In this article, we will be discussing the analysis of My African China by Ifeoma Odinye; about the book, the plot summary, the themes, characters, style, diction, setting, point of view, literary devices, conflict and resolution, and a brief biography of Ifeoma Odinye
About the book
The book African China by Ifeoma Odinye is a literary piece that mainly covers the issue of human trafficking and the plight of Nigerian immigrants in China. Odinye, in this piece, uses the protagonist Izunna to give a vivid picture of how Nigerians who strive for a better future in a foreign land are made victims of abuse, and human and drug trafficking, amongst others.
The author presents the setting of the story using the famous city of Guangzhou, a city overly populated by Africans, mostly Nigerian Igbo traders, who sought to make Chinese money to better the lives of the people back home and theirs as well. The city is more African-dominated and mostly a jungle where survival was an everyday struggle. As such, the place seemed to be an African town in the country of China – hence the name African-China.
The author employs a narrative style, introducing characters as she vividly tells the story, using simple English. Although the writer employs a foreign language, she was able to use this to aid her setting as the Chinese language is a notable hint for the Chinese society in which the story was set.
The book begins with the exploits of the protagonist, Izunna, and proceeds with a conflict as the author introduces more characters. In conflict resolution, the protagonist at the peak of the conflict is being rescued by his friend Chinedu, and the story ends happily.
The novel opens with Izunna on a visit to Chinedu, his long friend, who sponsored his traveling to China to study in order to attain a greener pasture. There he meets Okwy and Obiano, who opted for him to stay over in Ama-Igbo as Chinedu hadn’t returned after a long wait. Izunna was astonished to see most Africans struggling and begging just to have their daily bread. He had thought coming over to China would have made life much easier and better for them.
Guangzhou, the chocolate city, has always been crowded with immigrants from Africa. A lot of commercial activities are sen. The streets are littered with malls, markets, roadside shops, electronics, clothing, shoes, and so many commercialized products. It is also called Chocolate Avenue and is probably where China’s largest population resides.
There he meets Cynthia, a good-looking young woman who was always out in the streets looking for jobs at odd hours. She was famous for dating strangers who came for one business or the other. Everyone in Ama-Igbo knew the story of Cynthia and her escapades with foreigners. Izunna eventually got himself hooked in her net. He began seeing his ambition, motivation, and enthusiasm crumbling before his very eyes.
Before Izunna could realize he was being trafficked, it was rather too late for him. He only had come to visit his sponsor, and all these are happening. He experienced how the police officers frequently chase after immigrants that have no visas. How they are brutally handled. He wishes he hadn’t been misled and lured into coming to Ama- Igbo.
He remembers his mother’s plea against his coming to China and wished he had listened to her. But what could he have done? All he wanted was a better and more comfortable life for himself and his family.
Cynthia was the manipulator. Their games are to lure innocent immigrants to their web, Rob them of their visas and passports and use them as a tool for trafficking and extreme molestation. They engage in illegal businesses, prostitution, theft, and child trafficking. Izunna was trapped in a room and was being molested in turns.
The novelist Ifeoma Odinye employs the use of flashbacks in her plot arrangement.
She takes the readers back to the time before Izunna travels. How everyone was overjoyed at him leaving the shores of the country, at least they felt he would have a chance of having a better life, not only for himself but also for his immediate family and extended family at large. His father advises him not to engage himself in any nefarious activity he always heard others engage in abroad but should be focused and achieve his goal. Izunna had nothing different from what his father advised.
The novelist breaks the reader back to where she stopped before the flashback. Izunna becomes disillusioned at the present state he finds himself in. And he tries all he could to get himself off the hook, but all was to no avail.
The novel takes the reader back to when Izunna was in school at the Rennin University of China, how he does well in classroom activities and has been selected to get a scholarship in the school by Prof. Ji. But, it seemed all this was being dashed away at a twinkle of an eye just by a visit to Ama-Igbo. As it is said, there’s always help at the end of a tunnel. Help came as Izunna, fortunately, got to meet Chinedu. He helps him escape to the detriment of his is own life. Eventually, Izunna gets the scholarship. His hope wasn’t dashed after all.
The novel reveals the plight of some African immigrants. How some are lured to trafficking through a promise of having a better life, and also reveals the struggle for survival.
The quest to succeed in a foreign land
The novel, my African China by Ifeoma Odinye centres on the plight of youths who are of the belief that they can only succeed in a foreign land. The author drives home the idea of immigration, as most youths, especially in Nigeria, tends to leave the country in search of greener pasture. Due to the high rate of employment in their own country, they sought to leave to other countries with better economic conditions, not minding the harsh implications or struggles involved.
