Author Archives: Maya Fernandez
Williams Magunga’s short story, details the final moment of the life a young man desperate to achieve fame in Nairobi. The story delicately portrays the main character of Philip as a man who’s obsession with becoming a famous rapper dictates every moment of his life. Magunga not only describes Philip in a vivid manner but simultaneously utilizes Philip’s view point to frame the lens in which the city of Nairobi is portrayed. The story ultimately questions the validity of fame and how it has become a virus that blinds people from viewing the world fully.
“No one would ever understand how, if they shared the same childhood and background, one could be gay. But that was just it. In that lay the answer to all their questions. They could all share the same background, home or memories, they could even be twins or triplets and one of them could still turn out gay, because that’s the way it just was. He was simply who he was and always had been from the moment he was aware of himself” (193).
Jude Dibia’s novel Walking with Shadows explores concepts of homosexuality within Nigeria prior to the passing of laws that prohibit homosexuality. Though this novel is viewed as controversial for illustrating what it means to be gay in a very homophobic setting, it ultimately aims to provide readers with a humanized depiction of homosexuality. Within Nigeria homosexuality is portrayed as demonic as well as highly criticized. However, Dibia’s novel allows readers to understand that homosexuality is not something to be considered deviate but simply apart of a person’s identity. After being attacked by a Pastor that his brother hired, Adrian contemplates how sexuality is not something that develops based upon a bad up bring, but that it is strictly something one is born with. This revelation that occurs when Adrian’s other brother helps him recover from the beating seems to be what the novel aims exemplify. Adrian is positioned as a character who leads a life that fits the constraints of a stereotypical Nigerian male which allows his sexual orientation to exist regardless. As the majority of the characters begin to understand that Adrian’s sexuality is not a detriment, there is an overwhelming consensus that homosexuality is not something that is inherently bad. Dibia’s explores the concept of nurture being related to whether or not someone is gay. He ultimately dispels the belief that homosexuality is a product of one’s upbringing through this moment of sibling understanding. Dibia’s novel and specifically this scene serve as not only a call for a discussion of gay rights within Nigeria, but he also brings forth the understanding that homosexuality is not a choice but apart of one’s innate being.
Hello All! Below is a link to my Amazon review of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah. I read it this summer and loved it. I would definitely recommend this book because it is a wonderful novel that intertwines the American and Nigerian identity as well as tackling topics such as race, love and culture. Enjoy!
“Each time I realize that an empty stomach is man’s master. And I’ll realize the extent to which misery eats up man’s humanity” (133).
In class we have discussed the ways in banal and everyday violence can affect humanity. In Patrice Nganang’s Dog Days, the story of an economically suffering Cameroon is described by a dog whose master has recently lost everything. With the economic deficit affecting everyone throughout the country, the banal violence begins to appear without mercy. The often identifies the ways in which men lose sight of humanity when faced with constant everyday violence. In the passage above, the author positions poverty and extreme hunger as and example of man separating one’s self from humanity. The dog describes how when people are face with hunger, they subsequently as well as theoretically become enslaved by the lack of food. He identifies that this hunger is one that removes man from humanity. The dog ultimately insinuates that when faced with starvation and poverty people ultimately are positioned as dogs. The overarching theme throughout the novel of the dog narrating the story of the humans around him allows the reader to explore the view of a being who is placed at a subservient level to humans. When the economic crisis arises the humans lose the agency that they once possessed that allowed them to exert control over their life. When hungry however, their agency no longer exists along with their humanity. Nganang identifies that humanity is connected to the ability for one to possess power. Once the power is no longer accessible, one no longer has the agency to exercise power over one’s daily life.When hungry however, their agency no longer exists along with their humanity. Nganang identifies that humanity is connected to the ability for one to possess power. Once the power is no longer accessible, one no longer has the agency to exercise power over one’s daily life. Nganang seems to be critiquing the aspects of humanity through his illustration of the dog as the seemingly only being who never exerts malicious intent. The identification of one losing their humanity as them being forced to the level of the dog is accurate but it does not touch up the difference between the intentions of a dog and the intentions of a man without humanity. From this passage one can conclude that man finds misery in poverty and a lack of humanity, while the dog is able to remain pure from malcontent even when faced with an absence of agency.
This is the new scramble for Africa. The scramble for space. A hundred years ago it was us they were fighting over. Our land, our wealth, our soul (149).
