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KIU Book Club: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


By Rogers Wanambwa 

KIU, Main Campus - Have you ever wondered why literature written by Africans is hard to find? I always do!

 Chimamanda's style of writing is so captivating that when you start reading her works like this one or her other books like Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus, you could find yourself reading them in a few nights like I read Americanah in two.  

She brings to the surface quite a number of hard issues and topics, some that are often overlooked.

 Issues like how it is hard for most white people to fathom a wealthy African.

 "It was like a conjurer’s trick, the swift disappearance of his hostility. His face sank into a grin. She, too, was the help. The universe was once again arranged as it should be," Ifemelu, the main protagonist of the book, marvels at a white cleaner’s response to her, a black person opening the door to a stately home. 

Like the way African women will go to lengths to change their hair and skin colour and the fact that it is the society that has precipitated this.  

Or how comparisons between Africans and African Americans are often misconstrued like in this paragraph where Ifemelu tells Laura, one of the characters, about one of her never-ending comparisons.  “Maybe when the African American’s father was not allowed to vote because he was black, the Ugandan’s father was running for parliament or studying at Oxford,” Ifemelu said.

"Ifemelu wanted, suddenly and desperately, to be from the country of people who gave and not those who received, to be one of those who had and could, therefore, bask in the grace of having given, to be among those who could afford copious pity and empathy," here the main protagonist is at loggerheads with going back to Africa and staying in the US, another factor many Africans that go abroad are faced with. 

Chimamanda amazingly paints a broad picture about quite a number of other issues like factoring long distance into love, what is expected of those that go abroad when they finally return home and so, or how jobs are gotten and how it feels to realize that some of those you left behind are doing way better than you among other things. 

Americanah is an amazing read especially for the youth of this generation. 

Picture credit: Politics and Prose