Odinye, in her book African China, portrays the theme of the quest to succeed in a foreign land as she introduces her characters and who had initially left their country Nigeria to China in search of greener pasture. These individuals, just like Izunna in the novel, leave for a foreign land with their hopes of success and big dreams. However, on getting to the foreign land, reality hits them so badly, as they struggle to survive less to engaging in all sorts of unpleasant and illegal activities, yet posing to have made it in their own country:
” I expected that coming over to China would make life easier for most Africans, but what is this? what is really happening? our brothers are begging here, yet they
post pictures that give a false impression about their condition….”
The African-China explores the lives of Africans, who, in an attempt to change their status, result in illegal and ridiculous activities, like human and drug trafficking, begging, robbery and prostitution as portrayed in the novel My African China. Odinye uses the character of Cynthia to generate a vivid picture of how women go into prostitution in order to make money. We see her sleeping around, which results in her having an illegitimate child. Also, the likes of Okechukwu, Obiano and other black guys at Ama-Igbo worked for rich Igbo men by selling products for them then kept the little proceeds realised from it; this means was known as oso afia (marketing other peoples goods for profit).
Most of the African immigrants had nowhere to live but still didn’t want to go back to their homes. They believed in the phrase “born in Naija” which was constantly used by the residents of Ama-Igbo to remind themselves that tough situations could be weathered at all times in any foreign land since they survived the hardship in Nigeria.
They do this because of the crippling society of Nigeria, thinking that the only way to have a greener pasture is to leave the shores of the country. They see it as an escape root from unemployment, starvation, and poor infrastructural facilities, and it is termed a dream come through if one is privileged to escape the discomfort and migrate to a foreign country. Odinye uses the protagonist Izunna and uses China as the object country for immigrants from Nigeria.
Izunna, who had left his education in Nigeria to study in China with the hope of making it big as he had heard the story of people who went to China and made it big, like his friend Chinedu. With that mindset, he leaves for China in a bid to elevate his family from the rope and chains of poverty. In page 73
“Izunna had quit his dream of studying in any Nigerian university for more opportunities in China. Although, he wanted to be wealthy and successful. Nevertheless, he wanted a clean source of wealth, devoid of illegal business or blood money.”
Unfortunately, the tables turn against Izunna, and he becomes a victim of human trafficking in the hands of his own brothers, from the same country, who as he is, striving to make it big in a foreign land. Izunna is abused sexually and forced into illegal activities. Although Izunna was a student, and at this point of the story, the author tries to inform the readers of the high rate of students who have left Nigeria to study in a foreign land, notwithstanding this status, some of these students, just like Izunna, sometimes tends to become a victim of human and drug trafficking.
In the quest to succeed in a foreign land, most male teenage migrants sell all they have back in their home town in search of better opportunities without really actualising their dreams, the same case for some female teenagers migrant who was deceived with the promises of being exposed to job opportunities that would yield enough money only to be trapped in the web of prostitution and trafficking (pg 14).
As a newly admitted student for the Master of Arts in Chinese Language and Culture, Izunna was always ready to gather information for his class presentation despite the bizarre atmosphere. He didn’t want any obstacle to strip him of his most intimate secret- the determination to succeed in China and with enthusiasm, he told himself to always be positive, even though he was later a victim of a bad situation, good triumphed at the end.
The Theme of Deceit
Izunna was tied in the web of Cynthia; he was deceived when he came to visit Chinedu by Cynthia and her cohorts. He reluctantly follows Obiano to Ama-Igbo, a place where some Nigerian immigrants reside. Unknown to him, he is being recruited into a notorious group. The place was like a den of thieves and robbers. He tried all he could to get away, but it seemed complicated and impossible. They made him believe that Chinedu brought him to China to be an accomplice of their notorious escapades.
Ifeoma Odinye uses her novel My African-China to discuss the issue of deceit, as individuals are being convinced of a much brighter hope in a foreign and then being lured into various illegal activities either by persuasion or forcefully.
The Theme of Trafficking
My African-China makes a statement about trafficking and trafficked persons. Jow people are lured on a promise of having a good life, only for them to travel and become sex workers, drug traffickers and the rest. Izunna’s fate has dealt with him with a sharp blow. in page 73
“Izunna wanted to avoid anything connected to the crime. His fate has been twisted as Asia, and Africa becomes emerging hubs for cocaine trafficking and consumption. To operate
effectively, many Chinese and African drug mules were in need of students with legal visas every year to recruit in their networks. Izunna was one of their victims.”
The city of Guangzhou seemed a place for drug abuse, prostitution, and salient elimination of different kinds. Izunnawas being molested while at Ama-Igbo. He is being beaten and confined to a secret room where they take turns in his molestation.
Izunna’s quest to succeed is to travel to China to be like his friend Chinedu. He never knew what his fate would become. It turned out that he became one of the victims of the traffic.
