Although I sympathized with all of Ifemulu and Obinze’s struggles as immigrants, it was the story of the hairdresser’s inability to visit her home country for her father’s funeral because she was illegal that made me tear up. I know of people (who doesn’t?) who are in her position.
For those of you living in the West legally already, for those like myself who have US Citizenships or British Passports or whatever, remember that you are truly blessed. I don’t care if your parents and your grandparents were Americans or if you can trace your lineage to Charlemagne; the fact that you have a scrap of paper that says you can leave and come back is the ultimate dream of many people living here.
It’s not that we don’t love our home countries. in fact, most prefer their country’s people, food, and culture to that of the West. It’s not even that we need the opportunity to do well. The opportunity is here, in Africa. It’s the chance. It’s the luxury of chance that we crave most from the West. The chance that one day you’ll be a multibillionaire like Steve Jobs, or the chance that your children will. It’s the chance that your son will be the next Kwasi Enin, or your daughter Oprah Winfrey’s successor.
We have opportunities here, in Africa, but the odds have never been in our favor. Not since colonization. Americanah makes the immigrants’ struggles, and their rewards clear to the reader in many ways.
- Obinze as a toilet cleaner
- Ifemulu before Curt
- Aunty Uju’s rough beginning in America