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ENGL 2Q99 Lecture Notes - Igbo Music, Institute For Operations Research And The Management Sciences, Mortified

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Shannon Mac Rae

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Wise 2Q99 Lecture 2
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
1977- she’s in her early 30’s
“The Danger of a Single Story” TED talk
- TED talks is public lectures on diverse issues … in 2009 Adichie gave one of
these lectures called ‘danger of a single story’ regarding the dangers of only
hearing one side of the story/history
- She started writing about her own people because she was so used to
reading about white European peoples, that she didn't think ‘her kind of
people’ could even exist in literature
- However, she still liked the ‘white people’ stories, because they opened up
her imagination and opened her up to other/new worlds
- Her talk stated that someone cannot be defined by simply one story, or one
attribute such as “poor”
- When she went to college, her roommate had only heard one story of
African people, and then she placed all Africans under this one ‘story’
- Cannot classify all peoples, all nations, or all societies under one ‘bubble’
everyone has their own story
"At once the portrait of a country and a family, of terrible choices and the
tremulous pleasure of an odd, rare purple hibiscus blooming amid a
conforming sea of red ones" San Francisco Chronicle
Purple Hibiscus
Major themeNigeria as a post-colonial society
- informs everything that is going on in the book
- one level: story of a young woman coming of age, seeing two very different
- 2nd level: story of a country in the period of a transition
Igbo people10th century
- Protagonist comes from the Igbo people

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- Culture long established within Nigeria, but we don’t get a full sense of in
this novel
Igbos lose control when British begin to colonize in 18th century
- As Britain becomes colonial power, the area that will become Nigeria is one
that is forever changed a culture that has existed from the 10th century and
is all of the sudden changed
Nigeria as part of slave trade
- There were often individuals in these countries that would round up others
from other tribes or their own tribes and sell them
- Papa Eugene participates in the colonialism … Papa loses controls when
Nigeria becomes its own nation His company produces colonial products
(Wafer cookies, etc)
Nigeria gains independence only in 1960
From 1960-1999 coups, military juntas, tribalism, conflict between
Christians and Muslims
- People are attempting to grab power and wrestle power a lot of this
happening among tribes
- Continual state of transition
- A lot of people say “The Africans” are half demon, half child and have no
idea how to run their country and this is why military issues are occurring …
except when you think back you have a country that is strong during the
moments of slavery
- Our sense is in the West, and many people refer to Africa as a country and
its own nation due to ‘single stories’
- Talks about the families power struggle and issues, while having the back
drop of the colonies power struggles … the culture struggles are embedded in
the family’s issue
Papa Eugene as ultimate colonial citizen
- He is enormously wealthy
- his company produces American products (Wafer cookies-practicing
- He is able to go undercover and change himself to fit with the colonial
- Even though the novel is at a specific time, his behaviour is consistent
- Papa Eugene is complicit
Rejection of Papa Nnukwu
- Papa Nnukwu represents Nigeria post colonialism (traditionalist) while
papa Eugene represents colonialism
- Eugene choses to love his religion more then he loves his own father… felt
like he had to choose
Colonial drama plays out at home, where Papa Eugene operates as colonizer
- Eugene rules his household, questions himself, feels badly about what he
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