The Theme of Racial Discrimination
As of the time Izunna gt to China, he was surprised to see how some Chinese got irritated at his skin colour. He always got this expression from the Chinese “Nikan hei ren”, meaning looks at this black person. The expression his in fact, despondent and dexterous in puzzling black foreigners. This was challenging for him because he felt humiliated. He had to deliberately avoid moving around in the city because he would be castigated by the Chinese passers-by, who often touched his skin to ascertain his complexion. The words they used for blacks always reverberated them. Izunna felt this racial discrimination more as the only African in his class, and it made him always sit at the back, far from another student, to avoid unnecessary attention. They characterised every black person as African, not caring about the clear demarcation between the countries in Africa.
Theme of Trust
Everything that happened to Izunna at Guangzhou started with the issue of trust. Trusting those he shouldn’t have, trusting the wrong people; the likes of Obiano, whom Izunna helped with a little amount of money to buy mantou, who then in return wanted to show the same “kindness” by showing him where to sleep at Ama-Igbo. Kpokpo, Chinedu’s attendant who also assured him of Obiano’s good heart, which made Izunna believe Obiano the more. Cynthia, whom Obiano convinced Izunna of having a good heart and even himself for thinking his stay in Guangzhou would be fruitful to him after all he has heard about the place. If he hadn’t trusted Chinedu’s, he would have remained in Beijing, and the series of humiliation he passed through wouldn’t have happened to him. “It was also ridiculous that Izunna trusted strangers with his life. People who committed heinous crimes for money “(pg 139). If only he knew.
The rich and refined heritage of the Chinese heritage
In the book, China is seen as the commercial powerhouse, the centre for manufacturing different products and has a long tradition as a trading port. People from all over the world come to Guangzhou (China) to buy and sell different products, making it overly crowded. Regardless of the sea of foreigners that visit for tourism, business and job opportunities, Guangzhou is a very safe place to stay. The crowded nature of this business place had given the Chinese government great concern leading to severe surveillance (pg 13).
They are proud of their tradition; they are receptive and open-minded people. They are very honest people, as explained by Professor Hi to Izunna during their tour around the school. They have a refined way of worship by making reference to carved images, mostly dragons, even though it seemed absurd to Izunna.
Positive drive towards life
Izunna is the major character in this theme; he has always been showing a positive vibe towards life and wants to succeed no matter the circumstance. He is seen displaying this characteristic from the beginning of the novel where he sees a lot of “African guys hanging out in the streets like Agboros in Onitsha motor parks”.
“I’m going to survive! I will not be crushed here! Didn’t Chinedu’s survive? He is rich and very influential now. I, Izunna, will definitely survive! I will not be easily crushed when things are not working out well!” (pg 10)
Izunna also shows this positive nature in his words as he waits patiently for his friend Chinedu’s arrival. “I don’t need to be afraid!… I’ll be fine! I know everything will be okay!” (Pg 12)
He is the main character in the novel or the protagonist. He is from the village of Igbo-Ukwu, born to the family of Mr Muoneke and Mrs Afoma, with an uncle named Agiriga. He is from a strong Christian background and attends Anglican church; he spent most of his education in Nigeria, and with the help of his friend Chinedu, he gets a private scholarship to study at the famous Renmin University of China, Beijing.
One could say he has a strong determination to make his family proud and get them out of poverty. His determination moves him to achieve his goals, as he is hardworking. This is seen in the novel as after he has been deceived by tobiano and Cynthia, abused both mentally and sexually, he is still determined to make his family proud. He is a brilliant student (even professor Ji noticed it).
He gets a scholarship and a job from his University with the help of his friend Chinedu. Izunna is seen to be a reserved person; he rather talks to himself than to other people, just as in his conversations with Obiano pg 16 and 35
Izunna is a dedicated and steadfast Christian; he believes in God and always runs to him at every point.
Izunna overreacts to things around him, from his being impatient to wait for Chinedu’s at his office to the frivolous way he reacted when he entered the Chinese temple.
Izunna was happy to be associated with a rich young guy like Chengdu. He saw him as a brother and had always been looking forward to seeing him.
Izunna’s early life spent in poverty always reminded him of the purpose of life, the urge to become successful.
Izunna is homophobic in nature; the thought of being seduced by a guy to engage in sexual intercourse scares him. He didn’t see any form of physical attraction or desire in it but saw it as an act of manipulation to introduce him into their cult of male prostitution and drug business. He saw the act as that which led to the doom of Sodom and Gomorrah; he then moved into deeper sorrow while laying on the floor as he was being raped.
Izunna sees himself to be connected with his father, Muoneke. His father never condoned evil even though his tongue was biting like the edge of a razor.
