Entwining the Omenala and Samskara: an Indo-Nigerian Ethnographic Study of Buchi Emecheta’s Fiction

A. Karthika Unnithan1 & Harini Jayaraman2

1Research Scholar, Department of English, Amrita School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India. Email:

2Professor, Department of English, Amrita School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India

 Volume 10, Number 1, 2018 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v10n1.06

Received September 27, 2017; Revised December 11, 2017; Accepted December 30, 2017; Published February 04, 2018.


Omenala is the Igbo word for the traditional religious practices and cultural beliefs of the Igbo people of southern Nigeria whereas Samskara is the Indian word for the cultural and traditional customs of India. The chosen topic for the study is the writings of a Nigerian author, Buchi Emecheta, since her novels reflect her Igbo heritage and represent Nigeria, more specifically Igbo society and who has also lived in her own indigenous culture and in London as well. The task at hand is an attempt at conducting an ethnographic study on the indigenous Igbo culture as seen in a few select novels of the author, simultaneously comparing it with the cultural features of India. The study also attempts to discuss the presence of cross-cultural practices as seen in the contemporary Nigerian society. The scope of study is restricted to only three of her works viz., Joys of Motherhood, Bride Price, and The Slave Girl. The basis of arguments in the study has been taken from Katherine Fishburn’s interactive reading that demands reading across cultures and also reading our own selves. She, in her book Reading Buchi Emecheta: Cross-cultural conversations, mentions that to initiate a cross-cultural conversation with a novel, involves a give-and-take, “where I question it, and it questions me.” (Pref.X). Fishburn further points out that “Though it is possible that we may never fully understand these alien practices, we may learn more of ourselves from our very inability to understand” (xiii). Based on this, a cultural study of Nigeria is taken upon in this paper while looking through the eyes of an Indian reader constantly comparing one with the other.

Keywords:  Cultural-study, ethnographic-reading, Igbos, translation, Nigerian writings, amalgamation.