USING THE FEATURES OF ANY TWO TYPES OF THE NOVEL, ANALYSE LOLA AKANDE’S “WHERE ARE YOU FROM”

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Welcome, Oyeniyi Moses Emmanuel compiled this from different source for a read through and a better preparation for year 1 student to know how to go about their Assignment

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much… Helen Keller

 

WHAT THE ASSIGNMENT IS SAYING IN ESSENCE :

The assignment is telling you to look under what two types of Novel it can be categorized under, it’s now left to you to pick two (2) that you suppose you’d do well in explaining. Do not do the mistake of just summarizing the whole Novel as this will earn you a lesser mark but instead,  pick a particular type of novel you feel it relate to then analyze it as relate to the definition and the features (A Bildungsroman Novel will always start for stage of Naivety, when the character still believes thing are the way seems or as straight as they should be, state of transitio, which is the conflict and also realization, at the point he gets to see life the way it is) of such type of Novel, I mean, if it’s Sociological Novel, all you want to do is talk about how it affect societal happening as exemplified below and equally grant it a soothing conclusion before you then move to the next type with new heading (as seen below).

Also, don’t forget you’re writing it in an essay-like style, you must introduce well, then your body and Conclusion. Another thing to be considered is what types does the novel fall? It Falls under SociologicalBuldungroman Psychological but personally I suppose you should stay with the first two, but if you feel you could  analyse from the very many thoughts of the main character, “Stream of Consciousness” then it’s all yours, have it.

Lola Akande’s Where Are You From? Is widely acclaimed by critics who acknowledge the fact that she has lived up to her description as an author who does not write to earn cheap popularity but to seriously address national problems.
Indeed, Lola Akande’s Where Are You From? Is a beautiful literary piece that doesn’t just highlight Nigeria’s defects but also raises important questions in the mind of the reader.

The story revolves around Anjola Adeniyi, an exuberant, optimistic, innocent and naïve young lady. She graduates from the university with the hope of securing a job upon completion of her National Youth Service. Naïve Anjola who knew nothing about the real world, faces obstacles in which in her entire life never thought could hinder her progress. As the novel progresses, Anjola is further acquainted with reality and unable to bear the brunt of reality, resolves to take her life but a story told to her by an old friend dissuades her from doing so and motivates her. She decides to channel her energy into something she has passion for, influencing positively on the community while doing it.

On a close examination, one would discover that Akande’s Where Are You From? Is a sociological and bildungsroman novel as it adequately embodies their salient features. The novel which focuses on the psychological and moral development of the protagonist Anjola Adeniyi captures the problems faced in the Nigerian society among which includes questionable indigenization policies, ethnic antagonism, political instability, Godfatherism, corruption, etc. Lola Akande probes some deeper truth about society by immensely dramatizing the effects of those problems on the protagonist Anjola Adeniyi.


Lola Akande’s Where Are You From? As A Sociological Novel

As a sociological novel, one major sociological problem is that of Tribalism. The theme of Tribalism is so deep that it is a major cause of many negative events in Anjola, the protagonist life. More specifically, the reason for her unemployment. After the completion of her NYSC, Anjola’s quest for a job began like every other youth in her place. Failure to secure a job in her home state Kwara ,makes her move to Kaduna at Ify’s encouragement. On getting to Kaduna, she is advised by Ify to change her name to an Hausa name and also her state citizenship, so as to secure a job fast and Anjola, a stubborn one, refuses to budge to this advice. On getting to the job interview, she realises that Ify was right all along and she is rejected as she is not seen as a pure Northerner due to her state of origin Kwara. She then decides to change her name ,but her efforts was still futile as she was caught by the interviewers and ridiculed. Her tribal marks gave her away!. Her second try in the south west was a fruitless as the first. She was shunned because she was not considered “Yoruba” enough, despite having a Yoruba name. Even in her own state of origin Kwara, she is advised to change her her local government as she was not from Kwara central and so a job could not be allocated to her. This events portray how tribalism has cut deep in the society.

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In a country, where indigenization, nepotism, tribalism and ethnicity thrive, Lola Akande’s Where Are You From? questions the true meaning of federalism in Nigeria.

Anjola Adeniyi is denied jobs in northern Nigeria, western Nigeria and subsequently in her state. She is always confronted with the question where are you from? As her response to the question, determines her fate. We seem to be a having a big problem in our hands in this country. Everybody is faced with the question of where we come from. How we are treated or mistreated depends on where you come from or where you fail to come from.
“You call me an alien in my own country”
Are the exact words of Anjola Adeniyi to the official in charge of examining the documents for her interview at Oyo State. The official having gone through her certificate of origin, calls her an alien, and makes it clear that aliens aren’t qualified for the interview. One of the applicants after observing Anjola’s squabble with the official, approaches her, tells her a story of his aunt’s ordeal and declares
“It’s a national problem. The country needs help”. 
Indeed, the country needs help. Many innovative, exuberant and smart individuals are constantly denied opportunities to prove themselves due to questionable indigenization policies, ethnocentrism, and nepotism. Although it may be well argued that there is nothing wrong with ethnicity, the problem is we use it wrongly.