Izunna shows traits of a good son who advises his father to stop drinking Ngwo(palm wine) and stop eating 404(dog meat) regularly so as to make him concentrate fully on his tailoring job.
Izunna loves his hometown so much; his friends, the squirrel chase, the hunting game, the masquerade chants and the iri ji ohuru (New yam festival). He wasn’t ready to leave all this fun behind but had to for the greater good of his family and town even though he was really scared of travelling abroad for the first time in his life.
Izunna, having heard a lot of ill stories about Chinedu’s business abroad but still waved it off because he knew Chinedu very much to have a strong moral principle while they were together and also wouldn’t want to spoil the happy atmosphere by asking about his business after he accepted to sponsor him in school.
Izunna is outspoken and intelligent, and he is loved by his lecturer and coursemates for his nature. It’s this character that brings about his scholarship from the school. This news was more like another starting point for Izunna after all his tragic experiences.
As the story comes to an end, he is rescued by China and ubom; both plans lead him to Chinedu’s who opens up to Izunna about everything, apologises to him on behalf of his crazy ex-girlfriend Ngozi, gives him his passports and sets him free.
She is popularly known as honey pot.
She is a pretty young lady who has given birth to a daughter named Xiao Hei; she sells her body to men, manipulates them to her favour. She is the leader of the Ama-Igbo gang. She makes the life of Izunna unbearable, forces him to join her evil plans.
She is one of the key persons who made Izunna’s stay in Ama-Igbo unbearable by molesting him, using the intercourse as an edge to hold him captive, threatening to kill or frame him for drugs if he decides to run, Seizing his bag and passport, which will warrant that he stay all day indoors so as not to be caught by Ndi Eke.
She lacks parental responsibility, she is a bad mother who encourages her child to follow her ill footsteps, she uses her daughter Xiao Hei as her stooge to actualise her dreams in China, she also encourages her daughter to partake in cocaine sniffing at a very tender age.
She is always ready to go to any extent to secure the bag, even threatening to kill Izunna if he dared mess their plan up.
She felt wise but was outplayed at Ngozi’s house, where Izunna finally escaped.
A rich man who lives in China, an ex-boyfriend of Ngozi and a lover of the country China. He has a kind heart, as he helped bring Izunna to China through a scholarship fully sponsored by him. At first, he is portrayed as an evil man who wants to make use of Izunna for his works. When the novel comes to an end, it’s seen that all evil was planned by his ex-girlfriend Ngozi, he tries to settle Izunna, begs for his forgiveness and sets him free.
He is Izunna’s close friend who sponsored his admission to the University of Beijing after listening to daily complaints and whining like a hurt child over the phone. He was glad Izunna would be coming to meet him in China, as it would help his company a lot.
Chinedu saved Izunna from further humiliation after he couldn’t secure the KANBAN scholarship years of applying through the Confucius Institute of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka; by giving him a scholarship to study at the famous Renmin University Of China, Beijing.
Odinye uses the character of Chinedu to portray the kind individuals who, after making in in foreign lands, tend to help others too to attain greater heights. He is also an example of a successful young businessman who does decent jobs in Foreign land. At the end of the novel, though, it turns out that Chinedu is killed by Ngozi.
A pimp who loves chinedu and goes to any length to prove her love for him and harms anyone around if she can’t get hold of her lover, just as the case of Izunna, Chinedu’s close friend who was maltreated. She ends up having a hand in the death of her supposed lover Chinedu.
The father of Izunna, a well-known tailor in his village. Husband to Afoma and father of Izunna, He is also a drunkard, he never completes a dress in the given time, but because of his skills and style, he gets his customer. One could call him a Christian too. His brother is Agiriga. At first, he wants his son to travel out, but on getting the visa, he gets cold feet, but later gives his blessing to his son.
A man who never condones evil, he is a good father who rules his household like a god, yet shows great love in caring for them. He was known as a dignified man in his locality who was very good at his tailoring job but had this habitual issue of promise and failed whenever his customers came by to collect their clothes.
Muoneke is a lover of 404 ( dog meat) and Nkwu enu na Ngwo(palm wine); even though his son had tried severally in the past to stop him from it, he still gives him one reason or the other why he couldn’t stop. He would either say he would become frustrated while sewing without it, or his health condition would worsen. He believes it’s his medicine and source of muse to sew. He is a hardworking man who wants to see his son study abroad to make them proud.
The humble and respected wife of Muoneke and mother to Izunna. She is a prayerful woman who never wants her son to travel out but stay back for fear of the unknown, and she also gives in after Izunna gives her his word of never disappointing them.
She always had this premonition of his travelling abroad since his scholarship wasn’t from the Chinese government like other students but from an individual.
