyi Osundare’s “Not My Business.” You have to read more to discover more.

Biography of Niyi Osundare

Niyi Osundare was born in 1947 in Ikere-Ekiti in present-day Ekiti State. He is a prominent Nigerian poet, dramatist, and literary critic. He attended St. Luke’s Primary School, and Amaye Secondary School, both in his home town, Ikere-Ekiti. He finished his secondary school education at Christ School, Ado-Ekiti.

After his secondary school education, he proceeded to the University of Ibadan, where he acquired his Bachelor of Arts degree. He went on to bag his MA at the University of Leeds. Then obtained his PhD from York University, Canada. He returned to Nigeria, and lectured at the University of Ibadan for a long period of time.

Osundare has been a passionate writer against injustice and maladministration in Nigeria. His poems explore the tragedy that befalls the nation. He can be said to be in Achebe’s school of thought, who believes that a literary piece that is not exploring and tackling issues is dog sh*it. Thus, majority of his works tackle societal issues.

Due to his poetic style and his attempt to tackle societal issues, Niyi Osundare has gained a lot of recognition with his poems. He is one of the most popular poets in Nigeria. He has won some awards like the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, Nigeria National Merit award, and the Nigeria Author’s prize.

During Nigeria’s military junta, he wrote lots of popular poem tackling the government in power. As such, he was always under investigation by the military government. In the late 90s, Niyi Osundare left Nigeria to teach in the United States. He is still living and teaching in the United States.

The Background to the Poem

As it has been written earlier, Osundare wrote a lot of poems tackling several Nigerian governments in power. This is more especially the military governments, who committed lots of atrocities against Nigerians. This poem explores the situation of the harsh treatment of the citizenry by the Nigerian military government.  

He uses simple language and delicate storytelling in this poem to expose the draconian position of Nigeria’s military government. Through the use of storytelling and mixture of words, you can understand the plight of the citizens.

Full Summary and Analysis of Niyi Osundare’s “Not My Business”

The persona begins the poem by writing about Akanni who is “beaten like clay” and stuffed in a jeep. As Akanni is beaten up, there are witnesses to see the situation but they are less concerned because they are not Akanni. To them, if Akanni had minded his business, he won’t have been treated in such manner.

In addition to that, once they don’t deny them from where they eat, they shouldn’t be concerned about Akanni’s maltreatment and abduction. After Akanni, they come for Danladi. Danladi is treated the same way. After abducting him loudly from his house, no one hears from him for a long time.

Then, it is Chinwe’s turn. Chinwe’s situation is that she is relieved of her position. She is sacked even though she has a clean record. The persona does not state why she is sacked. However, it is believed it is because of how outspoken she is. Anyone involved in speaking against the government is either abducted, brutalized, or sacked.

The persona writes that the man in the poem is still having this mentality of “Not My Business” since he still eats his yam until they finally come for him. Symbolizing his means of livelihood he was trying so hard to protect taken away from him, the persona writes that the man eats his yam when they come for him. Obviously, his freedom and his “yam-eating minding my business” approach are taken away from him.

Themes in Niyi Osundare’s “Not My Business”

Government’s Brutality: This is the predominant theme in the poem. Government brutalizes the populace. They arrest and abduct, or sack, anyone speaking against the government. In the poem, Akanni and Danladi are abducted, then Chinwe is sacked, before the yam-eating man is abducted too. It also boils down to the government’s brutality of the people.

Citizens’ Carefree Attitude: The citizens’ carefree attitude equally helps out in increasing the government’s brutality. A large percentage and number of the citizens don’t care in challenging the status quo. To them, their food and means of livelihood are still intact. Why worry about the abduction and brutality?

Corruption and Maladministration: The military government is corrupt, and administrates the country badly, this is why they are always getting criticized. The criticism leads them to commit more atrocities and maladministration as they arrest and abduct people who speak against them. This leads to bigger crisis for the government and the country.

Figures of Speech in Niyi Osundare’s “Not My Business”

Simile: This figure of speech appears in the poem in lines like “ … Beat him like soft clay.”

Personification: “A knock on the door froze my hungry hand,” “ .. bewildered lawn,” and “… stuffed him down the belly of a waiting jeep.”

Sound Devices

Onomatopoeia: There is the use of onomatopoeic words in the poem like “savouring,” “booted,” and few others.


This full summary and analysis of Niyi Osundare’s “Not My Business” does good justice to this poem. You have to read the poem while reading this analysis to help you out. We wish you success in your exam!

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