In a country with over 200 ethnic groups, cultural integration should be encouraged and practiced but sadly, reverse is the case. Anjola right from the beginning of the novel novel to its end wants to contribute immensely to society, but society constantly denies her.

Furthermore, Akande’s Where Are You From? as a sociological novel, doesn’t just
highlight the problems bugging the Nigerian society, but also highlights a few
causes of these problems. Going through the novel, one would notice that misconceptions about an ethnic group, ethnocentric behaviour, endogamy and Godfatherism in politics, slow down cultural integration and political development in Nigeria. Cajethan, Anjola’s husband’s brother, sees Yoruba people as stubborn and insists that their stubbornness has no remedy. Dayo, Anjola’s brothers sees the Igbos as rude and uncultured as he having had an unpleasant encounter with an Igbo man in Lagos State has accorded that stereotype to them. Uncle Gboyega Anjola’s Uncle sees the Igbos as an inferior tribe, and “Yanminrin” a derogatory name ascribed to the Igbos which means “give me water” in Ibo language thus suggesting the Igbo people as beggars. Gboyega declares that Athena, Anjola’s daughter can never be one of them. These misconceptions do not end at the inter tribe level, even among the same ethnic group, there exists certain misconceptions.

Anjola’s husband’s mother, sees the Mbaise clan as wicked. Henry, Anjola’s colleague during her National Youth Service, sees the Enugu people as superior to the Anambra people. Speaking on endogamy, Anjola’s husband’s mother requires her children to marry from their tribe, and she goes extra mile at times to ensure her will is carried out. These various misconceptions, ethnocentric behavior and endogamy are part of defects in the Nigerian society that slow down cultural integration and ethnic unity. It works like a vicious cycle as misconceptions about a tribe lead to feelings of superiority over that tribe (ethnocentrism) and issues with inter-ethnic marriage. On the issue of Godfatherism,Akande gives an insight on the true state of politics in Nigeria. The politics practiced in Nigeria is now Godfatherism: money and the strong backing of a Godfather is the only guarantees of success in an election. Thus, the innovative, exuberant but not financially stable youths, who having experienced the problems in society and are willing to curb these problems, are denied the opportunity to do so. Anjola Adeniyi, represents these set of youths.

Something worthy of note in Akande’s Where are you from? Is that not only did
she address the problems and causes of those problems faced by young adults in
the Nigerian society, she also points out the results of these problems; suicide
being one of them. Nigeria ranks 5th in a list compiled by the World Health
Organization (WHO) on countries with high suicide rates. According to the World
Health Organization, 15000/100000 Nigerian commit suicide yearly. Studies have shown depression to be the major cause of suicide. Anjola, after, recalling past and presents events in her life, becomes overwhelmed with confusion, slid into depression, and ultimately resolves to take her life. Lola Akande’s use of reminiscing technique in the buildup to Anjola’s depression, and impending suicide, sends a message to the Nigerian society that society plays a vital role in
the build up to one’s depression. It is not uncommon in Nigeria for one to insult and lay false accusations at person(s) they don’t like or simply because they don’t
meet your expectation(s) – Uncle Cajethan being a clear example. Anjola reminiscing the hurtful words of Uncle Cajethan before her resolve to commit suicide, is not merely to produce dramatic effect, but also address individuals, whose malicious words or acts, have. Not only does Anjola reminisce the words of Uncle Cajethan, she recalls how optimistic she was on the prospect of getting a job in Kwara state. The thought of still being unemployed after all her efforts, she finds disconcerting.

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Finally, as a sociological novel, Akande’s Where Are You From? Comments critically on society defects. Though she doesn’t proffer a solution to these defects
in society, anyone who goes through the novel would surely question his or her
role they play in creating these problems and think of ways to solve those problem.
Akande asserts that there is a way forward and various ethnic groups can work
together towards achieving certain goals as seen in efforts put in by Ify who is of
the Igbo tribe, Anjola who represents the Yorubas, and Abdullahi who represents
the Hausas in the set up of the free tutorial center in Maaji Ngeri community. Indeed Anjola lives in a world of fantasy.