A dark-complexioned mean guy who had other people laugh at Izunna for being a “jjc” at Guangzhou
Obiano is a hunger-stricken desperate young man who is seen begging Izunna for a little amount of money to buy mantou.
Obiano became Izunna’s tour guide in Guangzhou city immediately after Izunna offered him some money to buy montou and also provided him with a place to sleep at Ama-Igbo when he got tired of waiting for Chinedu’s return.
Obiano is an overprotective boyfriend to his girlfriend Cynthia, he gets jittery and even becomes very hostile sometimes when people admire her. The urge to make Cynthia his forever turned to an obsession with her. However, it is ironic due to the work Cynthia does as a sex worker.
Obiano can be said to be the person who brought about Izunna’s sufferings in Ama-Igbo by firstly leading him thereafter assuring Izunna that it was a safe place, secondly not telling him how things were being run there so as to make him stay off from everyone, most especially Cynthia and lastly doing nothing when Izunna began facing those trials for someone you call a friend or better still “nwanne”.
Chinedu’s shop attendant. He is a desperate guy who can go to any length to achieve his goals, just as in the case of Chinedu’s relationship with Ngozi. Kpokpo ignited the fire that raised suspicion between Chinedu and Ngozi by letting the cat out of the bag so he could get a favour from Ngozi, which is helping him talk to his boss to lend him 2000 Chinese yuan, which he needed urgently to transfer to his people back home who believes he is living a steady and flamboyant lifestyle in Guangzhou, knowing Chinedu will succumb to her plea, he decided to gain Ngozi’s favour and sympathy by telling her what his boss does whenever she is not around. Even though he got into her head, he still didn’t get what he wanted from her, leaving him devastated.
After the incident with his boss and his girlfriend, he had been culpable for something negative or undesirable in the shoo, blame always came in from different angles, and he didn’t want to be blamed again, which might lead to his sacking, so he had to Kaiser with Izunna not to go immediately but exercise patience with Chinedu.
A short, dark-complexioned guy raped Izunna forcefully after pouring another dose of a liquid substance into Izunna’s mouth with the help of two other guys.
His life later became touched by the hymns Izunna sang the day he raped him, and he repented of his sins. We later find out that he was the one who informed Chinedu where Izunna’s passport and the bag were being hidden and also told him of all Cynthia’s evil plans for Izunna so as to make for his successful escape. He even had to drag his friends to make sure Izunna was safe. He also broke the bad news of Chinedu’s death to Izunna with the advice of him not to come back to Guangzhou “Until the water settles”.
The fair guy
The person who first tried to seduce Izunna then forcefully took over his body after tying him up and injecting him with narcotics to make Izunna helpless.
Daughter of Cynthia (honey pot), a young girl of fifteen
Influenced by her mother and her evil ways, she is used as a stooge to make her mother actualise her ill dreams; she is seen to be a drug addict, having started taking cocaine at a very young age and not minding other peoples view about her, just her mother’s opinion was needed.
One of the guys in Ama-Igbo who with a cheerful face, praised Izunna for associating with Chinedu.
One of the guys at Ama-Igbo who made life unbearable for Izunna there. Hails from Igbo-Ukwu and knows a little about Izunna’s background, having mentioned his father’s name. He had already given up on Nigeria, believing that nothing good can come out of it and also his morals, he is ready to take any paying job no matter how bad it is.
An angry man with a stern look, rounded eyes projected in his narrow face and teeth blackened by tobacco and hard drugs. He threatens Izunna with death into doing their biddings.
Izunna’s lecturer at the University. He is also their tour guide who tries to explain to Izunna the rich and refined heritage of the Chinese people after noticing Izunna’s expression on seeing the carved images in their temple. He also tries to make Izunna see the Chinese people in the real limelight.
He took an interest in Izunna for his outspoken and smart nature. Even though he was the only black person in the class, Prof Ji made him his research assistant on African studies.
He broke the good news to Izunna about his scholarship from his current level till PhD and also his work as a research student.
A lanky dark-complexioned man who is envious of Muoneke’s son’s scholarship. He believes that Muoneke sent his son abroad to do yahoo or carry Ntu(cocaine). His ill spirit almost gets him into a fight with Ukanna, his friend.
Muoneke’s younger brother, whom Ifeoma Odinye characterised to be “everything his elder brother was not. He was too tall for a man and too dark for a woman. He was very calm, not very industrious, and he hated going to the farm. His portions of land we’re always left unploughed between furrows; many of his several portions in the distant field had been divided for ploughing, but non received attention.”
He married three wives, but as his chi would have it, none bore him a child leaving him to huge insults from every point, even his wife.
Agiriga was very proud of Izunna, hoping he would wipe away the shame in their family’s name and prayed to the gods of the land to guide him through his trip.
