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Anxious Mobilities in Accra and Beyond

Making Modern African Subjects in Ama Ata Aidoo’s Changes: A Love Story

Anna-Leena Toivanen

Abstract

In Aidoo’s Changes: A Love Story (1991), the characters are constantly on the move: tropes of mobility recur throughout the novel. Cars, hotels, business and leisure travel, modern technologies and the figure of what can be referred to as the Afropolitan avant la lettre play a pivotal role in embodying meanings that pertain to class, gender, globalization, and consumerism marking the postcolonial African condition, and give the novel an articulate contemporary character. This article adopts a wholesale understanding of mobility in order to explore the ways in which Aidoo’s characters employ different forms of mobility in their processes of self-fashioning as modern African subjects. The article draws attention to the anxiety that informs processes of self-fashioning among urban African elites, caught as they are between the tensions of the traditional and the modern.

Obari Gomba

Abstract

The Nigerian civil war has left a lasting impact on the politics of Nigeria. It has also provided material for I.N.C. Aniebo’s Rearguard Actions. Given the prior success of his novel The Anonymity of Sacrifice, this collection of short stories expands his creative portfolio on the subject of war. Over and above the predilection of Biafran discourse for blaming others for Biafra’s failure, Aniebo’s depiction of the war calls attention to the failings of Biafra itself. On the strength of Aniebo’s stories, this paper seeks to examine the nature of the abuse of power in Biafra and to show how such abuse helped precipitate the collapse of the breakaway nation-state.

Changing Conceptions of Masculinity in the Marital Landscape of Africa

A Study of Ama Ata Aidoo’s Changes and Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood

Nii Okain Teiko

Abstract

Recent critical studies of men have focused on multiple masculinities and the need for a change in theorizing the hegemonic constructions of gender. This growing body of scholarship has influenced literary studies, particularly in the readings of male characters as presented in literary works. The portraiture of the male characters in Aidoo’s Changes and Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood has attracted the attention of critics who examine the conflicted hegemonic constructions of masculinity mediated by the powerful forces of colonialism and modernity. These critics contest the patriarchal privileges of masculinity and redefine the gender constructions of both sexes to reflect current studies which focus on the plurality, fluidity, and complexities of masculine roles. This paper argues that Aidoo and Emecheta’s novels depict a hybridism of masculinities, in the context of marriage, in which both the male and the female characters strive to maintain a balance between their traditional African roles as husbands/wives, fathers/mothers and maintain an imitated eurocentric display of love and affection in enacting their roles in the marital enterprise.

Abba A. Abba

Abstract

Christopher Okigbo conveyed in his poetry the sense of patriotism and personal anguish at the monstrosity of a benighted nation. Some critics have argued that Okigbo was not only obsessive in his depictions of metaphors that incarnated the recurring trope of death, but also embodied a death wish culminating in his death in the Nigeria–Biafra war. They further argue that he embodied a suicidal impulse that motivated his general conduct and death in that battle. Unfortunately, only a handful of scholars have sought to contest this view and to illuminate Okigbo’s self-immolation in the name of a higher duty. To be sure, suicide and martyrdom may go beyond the question of dying to the problem of laying one’s death dramatically at someone else’s door. Following Kant’s theory of the ethical act, this paper undertakes a critical intervention that reappraises some of Okigbo’s poetry as well as documented accounts of his life in order to identify him appropriately: is he a genuine martyr or a mere suicide who presides ritually over his own dismemberment, or both? Examining lines of his poetry that have been misread as embodying his ‘haunting’ death-wish, on the one hand, and evidence of his self-giving impulse, on the other, the paper seeks to articulate how Okigbo as a tragic poet transcends his destiny by submitting to it—victor and victim at once. In its conclusion, the paper reconciles Okigbo’s will to heroic action with the symbolic meaning that is locked in his poetry in order to justify his ascension to the rank of martyr.

Citizen Journalism and Conflict Transformation

The Ushahidi’s Response to Kenya’s 2008 Post-Election Violence

Toyin Ajao and Cori Wielenga

Abstract

The ubiquitous Internet platform in Africa has given rise to a new set of non-state actors responding to protracted conflicts through the use of new media technology. As a departure from a state-centric approach to addressing conflict in Africa, this interdisciplinary study explores the contribution of the public in responding to armed conflicts through citizen journalism. To unearth non-violent African digital innovations, this research explored the Ushahidi platform, which emerged as a response to Kenya’s 2008 post-election violence. Using a qualitative method, data was gathered through unstructured in-depth interviews. The data was analysed using thematic analysis. The data showed the transformative role the Ushahidi platform played during Kenya’s electoral violence through crisis-mapping, the early warning multi-agent consortium, a constitutional referendum, and election monitoring. Evidence also emerged regarding the pioneer work of Ushahidi in other non-violent technological involvements in addressing crisis in Kenya.

