This paper examines the construction of national commitment in third generation African literature through a comparative reading of Binyavanga Wainaina’s literary memoir, One Day I Will Write about this Place, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s I Do Not Come to You by Chance, and Yvonne Vera’s The Stone Virgins. In each text, the relationship between the individual and his or her nation of origin does not function in singular terms, reflecting the multiply-articulated imagined communities in which individual lives exist and the (re)doubled workings of filiation, affiliation, and disavowal at play in contemporary Africa. Like the nations that comprise the continent, then, the idea of the nation in the contemporary African literary work is both variable and shifting, responding to its immediate circumstances and demonstrating the potency of novel paradigms of belonging. Nationalism, like the nation, thus reflects a deep ambivalence that mobilizes multiple affiliations and, nevertheless, does not preclude belonging and commitment. Rather than dismissing the nation, Wainaina’s, Vera’s, and Nwaubani’s works present a new vision of nationhood and national belonging.


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pp. 73-97
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