In Aminatta Forna’s novel The Memory of Love, the position of the post colonial African is exemplified through subtle and overt representations. One subtle representation occurs when Elias Cole is recalling the night in which the first man set foot on the moon. This historic event is viewed by many as something to celebrate, while Elias and his colleagues analyze the implicit meaning of the act of the space race. Julius’ friend Kekura identifies that this achievement for the western world is another example of the power colonizers seeks. He compares the colonization of African countries to the race to achieve power based upon actions involving space. This comparison emphasizes the way in which western countries become obsessed with power but are quick to move to another source of achievement. His fellow counterparts validate with his observation by agreeing with his statement. Forna utilizes this moment to express and overlying theme throughout the novel. The novel depicts three different men in Sierra Leone in two different time periods. Regardless of their individual durations of time, each of the men represents a different version of the aftermath of decolonization. Elias Cole’s story takes place directly after the decolonization of the country as political tensions and civil unrest is beginning to emerge. His narrative reflects the initial burden that the country is left with following the United Kingdom’s decision to seek power elsewhere. Both Adrian and Kai are doctors in the country a few years after the end of the Civil War. In contrast to Elias’ position, the country is not struggling to thrive without it’s successor, but attempting to recover after the aftermath of abandonment without resources to thrive. Kekura’s observation acts as a thematic plot device that highlights the overarching theme throughout the novel of living in the aftermath of conflict.
Raol Peck’s award-winning film, Lumumba, focuses on the life of Patrice Lumumba as he attempts to achieve freedom for the Republic of Congo in the 1950s and 1960s. Peck utilizes juxtaposition to incorporate multiple views of the conflict that occurred throughout the last few months of Lumumba’s life. This well-rounded focus provides insight into the events that is not completely one-sided while simultaneously exploring the injustices that existed throughout the path to independence. What I found particularly interesting was the ways in which Peck displayed both sides of the conflict, in particular once the chaos occurred after Lumumba and Kasavubu took power. While many people were fine with whites remaining in power positions throughout the government and military, many soldiers and direct subordinates found it to be contradictory towards the independence of the country. Lumumba fought for his people to gain power but the Belgium influence remained ever present. Peck shows the ways in which the Belgium government’s plot to regain control of over the Congo ultimately extended the cycle of violence. Their dehumanization of the Congolese soldiers led to their gruesome retaliation. Though the soldiers’ choice to retaliate by killing and raping the whites that remained in the country is a terrible form of protest, Peck makes sure the audience is able to grasp why. Acts of violence are never a suitable answer but imagine how frustrating and dehumanizing it is to be forced to remain subservient when your freedom was supposedly declared. These methods of retaliation were a result of the constant injustices that remain in the Republic of Congo. For Lumumba it was as if no matter how hard he fought for freedom, the Belgium influence and presence remained without waiver. Peck’s decision to show both sides of the injustice provides the audience with a view of the Belgium people as products of colonization and the Congolese as products of oppression. As each side continued their battle for power Peck makes it increasingly evident that this cycle of violence remains constant in the face of oppression.
Though much of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart features a focus on the daily life of the Ibo tribe in Nigeria, as the novel develops it becomes a story of one’s attempt to maintain manhood in the face of adversity. Throughout the first part of the novel, Okonkwo attempts to remain the man that he has worked so hard to become while simultaneously resisting weak methods of living. For Okonkwo, he constantly feels the need to fight off the unpredictable occurrences of life that attempt to affect his manhood and personal being. Throughout the novel each decision he makes reflects that of his ability to maintain his status as a powerful man in society. To seem weak is to admit failure. When Ikemefuna, the surrogate son of Okonkwo, is sentenced to death, Okonkwo’s manhood is tested when he is given the option in participating the young man’s death. In an attempt to distance himself from an association with inadequacy, Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna. Achebe writes that, “Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak” (61). Though for Okonkwo, killing Ikemefuna was a moment deep despair, his immense desire to remain a man of powerful standing overpowers his personal confliction. The first part of the novel focuses on Okonkwo’s struggle to maintain his manhood within the constraints of daily life, but as his world begins to drastically change, his manhood is ultimately tested by the religion seeking invaders.
When Okonkwo returns to his village after exile, he finds that his clan that he once viewed with admiration has now become susceptible to the influence of European missionaries. The modification of the clan affects Okonkwo deeply. For him, the tribe’s allowance for the missionaries to stay is a sign of weakness, therefore causing shame. This shame attacks Okonkwo’s manhood and brings forth an everlasting need for personal approval. Achebe states that, “Okonkwo was deeply grieved. And it was not just a personal grief. He mourned for the clan, which he saw breaking up and falling apart, and he mourned for the warlike men of Umuofia, who had so unaccountable become soft like women” (183). The connection between Okonkwo’s personal manhood and his identification with the tribe is tested by the presence of the missionaries. His ultimate decision to end his life is due to the unwavering attacks at his self identity. Achebe connects Okonkwo’s constant desire for manhood with the multitude of ways in which his society and the arrival of the missionaries counteracts his efforts to resist weakness.