Lola Akande’s Where Are You From? As A Bildungsroman Novel

Anjola Adeniyi the protagonist in Lola Akande’s Where Are You From? is a sensitive person who looks for answers to her questions through different experiences. The novel takes us on a journey through Anjola’s life from a young lady to an adult and mother. Anjola though is filled with youthful exuberance and optimism is naive. She sees the world from a whole different perspective that totally is in contrast with the real world. At 21 she already had her life planned out. A graduate of the University of Ilorin with a B.A in English, she is certain of getting a job upon completion of her national youth service her eyes set in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She imagines herself rising to the position of ambassador; she will travel the world, learn new things and ultimately marry a handsome Newscaster Bolaji Badejo.
” I will possess the world”

This she always told herself. She never felt any issue at that moment could hinder her progress even the incessant change of government. Indeed, Anjola lives in a world of Fantasy Dr Agbebi, her friend and former project supervisor aware of Anjola’s naivety and innocence, describes the real world to her and advices her on how to handle herselfout there. He states:

the world celebrates hypocrisy and falsehood.it is a dishonest and pretentiousworld you are going into, which means you have to be on guard at time. It is also acruel world, no one sympathizes with the weak, the vulnerable and the foolish”

Anjola although is bothered by these words, she doesn’t really understand their true meaning.

Anjola’s psychological growth, is slow but steady. Her development from naivety to experience, comes with anguish and difficulty. With Dr. Agbebi’s advice, havinglittle effects, Anjola advances into society with honesty and innocence. She beginsher journey towards the actualization of her dreams. Life deals her the first blow, when she is falsely accused of theft, and made to pay for a crime she did not commit. This event saddens her at first but she decides to move on, and avoid negative energy. She gets into a relationship with Cyprian during her National Youth Service. She was in a quest for true love, and she wanted to enjoy the thrill of sex as the first time she had sex was of unpleasant memories. Her relationship with Cyprian ended after a little disagreement.

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Anjola upon completion of her NYSC program, receives a letter from her father informing her of her cousin’s death, and the embargo placed on employment by the new military government. The incessant change of government which she thought couldn’t affect her had justdid. Her cousin, she hoped to wow with her stories, and impress with her success so far had just died. Anjola devasted and without hope of securing a job, returns to Ilorin from Anambra. Frustrated over her unemployed state, she decides to try other ventures. She decides to try teaching a thing she has passion for but after six months of service without pay, she quits. Anjola now jobless an subject of gossips and ridicule, tries a romantic relationship with Deinde Komolafe a pediatrician so as to keep her busy. Deinde her boyfriend although spends lavishly on her, he abusive, controlling, and lacked remorse. He breaks-up with Anjola aftershe helps a poor beggar boy. Now with nothing to do, Anjola decides to travel to Kaduna after Ifeanyi or Ify convinces her to come meet him.

Anjola had met Ify onher way to Anambra state for her youth service. He is friendly and handsome. He had earlier asked Anjola to marry him but she had refused then on account of their ethnic difference. At, Kaduna, she also tries to secure a job, but fails once again. Anjola who now seemed to failure at everything, decided to give marriage a chance as she had fallen in love with him. After years of marriage, trouble in form of Uncle Cajethan Angola’s brother-in-law comes for her again. She fails to maintain a stable relationship with him in Kaduna, and at a point had to travel backto Kwara State to try get a jon after being accused by Cajethan of being a lay about.

At Kwara State, her efforts to get a job is futile once again. Anjola who always had the zeal to work for government and serve the people, decides to go into politics but due to the politics now practiced in Nigeria know as Godfatherism,she is forced to go see a Godfather. Anjola wants to become a member of the houseof assemble. After explaining her intention to the Godfather known as baba, he humiliates her, calls her a daughter of a nobody, and a bloody idiot. Anjola now frustrated and unable to receive life’s punches again, decides to end that pain by taking her life. Fortunately for her, she meets Kolade a old friend of Deinde’s and also her friend. He narrates the story of a woman who died but had wanted to live for her children to her. Anjola at this point is motivated by this story, and decides against ending her life, and channels her experience and energy into community service.

It is important to note that at every point in Anjola’s life, her naivety got the better of her. She never had a contingency plan in events her quest for a job goes south upon the completion of her NYSC program. She initially refused to follow Ify’s advice to use counterfeit documents at her job interview believing she could get a job anywhere in Nigeria. She ignores Ify’s advice, and agreed to have made the statement “I hope there is no problem” at her hearing at the Zelachi Women Association. She also ignores her father’s advice when he asks her to tread carefully into politics. These consequences of those decisions she makes are severeas they cause her pain, disorganizes her, but the good part is that she learns important her important life lessons.

In conclusion, keeping in character with the style of Bildungsroman novels, Anjola’s trials are for the better, which is more than can be said of those who pass through the same travails. Anjola takes her experiences and becomes a better person in spite or perhaps, because of them.
Where are you from, is beautifully written covering many aspects of the society, touching pressing issues, touching the soul of the readers and teaches many life lessons.

 

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