NATIONALISM, SUBVERSIVE HISTORY AND CITIZENSHIP: THE QUEST FOR IDENTITY IN THE POSTCOLONIAL NATION IN M.G. VASSANJI’S THE IN-BETWEEN WORLD OF VIKRAM LALL

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DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1344/AFLC2020.10.4

Resum

One must write for one’s age, so says Sartre, arguing that the writer needs to go beyond a passive reflection of his/her age to want to maintain it or change it (1988: 243). But there is no such thing as a passive reflection where history is concerned and the need for constant questioning of held or handed down beliefs, as propagated by the postmodern approaches, re-situates the writer and his/her audience into newer and more dynamic definitions of and reflections on that age. This paper, by looking at M. G. Vassanji’s kaleidoscopic constellation of characters, an other way to look at Kenya’s history around those defining moments of the struggle for independence and thereafter in his novel The In-Between World of Vikram Lall (2005), seeks to discuss the notions of identity and especially how it is informed by nationalist movements. Vassanji, in all his books, has consistently attempted to situate the often-ignored Afro-Asian within the often ethnocentric African history. In this text, this attempt is placed within the backdrop of several histories and as such it reflects, not passively, but actively and questioningly and at certain points even subversively on what it means to be Kenyan.

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2021-01-03