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‘Reconfiguring Others’: Negotiating Identity in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah

Niyi  Akingbe1 & Emmanuel Adeniyi2

1Professor, Department of English Studies, University of South Africa (UNISA), City of Tshwane, Pretoria, South Africa. Email: deniakingbe@yahoo.com

2Lecturer, Department of English and Literary Studies, Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Oye-Ekiti,Ekiti State, Nigeria. Email: ayomercy2011@gmail.com

 Volume 9, Number 4, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n4.04

Received October 15, 2017; Revised November 20, 2017; Accepted November 30, 2017; Published December 09, 2017.

Abstract

An examination of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah reveals a mapping of exponential growth of obtrusive racial tension which leaves in its wakes prejudice, acrimony and hatred. The article argues that despite its dialogic engagement with the possibility of harmonizing the varied characters’ racial/cultural backgrounds, Adichie’s Americanah’s experimentation with transculturalism faded in a miasma of morbid biases and despair. This failure has a marked impact on the cultural downturn in the lives of African immigrants and other economic migrants from other parts of the world who are trapped in the social contradictions prevalent in America and England. Through concerted efforts, Adichie negotiated interracial harmony among her characters in Americanah; especially among ethnocentric characters cocooned in private world of hate, snobbishness and recherché referenced by the turbulent contemporary world. Invariably, Adichie as a transcultural writer is bounded by the need to illustrate issues which verge on individuals’ intolerance for people outside their ethno-cultural or socio-political backgrounds. Nevertheless, Americanah’s transcultural trope appreciates the fluidity of the present age: the confluence of global cultures, the mobility as well as nomadic nature of the 21st-century man and the need to engender a monolithic cultural outlook in a culturally polyvalent society. The paper concludes that transculturalism could only manifest in a globally differing society if the walls of ethnocentrism and racism insulating it collapse. Curiously, transculturalism in Americanah ostensibly failed due to the obtrusive racial intolerance exhibited by the varied characters who appear to have determined to cling to the divisive racial sentiments identified in their attitude.

Keywords: ‘reconfiguring others’, negotiating identity, Americanah, African immigrants, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

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