DISILLUSIONMENT AND SURVIVAL IN AFRICAN MIGRATION LITERATURE: A STUDY OF OKEY NDIBE’S FOREIGN GODS, INC. AND UNOMA AZUAH’S EDIBLE BONES.

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ABSTRACT

The phenomenon of human migration, as Marie McAuliffe and Marfin Ruhs (2017) agrees, “stretches back to the earliest periods of human history” (1). Human migration in the modern world has been massively enhanced by the ease of mobility due to the massive advancements in transport technology. People tend to migrate from one part of the globe to another where they hope to achieve better socio-economic life, or where they can be free from persecution and conscription. The compelling phenomenon of migration have found expression in African literature of the past and the present. This thesis analyses the experiences of African migrant characters in Okey Ndibe’s Foreign Gods, Inc. and Unoma Azuah’s Edible Bones. The disillusionment of the migrant characters as well as their strategies of survival forms the main stay of the study. Drawing on the conceptual framework of the new African diaspora, this study focuses on the diasporic experiences of what Ali Mazrui (2001) calls “the diaspora of colonialism”, Africans who voluntarily migrate to the United States of America. The study shows that creative writers do provide important insights into the conditions of African migrants in the West. From the analysis in this study, one realizes that the issues of unemployment, racism and the difficulty of acquiring legal documents to live and work in the United States stand out as part of the major causes of disillusionment among African immigrants. Both writers present return migration as a better option than chasing after an American dream of success which, like a mirage, is endlessly shifting

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

The phenomenon of human migration, as Marie McAuliffe and Marfin Ruhs (2017) agree, “stretches back to the earliest periods of human history” (1). Life in the modern world is characterized by rapid mobility due to the massive advancements in transport technology. People tend to migrate from one part of the globe to another where they hope to achieve better socio- economic life, or where they can be free from persecution and conscription. According to the World Migration Report (2018), 3.3% of the world’s population were migrants in 2015. As stated in the report, the two hundred and forty four (244) million migrants around the world are mostly found in Europe, North America and Asia. Stephen Castles and Mark J. Miller (1993) posit that it “seems fitting to predict that the closing years of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first will be an age of age of migration” (3).

This, indeed, is evident in the prominence the subject of migration receives in world affairs; news, politics, the economy and literature. The mass movement of people from Syria and Africa towards Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, and the movement of people from South American nations towards prosperous North American nations such as the United States of America and Canada has led to politically-charged debates about the building of walls to keep irregular migrants out of the United States and Europe. On the African scene, the issue of migration is a present and prominent matter. This is because, African people; mostly young ones from Sub-Saharan Africa, are on their way out of the continent. While some persist at their attempt to travel through the regular routes, others seek to go to Europe and sometimes Israel by going across the Mediterranean Sea and the

Sinai Peninsula, respectively. Most of these African migrants embark on their journey with the hope of fleeing conscription and economic hardships. In October, 2013, the world was shocked by the death of three hundred and sixty-six (366) African migrants close to the Italian Island of Lampedusa. Only a few African migrants survived this tragedy.