Tuesday, November 24, 2020

"If you had real houses back in Africa": Americans and Africa in a story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's story "The Thing Around Your Neck", one of the young Nigerian immigrant Akunna's first experiences with Americans is in conversations with the "girls" at the community college she attends: "They asked where you learned to speak English and if you had real houses back in Africa and if you'd seen a car before you came to America." For these young American women, Africa is not a vast continent with many countries and cultures but a single underdeveloped or even undeveloped entity without history whose people live primitively and whose local languages are unimportant compared to the colonial language that enables Akunna to communicate in the United States. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 24 November)

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