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Insult Literature

Adeyinka Olarinmoye Crafting a Journey

From Cocoa House to Lassa Fever

Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju
Comparative Cognitive Processes and Systems
Exploring Every Corner of the Cosmos
Search of Knowledge

Insult literature consists of denigrative expressions which demonstrate literary

Insult literature is a part of classical Nigerian performance art, as represented for
example, by a festival in my village, Imoga, in Edo state, in which social satire is
conducted through insults, from which context comes one such example in the
language, Okpameri, here rendered in my inadequate spelling:
Ekwabwale yanezameva, eyanezama sa, oleooogala! delivered in a beautiful, sing
song voice, declaring "your peers have three wives, have two wives,
consummate lazy bones that you are!", most likely ridiculing a man with no wife
or with one wife, in a time when polygamy was a demonstration of status.

Insult literature is also demonstrated in the interactions of Nigerians on the
Internet, particularly in the context of political debates, which may be described
as the central online activity of Nigerians on social media, an activity that
inspires fierce passions and a broad range of colourful expressions.
I collect insult literature on Nigerian centred social media and have made an
initial presentation of my efforts in "The Beauty of Insults". I also create insult
literature myself, having been involved in extensive forms of this practice, such
as an insult poetry contest arising from the differing political views of a group of
others and myself, as well as one in which the other person directed ridicule at
my family in vile terms relating to ancestry, some of the exchanges visible in the
lower posts on this thread, an experience I transformed into a scholarly essay
comparing his insults to the magnificent imaginative permutations of Howard
Philip's Lovecraft's fiction, centred in the exploration of human fears of cross-
species genesis and non-terrestrial life forms, and also built a website, The
Demented Nnabuaghas, taking the insult contest further by creating horrible
fictional personas for the other person's family.

The essay " 'Aquatic Ancestry' by Kingsley Nnabuagha and the Fiction of Howard
Phillips Lovecraft : A Study in Imaginative Convergence" was later anthologized
by David Haden in the TENTACLII : H.P. Lovecraft blog which guides readers to
scholarly literature on Lovecraft's work.
I am struck today by the concise force and historical sweep of the
insult delivered by Nigerian politician and academic Adeyinka Olarinmoye on
her Facebook wall on the 31st of March 2016, responding to a contribution to a
discussion in the context of a harsh exchange of words:

"take a high jump from Cocoa House, visit Sambisa with cutlass and demand to
see Shekau or look for lassa fever giving rats to make stew with."
This is classically beautiful in crafting a verbal punch consisting of allusions to
various positive and negative aspects in a sweep of Nigerian history.

The person addressed is being invited to commit suicide by jumping off the
height represented by Cocoa House, a structure perceived as iconic of the
development programs of Obafemi Awolowo, premier of Nigeria's Western
Region from 1 October 1954 to 1 October 1960, Cocoa House, completed in
1965, being then the tallest building in West Africa, penetrate the near mythic
Sambisa forest, its near mythicisation emerging from its being understood as a
central base of the Boko Haram Islamist terrorist group, having been pushed to
the outskirts of Borno state in 2013, after making their name through years of
spectacular bombings and shootings in population centres and massacres of
schoolchildren after their 2011 escalation, from which purported forest base
their leader Abubakar Shekau consistently made videos sent out to the world to
project the groups maniacal vision, leaving Nigerians wondering why the forest
seemed impregnable, to the 2015 Lassa Fever outbreak that claimed lives in
The references to these historical contexts are presented in a delightfully
ridiculous manner represented by the incongruous suggestion of challenging
heavily armed terrorists with a cutlass inside their forest base, making soup out
of rats known to carry a fatal disease and jumping off an iconic skyscraper.
The convergence of imagination and language that shapes literature, reworking
the conventional into the unusual or improbable, is a primal demonstration of
the ability of the human being to free themselves from the configurations defined
by society, nature and history, creating worlds that open a window into parallel
or intersecting possibilities, at various scales of the realizable and the

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