Creativity and the Burden of Thoughts

Deconstructing Melancholia in Wumi Raji’s Rolling Dreams

Stephen Kekeghe

Abstract

The art of creative expression is a mentally tasking endeavour which requires intense probing of the creator’s inward states. Since writers create in solitude and and engage in dialogic strategies in shaping their imagery, they manifest ‘normal’ neurotic episodes, which are privileged as markers of artistic genius. Despair has thus been acknowledged as a significant feature of the creative imagination. Many writers script out their distressed moods, a paradoxical catharsis, in artistic mentation, that has become a major issue in contemporary studies of scriptotherapy, especially in Europe and North America. Studies of psychotherapy have revealed that the art of re-creating agonizing experiences brings mental restoration to the writer. Due to the emotional commitment and spontaneity required, poetry is clearly a convenient literary genre for the exploration of despondency and melancholic depression. However, this subject of poetry therapy has not been given adequate attention in Nigerian literary scholarship. The present study attempts an exemplary ‘poetic-diagnosis’ of melancholia in Wumi Raji’s Rolling Dreams. The article relies on psychoanalysis, a theory of the mind, deployed for the analysis of the abject imagery of the poems, and on deconstructionist theory, for autonomous and polysemous investigation of the melancholic poetic canvas of the collection.

Electoral Music Reception

A Meta-Analysis of Electorate Surveys in the Nigerian States of Lagos and Bayelsa

Garhe Osiebe

Abstract

Audiences in Africa are a grossly under-researched demographic. This paper centres on the comparative analysis of two electoral audience-based surveys conducted between April and September 2012 in the Nigerian states of Bayelsa and Lagos; following the April 2011 presidential election in Nigeria that ushered the erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan into power. The surveys sought to know the electorates’ reaction to the electoral campaign songs that endorsed Jonathan and how these songs informed their choice of candidate. The paper’s analysis combines an appreciation of the surveys’ results and the surveys’ procedure while focusing on the middle-ground between aesthetics and politics in the context.

Maurice Taonezvi Vambe

Abstract

Recent surges and advances in the popular use of electronic technology such as Internet, email, iPad, iPhone, and touch-screens in Africa have opened up great communicative possibilities among ordinary people whose voices were previously marginalized in traditional elitist media. People far apart geographically and living in different times can communicate rapidly and with great ease. This technological revolution has challenged and broken down boundaries of dependence on television, newspapers, and novels, the traditional forms of communication. It is now possible to upload a novel onto an iPad and read it as one moves from place to place. The burden of carrying hard copies is relieved but not eradicated; in most African countries, including Zimbabwe (the centre of focus in the present article), the creative work of art or hard copy of a novel is still relied upon as source of information. There are creative, experimental innovations in the novel form in Zimbabwe which to some extent can justify one’s speaking of a hypertextual novel. This new type of novel incorporates multiple narratives, and sometimes deliberately uses genres such as the email form as a constitutive narrative style that confirms as well as destabilizes previous assumptions of single coherent stories told from one point of view. Using the concepts of hypertextuality, intertextuality, and Bakhtin’s notions of carnivalesque and heteroglossia in speech and written utterances, this article reconsiders the implications of the presence of ideologies of hypertextuality in one novel from Zimbabwe, Nyaradzo Mtizira’s The Chimurenga Protocol (2008). The article argues that the multiplicity of narratives constitutes the hypertextual dimension of the novelistic form.

Ignatius Chukwumah and Cassandra Ifeoma Nebeife

Abstract

Sociopolitical phenomena such as corruption, political instability, (domestic) violence, cultural fragmentation, and the Nigerian Civil War (1967–1970) have been central themes of Nigerian narratives. Important as these are, they tend to touch on the periphery of the major issue at stake, which is the vector of persecution underlying the Nigerian tradition in general and in modern Igbo Nigerian narratives in particular, novels and short stories written in English which capture, wholly or in part, the Igbo cosmology and experience in their discursive formations. The present study of such modern Igbo Nigerian narratives as Okpewho’s The Last Duty (1976), Iyayi’s Heroes (1986), Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun (2007), and other novels and short stories applies René Girard’s theory of the pharmakos (Greek for scapegoat) to this background of persecution, particularly as it subtends the condition of the Igbo in postcolonial Nigeria in the early years of independence.