Amobi’s friends try to clear the ill news of Izunna going abroad to do yahoo or carry Nth(cocaine) brought about by Amobi’s envious nature by questioning him.
Izunna’s friend was very glad to hear about the good news and encouraged, giving him full confidence that they were all behind him.
Ukpana and Ugwumba
Izunna’s well-wishers who were happy and admired izunna’s achievement, though they said nothing to anybody but were both thinkings of the same thing.
Izunna’s coursemate at Renmin University who complimented him for being a good orator and likened him to her African American boyfriend who was a nice person.
Chinedu’s new lover, a degree student of Beijing Foreign Studies, University. She helped Izunna in meeting Chinedu, which led to his successful escape.
Style could be defined as a literary element that describes the ways authors uses words – the author’s words choice,sentence structure, figurative language and sentence arrangement all work together to establish moods, images and meaning in the text.
In this novel “my African China” by Ifeoma Odinye, the author conveys her ideas in a simple word she structure and position it well in such a way that a reader will understood the meaning and ideas or information she is trying to pass across. She also uses exclamation mark in her sentence structure as it is seen almost everywhere in the chapter of the novel.some of the example can be seen in page I and 2 jjc!,this is African!, this is China!,I do not understand! And many more all this are embedded in the work to prove her sentence structure.
She makes use of narrative techniques where she narrated the story of izunna who went in search of greener pasture for his family, in the cause of narration she uses flashback as a literary tools in her work, this is seen in page 91 where izunna was tortured and molested from Cynthia and her group, he remember his father’s advice and warning not to deviate from his Christian faith and virtue, he remember how he is connected to him, the kind of person he is, how he ruled his family with great love and care.
In the aspect of this techniques, she uses foreshadowing as a tool to give a reader mental hint of what izunna is going to encountered in China. It is seen in page 94 where his father after hearing the news of his scholarship was not happy again because he feared what might happened to him and the challenges he is going to face in china, izunna was surprise about his father’s sudden change of mood as he thought that the news will bring happiness rather than sadness, even her mother feel the same way too about his departure to china, his parent has hint of what he is going to face there but their christian faith and hope in God didn’t allowed them to discourage or stops izunna from going to china, they believe that everything is in God control as He is the only person that will save him from any situation or condition he found himself.
Izunna on the other hand feels the same too as he start thinking what might become of him if he reach there, but he didn’t let the fear engulf him or stops him from going rather he decided that whatever he is going to encounter he will face and conquer it as a man.The author uses his parent as a foreshadow tool to give the reader hint of what izunna will encountered. In the cause of this the author uses figurative language which is proverb, it is seen in page 105 where moneke advise his son using proverbs ” what an elder sees sitting down, a child placed on a very high mountain does not have a clear view to actually see and explain certain event” all this give a reader a mental picture of what izunna is going to encountered.
The author uses izunna his protagonist to displayed her mood of sadness,anger,frustration, and determination to succeed in life despite the ugly situation of the country, she uses izunna to create a mental picture in a reader’s mind that determination and having faith in God can leads one to success despite the situation or condition one found his/herself in.
The author makes use of descriptive techniques in her work, the way she describes the country, images, and people in work is alluring as this put a reader in a world of imagination. In her descriptive techniques she uses comparison and contrast to describe cities in china like Beijing in page 32 and 33 which she describes it as full of temple, statue of dragon and lion on different scenic spot, then images and Golden images that can makes a reader to start thinking about the second coming of Christ and the unveiling of the beast that would cause great tribulation upon the earth then it constrast with that Guangzhou which she describe as “a chocolate city crowded with immigrants from Africa and other continent” in page 10, then in page 13 she further describes this city as “china’s center for manufacturing many product”, ” as a china’s power house” she describe the street of this city as littered with “mails”, ” market”,”road- side shop” and “hotels”, she describe that Guangzhou is a safe place to stay for those that enter china through illegal mean,she further say that Guangzho could be called the opposite of the rest of china since it harboured many African migrants in page 14.
She also compares and contrasts their weather by describing Beijing to have ” “harsh weather conditions” which consist of “blistering hot summers” and “cold dry winters” she describes their food as the harsh weather condition resulted in a cooking method like “stir-frying”, “stewing”, “deep frying” the author uses it descibed the cooking method and also the kind of food they cook with this method, food like “totu”,” fish”, “mutton”, “chicken” in Beijing she describes their food as been famous for common condiments such as “dark soy sauces”, ” vinegar”, “bean pastes”,” sugar” she descibes it also as being”aromatic” “forceful flavours of garlic and ginger” in page 25 she compares it with that of Guangzhou in page 76 as their weather is “overtly warm” “humid”, “hot summers”, “tropical ranning season”, “warm chilly winter”, also their food is that “meat with vegetables” and this paint a picture of African weather in the reader’s mind.
