Contextualising Identity in Buchi Emecheta’s Kehinde and Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah


  • Ijeoma Ann Ngwaba Federal University Oye-Ekiti



contextualising identity, racism, diaspora, otherness, immigrants


Recent critical discourse on identity by most writers is geared towards identity negotiation. The reiterations of narratives on identity as a result of racism is suitable to refer to Jacque Derrida’s term, the hauntological as McCorkle suggests, in which “the thing that represents the demise of something also signals its continuation in a different form” (as cited in McCorkle, 2016). Slavery and racism necessitates the quest for identity in most areas affected by such experience. Most Diasporan writers often examine identity, ‘Otherness’, displacement, exile and dislocation which has also become the recurring themes in their literary works. This article is a comparative study on the quest for identity in Buchi Emecheta’s Kehinde (1994) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2013) and the inherent racism that pervades the entire London and American system. The literary works discuss the complex political and racial framework that has continued to support discrimination that most people of colour face. Thus they chronicle and deconstruct the inherent racism as a result of their quest for identity in a foreign land. Both authors write as a result of the recurring experience during their time which is obviously similar. The paper contends that Adichie’s Americanah focuses on racial concerns on African immigrants while showcasing the protagonist’s blog as an instrument of voice as regards the issue of identity. It further reiterates Kehinde’s efforts in succeeding in London against all odds. The article concludes that African immigrants affirm, and define their identity while reclaiming a space for themselves in the migrant culture.

Author Biography

Ijeoma Ann Ngwaba, Federal University Oye-Ekiti

English and Literary Studies


Acholonu, C. (1995). Motherism: The Afro-Centric Alternative to Feminism (16-27). Owerri: Afa Publishers.

Adichie, C. (2013). Americanah. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Adichie, C. (2007). Purple Hibiscus. Lagos: Farafina.

Akoma, C. (2000). Oral Tradition in Toni Morrison’s Paradise. Loyola University Journal, 15 (1), 3-25.

Butler, J. (2006). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge Classics.

Chukwuma, H. (1982). “Positivism and the Female Crisis: The Novels of Buchi Emecheta”. In H. Otokunefor and O. Nwodo (Eds.) Nigerian Female Writers (pp. 2-18.). Lagos: Malthouse Press Ltd.

Davies, A. (1981). Women, Race and Class. New York: Random House.

Derrida, J. (1981). Positions. Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Emecheta, B. (1979). The Joys of Motherhood. London: Heinemann.

Emecheta, B. (1994). Kehinde. London: Heinemann

Irvin, N. (2005). Creating Black Americans: African-American History and its meanings, 1619 to the present. London: Oxford University Press.

Johes, D. (1996). New Trends and Generation. African Literature Today. 20 (1)-23.

Kolawole, M. E. (1997). Womanism and African Consciousness. Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World Press.

Kolawole, M.E. (1998). Gender Perceptions and Development in Africa. Lagos: Arabon Academic Publishers.

Kolawole, M.E. (1999). “Self-Representation and the Dynamics of Culture and Power in African Women’s Writing”. Journal of Cultural Studies (Gender and the Politics of Representation), 1(2), 1-16.

Kottiswara, W.S. (2008). Postmodern Feminist Writers New Dehli: Sarup & Sons.

Laoye, G. (1992). Feminists Perspectives in the novels of Alice Walker and Buchi Emecheta: A Comparative Study. PhD. Thesis. Dept. of English. University of Ibadan.

Lorber, J. & Moore, L.J. (2012). Gendered Bodies: Feminist Perspectives. 5th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Nadaswaran, S. (2012). “The legacy of Buchi Emecheta in Nigerian women’s Fiction”. International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, Vol. 2, No.2, pp. 146-150.

Nnaemeka, O. (1995). “Feminism, Rebellious Women and Cultural Boundaries: Rereading Flora Nwapa and Her Compatriots”. Research in African Literatures, Vol. 26, No.2 (Summer), pp. 80-113.

McCoy, S. (2017). The “Outsider Within”: counter narratives of the “New” African diaspora in Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah, 11 (3), 279-294.

McCorkle, James. (2016). “Narrating Memory: Rayda Jacobs, Yvette Christianse and Andre Brink and the New Slave Narrative”. Journal of African Literature, 10 (1), 18-31.

Ogundipe-Leslie, M. (1987). “The Female Writer and Her Commitment”. Women in African Literature Today, 15 (1), 5-13.

Ogundipe-Leslie, M. (1994). Recreating Ourselves: African Women and Critical Transformations. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

Ogunyemi, C. (2004). O. Africa Wo/Man Palava: The Nigerian Novel by Women. Chicago: UP.

Udumukwu, O. (2006). The Novel and Change in Africa. Port Harcourt: University of Port Harcourt Press.

Udumukwu, O. (2007). Signature of Women. Owerri: Onii Publishing House.