Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah is about a Nigerian woman named Ifemelu who has grown up in Lagos, Nigeria and transitions into life in America. She is in love with a man named Obinze and their future plans are scattered as Ifemelu heads to America and Obinze gets stuck in London due to the post 9/11 events. Before life in America, she has never considered herself to be black and it is not until many events start to play out where Ifemelu begins to understand the role that race is going to play on her experiences in the United States. This novel not only examines how race plays major roles in identity, but also recognizes the many injustices that follow in areas such as relationships. For example, after some time in the United States, Ifemelu runs out of money and is desperate to make ends meet. She takes a job to help a tennis coach “relax” and Ifemelu is filled with guilt. She ignores any contact with Obinze. She eventually gets a job babysitting for a very wealthy family and begins to date the prosperous cousin, Curt, who provides Ifemelu with a job, a green card, and takes her on extravagant vacations. In this interracial relationship, she starts to see many examples of her race taking a toll on their relationship. Many individuals question Curt’s likelihood that he is dating a black woman. His identity thrives off of his wealth and status. Frustrated with the remarks and incidents that occurred, Ifemelu cheats on Curt and the relationship ends. This relationship could be a representation of Hegel’s Master-Slave dialectic. Ifemelu represents the slave as she has reached a point in her life where she is struggling to make ends meet and is feeling ashamed for the means in which she can obtain some money. When she meets Curt, she must give up her recognition as an African American and instead start to assimilate into a life of an American African and in this way, she can assist Curt in his pursuit to help her obtain a job and green card. Curt represents the master who helps shape Ifemelu into an American African. Eventually, Ifemelu cheats because she realizes that she has given up her desire for being recognized as an African American. Adichie exemplifies the roles that race, status, and wealth can play in identity. Ifemelu’s move to the United States provides so many instances in which her job and relationships attempt to Americanize her and thus exemplifies so many injustices based on racism. This novel provides a comparison of the roles that race and power play in identities in both Nigeria and America and I believe that Adichie stresses this comparison in order to show how systemic injustices are formed among different cultures and lifestyles.
The story of missionary work in colonial Africa begins with The Age of Discovery. This is a period where European powers set their sights on exploring the world. This was the start of a global economy, and colonialism. The British colonized many nations including Nigeria in order to exploit native labor and natural recourses beginning in the 1700’s (Reviews). Their justification for colonization was that they were providing better education and healthcare to the natives (Nigeria – Influence). Another primary justification for colonization was for missionary work. Today, Christianity is criticized in the context of Colonialism because the it was used to justify Colonialism. The British, along with many other European empires, pillaged these counties of resources, engaged in human trafficking of the native people, and exploited their labor in the collection of these resources.
Missionaries attempted to convert as many native people as possible to Christianity. This affect of this works is still apparent today where nearly half of Nigerians are Christian (Nigeria – United). Different denominations of Christianity divided the Nation into their own spheres of influence in order not to compete with each other. Among the Igbo, Catholic missionaries were particularly present. In fact, the British were successful in largely eliminating common practices in Nigeria of human sacrifice and the killing of infant children. The missionaries felt that spreading the gospel to these people was of great importance, and actively tried to erase their beliefs in Polytheism. British missionaries even promoted the Natives into leadership positions within the church. In fact, the British missionaries were successful in largely eliminating common practices in Nigeria of human sacrifice and the killing of infant children.
The Christian missionaries of the Colonial Age worked in very different ways from the missionaries of today. They believed that converting native people to Christianity was of such dire importance that they felt justified in forcibly and violently converting them. This did much damage not only to those directly impact by the hostility, but to the generations of lost culture and tradition of native religions all across Africa.
Nigeria – Influence of the Christian Missions, countrystudies.us/Nigeria/14.htm
“Nigeria – United States Department of State.” U.S. Department of State, https://www.state.gov/countries-areas/nigeria/
Reviews in American History: A Quarterly Journal of Criticism. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1973. Print
Nigeria is a country in West Africa. It was colonized by the British in 1884 and the colony is established at the Berlin conference which divides Africa by European powers. The British targeted Nigeria because of its resources. The British wanted products like palm oil and palm kernel and export trade in tin, cotton, cocoa, groundnuts, palm oil and so on (Graham, 2009). The British accomplished the colonization by using its military. Although there was strong resistance from natives against the British, it was all crushed by the British. As a result, the trading post at the Niger River is created and the British economic rule is maintained over the colonies, exploiting Nigerians (Graham, 2009).
After the British conquest of northern and southern Nigeria and the merging of the two to establish Nigerian colonies and protectorate, the British seeks the best interests between direct rule and indirect rule. They will not hesitate to use the means of direct rule if they think that indirect rule cannot guarantee their colonial status. The divide and rule policy is always adopted by the British over the colonization of Nigeria. The consequences of the colonization consist of many parts. Politically, slavery was abolished. Economically, the tax system and transportation system deepened the British’s plunder and control over the economy in Nigeria. Culturally, the British controlled the religious culture in Nigeria through training a group of local people to spread Christianity in Nigeria, opening missionary schools, and other ways.
“Nigeria was granted independence on October 1, 1960 but the journey to achieving the right to self-government started seven years before when Anthony Enahoro moved the motion for self-governance in the British-led parliament in 1953. […] Foremost Nigerians like Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Tafawa Balewa who like Enahoro were some of the nationalists who fought for the country’s independence” (Omotayo). They were trying their best to convince their colonial Britain of the need for independence but prove and the capability of self-governance. They had to use their knowledge to prove this by presentation at the parliament and with solid logic. On the other hand, British need to consider the gain and loss from the Nigeria since British is under a turbulent era: Nazism in Europe was over, but Communism and the Soviet Union was increasingly powerful (America also). The available resources were limited, so it’s necessary for British to balance the risking of losing their power in the world.
Katie Graham. (2009). “Nigeria: Colonization”. Retrieved from “https://hj2009per6nigeria.weebly.com/colonization.html”.
Omotayo Yusuf. (2017). “How Nigeria got its independence”. Legit. Retrieved from “https://www.legit.ng/1044956-four-nigerians-fought-britain-seven-years-won-pictured.html”.