In page 15 she uses his protagonist izunna to compare Guangzhou as it is very diverse, foreigners are everywhere, his people is here and he feel at home unlike Beijing where he is the only black person there and there was racial discrimination there.
The author makes use of vernacular words and phrases as it is seen in almost all the pages some of them are “Chai” as seen in page 8 “Nwanne gbapu” in page 7 “Were nke a nwanne”, ” “jide nka” as is seen in page 8, “Agboros” in page 9 and many more all these are explore in the work to give a reader a mental picture of the author’s cultural identity, where the author actually come from, she uses chinese languge in her work to prove the readers that she has the certain knowledge about china and their culture.
Diction can be defined as the choice of words of the writer. The dictionary of work refers to the use of language in that literary piece, which might be simple or complicated. Diction also encompasses the use of forms of language like figurative language etc.
In the work My African-China, Odinye uses a simple language to convert her story to the readers,such that vivid images are portrayed in a rather simple English. According to the setting of the novel, the author employs three languages, English, Chinese and the native igbo language which was spoken in significant situations.
Main language used is the English language, but in some cases there was the use of Chinese as spoken by some native speakers as well as some Nigerian immigrants in the novel.
Odinye, using diction was able to achieve better communication with the reader as well as convey her stories in connection with the setting and story being told.
The makeup and behaviour of fictional characters often depend on their environment quite as much as on their personal characteristics.
Setting is the time and place (or when and where) of a story. It’s a literary element of literature used in novels, short stories, plays, films etc, usually introduced during the exposition (beginning) of the story along with the characters. The setting may also include the environment of the story, which can be made up of the physical location, climate, weather, or social and cultural surroundings. Setting gives context to the characters actions in a storyline. It can also create the mood (how the reader or viewer feels).
It’s easier to understand why the characters in the story are doing what they’re doing when we know where they are, the time of the year, and the ages of the characters will also affect how they act and what they say.
All forms of literature have some form of setting even backdrop setting for example have an age range of the characters which is part of time, and a location either indoors or outdoors. Without a setting, readers and viewers cannot follow a story plot.
African china is a novel written by a Nigerian author Ifeoma Odinye. It was first published in Nigeria in the year 2019 by Nwaike Bookish publishing press, Enugu state, Nigeria. The setting of the novel African china took place in Guangzhou, China, a sprawling port city northwest of Hong Kong on the pearl river. Guangzhou city was popularly known as the chocolate city because of its crowded immigrants from Africa and other continents.
Guangdong a coastal province of southeast china, its capital Guangzhou sits within its industrial pearl river, delta region. Guangdong province in china centres on the manufacturing of many products, it has the largest commercial powerhouse as a trading port. It is a perfect place for trading business. The novel dramatises the complexity of living condition in Guangzhou as an African migrant without legal papers would be better imagined than experienced. African migrants have been known as entrepreneurs, risk takers and resilient strong people. These true scope and struggles of African migrants began in the late 1990s as Chinas’ market reforms boomed. Guangzhou became the marketplace for all goods- a place that would qualify as the best place for market globalisation. The novel follows Izunna Okeke an optimistic intelligent young man whose dream was to travel abroad to make his parents and community proud. With the help of his friend Chinedu a famous influential African businessman who has business scattered everywhere in Guangzhou, he secured admission to the famous Renmin University, Beijing, China. His admission was fully and independently sponsored by Chinedu. The journey to Beijing, china was indeed very long and tiring arriving at Beijing international airport gave Izunna a feeling of joy and happiness ,that type that showed that he had arrived Obodo-oyibo (A foreign land). Arriving at Rennin University School hostel, Izunna noticed one common occurrence -the piercing eyes of Chinese citizens devouring his body with such unique curiosity that caused him great anxiety. He got the expression Ni kan hei ren! (look at this black person) a lot which left Izunna a feeling of dejection and racial disdain. Izunna later gained himself the admiration of all due to the fact that he was very knowledgeable.
Chinedu invited Izunna to GuangZhou. on arriving Guangzhou it was like a street swarming with chocolate bodies it was very different from Beijing. African guys hanging out in the street like agboros in Onitsha motor parks left a feeling of home. Arriving Guangzhou Izunna thought he would start implementing his plan immediately but his pessimism became too deep to dislodge since he saw real guys begging for daily bread with deadly anger to survive. Arriving at Chinedu shop he met the shop attendant who informed him that his Oga was not around after waiting for long hours he left angrily to Lui Shan restaurant.
