The Figure of the “Been-to” in Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease (1960), Ayi Kwei Armah’s Fragments (1969) and Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North (1969).
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This dissertation has dealt with the traumatic experiences and problems that have been faced by the African intellectuals during the post-independent era. Many African literary works reflect the state of disorder and confusion into which the “been-to” returners were submerged as it is the case of Obi in Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease (1960), Baako in Ayi Kwei Armah’s Fragments (1969) and Mustafa Sa’eed along with the unnamed narrator in Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North (1969). Using Bhabha’s theory “Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse” (1994), we have tried to study some of the common themes that are cultural clash, alienation and isolation and finally identity that lie between the three novels. The novels are written by three distinct authors belonging to three different cultures. Yet, these novels expose nearly the same social and cultural dilemmas that those African “been-tos” have gone through after their return home. Achebe’s, Armah’s and Salih’s novels are lucid portraits of the Africans’ daily life in neo-colonial Africa. These writers portray the “been-tos” as alienated individuals whose life turn into a real nightmare due to their Western acquired education and to the social changes that occurred in neocolonial Africa. Abroad, the “been-tos” intensively mimic the white man that they come to forget about their cultural heritage and their well rooted communal values and they start to adopt that of the western man. As a matter of fact, on their return home, the “been-tos” face problems of social and cultural reintegration because they are not able to defend any of these two opposing cultures that can never meet. By a close reading of the three novels and by making reference to Bhabha’s theory, we have tried to show that though they are written in three distinct countries by three different writers, the “been-tos” suffer from nearly the same problems: clash of cultures, alienation and identity crisis.
- Département d'Anglais