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Unsaid things

In “On Monday of Last Week,” Kamara is a woman who does not speak up about her feelings on various issues. The opening scene with Kamara touching herself while standing in front of a mirror, “…examining her lumpy middle and imagining it flat as a book cover, and then she would close her eyes and imagine Tracy caressing it with those paint-stained fingers,” expresses the untold feelings she has toward Tracy. The discussion of Tracy throughout most of the story is minimal until the last couple of pages. Tracy is described as an artist and seem to have an attraction to Kamara when they meet in the kitchen (87). The women exchange few words that lead to going to Tracy’s studio and Tracy asking Kamara to be a nude model for her (89). The sexual tension between women presents the topic of homosexuality. But, Kamara declines Tracy’s offer and sees her later on in the story with Tracy declining to paint her in that moment. The class conversation for the past weeks has been about silence and homophobia in Africa. The topic of homophobia is not explicitly told in the story, but Kamara hints to the denial of it when she talks to Tracy expressing the fear of her feelings coming out. The story also alludes to a silence that where people do not speak up for themselves. Kamara often throughout the story is silent about different affairs and has a inner struggle over the decisions being made around her or for her. The scene of Kamara discussing the way of how she came to America is a more reserved story with her thoughts that were never shared. The ending also shows as an example of the silence of not knowing how to explain difference with Neil not fully explaining the status of the relationship between him and Tracy. The story shows the elements of silence while also showing the fear of homophobia in American society. Any thoughts???

Critiquing American Parenting

In her collection of short stories, Chimamanda Adichie does something that is quite ironic. Typically in American books, short stories and movies, when an African character is presented, they are presented with all of the stereotypes of Africans. In movies, African men are seen as very angry men who always carry around large guns; women are shown in small villages weaving baskets; and of course the children are always portrayed with “pot-bellies”. Through Adichie’s short stories, she reveals the stereotypes of Americans, especially women.

One passage that really stood out to me is in regards with the typical characteristics of an American mother and how they treat their children. In the story, “On Monday of Last Week,” Adichie critique’s how parents, especially mothers, care for their children through Kamara. After getting of the phone with Neil, she thinks about how American parenting in a nutshell is constantly worrying about the health and safety of the child. Though not directly, Adichie presents the attitude towards Americans that just because their child has a full stomach they have time to obsessively worry about little sicknesses that in reality are nothing to worry about. The “sated belly” she talks about is a symbol for security. If a child is full, then this means the family must be living a comfortable life. This is also a comment on the stereotype that when an African child is shown as very thin in a movie or in a commercial asking for donations, he or she must live a very hard life, when in reality this assumption in many cases is not true. Adichie also comments on the fact that in America it is now seen as a major accomplishment if parents are able to raise their children well. Where in Africa, and as it should be all around the world, parents are expected to instill good values in their children, thus it is the norm for children to be raised well by their parents. Kamara says that it bothers her how women go on television and brag about how much they love their babies. Understandably, this is because Kamara believes it is not an achievement to love your children, but the expectation that you would do so.

In general Adichie’s main point in all of her stories, but more specifically in “On Monday of Last Week,” is that while Americans are judging and stereotyping the lifestyles of Africans for so much violence and not enough development in countries, Americans have begun to lose simple values. One of these values is to love your child unconditionally without seeing it as a major achievement.

Engrained Religious Tension

Reading The Thing Around Your Neck highlights the issues and conflicts in Nigeria. Specifically the conflict between the Muslims and Christians, the natives and the South and North. The short story, “A Private Experience,” highlights the deeply rooted issues between Christians and Muslims but the change in perspective once Chika and the Muslim woman attempted to gain refugee together. Boko Haram is one of the most well known, violent Muslim extremist group based in northern Nigeria with attempts to remove Western education. Religious tension between the two groups is a century old issue, being the leading cause for the 1967 Civil War and a height of religious violence in 1980 in Kano.

In May, a month after the terrorist group kidnapped 276 school girls, BBC published an article analyzing the question many Western countries have been asking, “Why Nigeria has not defeated Boko Haram.” The issue goes further than the basics of this one issue; the government is not established enough to deal with such issues. Something important to note, is that both of these religious groups have been instigators in the fighting, while only one, the extremist Muslims, have been declared a terrorist group.

The short time shared by Chika and the Muslim woman are intimate, with hints of fear and pain.  Both of them loose a loved one, and are burdened by the pain of their location, while fear what could happen. They are both innately aware of the horrible violence that has been brought upon the clash of these two groups. Yet, it should be noted, that most of this violence is instigated by extremists, or at least the one’s trying to dominate power. Boko Haram claims one of its goal is to gain political intention, but even when there was a Muslim president in power, the violence still reigned on.

For now, the best thing anyone can do is to get themselves educated. Adiche’s short story, such as “A Private Experience” gives insight into the complications of this conflict with emotional embodiment. Before understanding the issue, one must educate themselves on the ingrained societal and religious differences that cause this tension in the first place.


“Single-page story”

All Our Names is a novel that traces identity. While it obviously traces the identity of names, such as stated in the title, the novel also highlights a topic particular to this course, the danger of a single story.

First of all, the story is told from two perspectives, regarding one character, Isaac. While both Helen’s story and Langston’s story is told blended into the story telling of present and past Isaac respectively. Both Helen and Langston share the extent of their history, telling about their family and often sharing anecdotes, while Isaac rarely opens up. When Helen finally reads Isaac’s file, there was only a single piece of paper with his basic information: name, birth date and why he was in the United States. She claimed, “In comparison, Isaac’s single-page life story had seemed like a blessing when I first saw it” (98). Similar to the fatal single story referenced at the end of Things Fall Apart, Helen goes on to describe Isaac’s file, “The only solid fact was his name, Isaac Mabira, but even that was no longer substantial: any name could have filled that slot, and nothing would’ve changed” (98).

Helen knows that there is so much more life to Isaac then that is presented in the file. But just as many of those represented from Africa are today, their stories lack individuality and identity when presented in the western world. Most of the western world’s perspective is that all of Africa is war-torn, violent and poor. Chimamanda Adichie highlights these issues in her TEDtalk “The Danger of a Single Story” and the website, Africa Is a Country, published an article about “Telling ‘the African story’” ( can be found here: theme is essential to understanding this course and African literature as a whole. While every story may be different, and more complicated than others, everyone has a past and a story to be told.

“Half of a Yellow Sun” Film Review