This is a good full summary and analysis of J. P. Clark’s “Ibadan.”
About the Poet (J. P. Clark). Who is J. P. Clark?
- J. P. Clark was born and raised in Niger-Delta part of Nigeria. He was educated in the Niger-Delta and the rest of the South East before he got admitted to study at the University College, Ibadan. In the university, he was active in writing and delivered a lot of works for campus journals and magazines. After finishing from Ibadan, he wrote poems and plays that became popular. He is recognized as one of the top writers of Nigeria’s first generation of writers.
His works are deeply rooted in praise of African culture, heritage and landscape. His poem, “Ibadan,” came at the early point of his career and is influenced by his time in Ibadan. Most of his set in University College, Ibadan, were greatly attracted to the beauty of the hills of Ibadan and the sprawling brown-encrusted roofs of Ibadan. So, basically the poem is about the praise of Ibadan.
Where is Ibadan? Ibadan, the City of Seven Hills, Beautiful Landscape and Look
Ibadan is in the present day of Oyo State. Oyo State is in South-west Nigeria and bordered by Benin Republic, Ogun, Osun, and Kwara States. It is the capital of the state. At the point of Nigeria’s independence, it was Nigeria’s largest city and the largest in West Africa. It was home to over 100,000 people and even more populated than Lagos. At the early point of Nigeria’s existence, it was also the capital of South-western Region.
This was where the first university in Nigeria was established, today’s University of Ibadan. So, it can be said that this city produced the first generation. At the moment, the city is still one of the largest cities in Nigeria, in population and landmass. Due to its proximity, it has been able to play host to a good number of industries. Moreover, its proximity to the north means the cost of living is affordable.
Ibadan is mostly known for its lack of planning and ancient history. It is an ancient history with development and city-like status preceding beginning of colonialism. This is the reason why the city is unplanned and houses with brown roofs are sprawling everywhere. However, J. P. Clark does not criticize the city, instead it praises these qualities as adding to the beauty of the city.
It’s important you study this because you cannot understand the full summary and analysis of J. P. Clark’s “Ibadan” without knowing this.
Summary and Analysis of the Poem
The poem is a short poem of 5 lines. It uses run-on-line to give a short but vivid description of Ibadan. It starts with describing Ibadan as “running splash of rust.” Thus the reader through this imagery created gets to imagine the rust and brownness of the roofs in Ibadan. However, this rust and brownness is not put in the negative light, the persona associates it with colour of gold.
The persona also makes mention of the landscape of Ibadan writing about the hills that Ibadan is known of. Lastly, the symbol and imagery of broken China in the sun the persona uses is to represent the disorderliness of the city. The sun used is also to show the level of intensity of the sun. Just like in most cities in Nigeria, Ibadan has hot temperature and this affects the city whether in the dry or rainy season.
At the end, the persona is able to achieve praise of the beauty of Ibadan even in the face of its rustiness or disorderliness.
Themes in J. P. Clark’s “Ibadan”
Getting to know the themes in this short poem would be beneficial to coming to terms with the full summary and analysis of J. P. Clark’s “Ibadan.”
- Greatness of Ibadan – The poem in its entirety praises the greatness of Ibadan.
- Beauty of Nature – This is expressed in the poem and illustrated with “seven hills” and the “sun.”
- Unplanned City – This is shown in the persona’s use of “broken china in the sun.”
- Beauty of the Ancient – This is shown in the aspect that even though the roofs are “rust,” there is still beauty in them as expressed as gold by the persona.
Style/Language of the Poem
The predominant style used in the poem is short and run-on lines. The language and diction of the poem is easy to understand.
Furthermore, the predominant literary device or figure of speech used is Metaphor. In fact, the whole work even is a Metaphorical description of “Ibadan.”