This essay argues that waste—as a symbol, a trope, and a material condition—permits us to reimagine the link between post-independence novels of disillusionment and contemporary works preoccupied with the tenuousness of national prosperity and identity. From Kofi Awoonor's This Earth, My Brother (1971) and Ayi Kwei Armah's The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968) to Chimamanda Adichie's Half a Yellow Sun (2006) and Zeze Gamboa's recent film O Heroi (2004), waste is not merely an aesthetic oddity joining together these selected texts. Transforming literary representations of waste reflect a revaluation of our received notions of nationhood, the distribution of wealth and value in society, the aims of political liberation, and the legitimate means of political engagement. I argue that waste has become an ambiguous symbol of both the uncertainty resulting from national and social disintegration and the possibility of forming renewed social bonds.


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pp. 51-68
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