Postcolonial Transformations: the Forest in Ben Okri’s The Famished Road

by Nicoletta Brazzelli

In The Famished Road (1991) Ben Okri deals with the controversial effects of decolonisation in Nigeria and unfolds the devastating consequences of technological innovations on natural landscapes. Through the wanderings and perceptions of the abiku Azaro, Okri focuses on the ruthless enterprise of deforestation pursued by Western companies and exposes his nation’s inability to restore a harmonious relationship with the environment. The Famished Road also underlines the ancestral links of the forest with Yoruba folklore and imagination. In Okri’s novel, the forest acts as a reminder of the gradual disappearance of both natural resources and spiritual life in postcolonial Nigeria.