The restaurant was noted for its excellent cuisine, and it was considered one of Guangzhou cheap, refined, and elegant styles of cooking Chinese and African food. Lui Shan restaurant like other restaurants in Guangzhou had adopted influences into their cuisine having more refined food that satisfy the taste and appetite of many unsuspecting foreigners. Izunna really enjoyed his dinner his anger of waiting for so long hours had subsided after eating the sumptuous meal. He couldn’t meet Chinedu that day but ended up meeting Okechukwu, Obaino, and other black men who lived in Ama-Igbo in Guangzhou, working errands for rich Igbo men in return for free accommodation.
The occupants of Ama-Igbo were Africans, mainly Igbo guys who had been drawn to Guangzhou by business opportunities. Ama Igbo, according to Odinye, was also called the chocolate enclave, African jungle because it was mainly a cultural or social entity that Africans entirely surrounded. Ama Igbo ( habitation of Igbo people )was china’s largest African population.
Izunna arrived at Guangzhou to see his good friend but ended meeting Cynthia, who was popularly known as honey pot, a good looking woman who was always out in the streets looking for jobs at odd hours, a professional in her act of seducing men for pleasure and profit. She was famous for dating strangers who came for one business or the other. She has a fifteen years old daughter called Xiao Hei. Izunna ended up being threatened with a gun to do her bidding, forced into ruinous escapades, and emotional accidents became the cord that manipulated Izunna life in Guangzhou. Izunna became a victim of injustice, exploitation, molestation and corruption in the hands of Cynthia but was recused by Chika, Ubom and Chinedu. Chinedu was later killed at his girlfriend Ngozi house.
CONFLICTS AND RESOLUTION OF ODINYE’S “MY AFRICAN-CHINA”
It is essential to most stories because it is what brings in the suspense of a story and keeps the readers yearning for more details.
The overall message of ODINYE’S work is embedded in the conflicts clearly.
IZUNNA’S INTERNAL STRUGGLES.
The protagonist is caught in an internal struggle that affects his entire life. A mind struggle with where he comes from and where he is going to. Izu and his father want him to achieve the big dream, but he is crippled by the background he comes from; his father, as a local tailor, could not afford to provide him with the opportunities he needs. The man could barely save money to provide for the family’s needs due to his habit of eating dog meat and drinking local drinks.
When he receives his visa and scholarship particulars from Chinedu, a dilemma arises. He is torn between leaving or staying. His mother’s worries do not help either.
TRIALS AT AMA-IGBO, GUANGZHOU (THE AFRICA IN CHINA)
The conflict that scars Izunna for life unfolds after he follows Obiano, a complete stranger to a neighbourhood known as Ama-Igbo.
The lead woman in a drug dealer gang, Cynthia, is the bait that lures Izunna to his new grave. He becomes trapped and is forcefully initiated into a male prostitute cult; after they had their way with him. Izunna’s hope of making it in China seems to be put on hold.
He is given a share of his African-China, Ama-Igbo.
The book’s resolution is received with missed feelings; it comes with a slice of sadness and a slice of joy.
Izu is saved just ask be was about to experience his first operation with the group in Ngozi’s house. He meets Chika, Chinedu’s new girlfriend, at the unusual party. During their discussion, she discovers that Izuu is the guy Chinedu was searching for.
The next event that follows ensures Izunna skipped town on a train to Beijing that very night. Upon his arrival, he receives two messages on his phone. One from his Professor at Renmin University of China and the other from Upon, a guy who had been touched by Izuu’s action on the night of the initiation.
He had been awarded a double scholarship and his previous fees would be returned. He is informed of Chinedu’s demise and warned to never return to Guangzhou by Ubom.
POINT OF VIEW
Point of view is the perspective or eye through which a writer sees and narrates a story to his audience or readers..we have three types of point of view;the first person point of view inwhich the writer uses the pronoun “I”..as he is in the story. We also have the second person point of view in which the writer uses pronouns like “you” to refer to Characters.the third point of view is the Omniscient or third person point of view.Here the writer sees the heart content of every character in his work..Ifeoma Odinye uses the Omniscient point of view in her story,The African-China…she speaks from the mouth of a superior being who sees all things…
In the novel, there are different forms of indirect comparison using “as” or “like” examples- shivering like a child (chapter 1, pg 11)
Looking like one carried out of himself (chapter 2 pg16)
Spat out like a pregnant woman (chapter 3 pg30)
Stop behaving as if you are a child (chapter 4 pg35)
Those guys spoke harshly like people who soaked overnight in strong alcoholic beverages. (chapter 6 pg 60)
Cynthia’s face remained as unpredictable as the weather (chapter 6 pg66)
..Interpreting the situation that had tied Izunna like chord (chapter6 pg 68)
He was devasted and felt like one who had been forcefully castrated (chapter6 pg 70)
Like a vulture hacking into the carcass of a dead person, the fair guy hit Izunna’s head (chapter 8 pg 78)
……..Until his body stood hard like a rock (chapter8 pg78), He (Agiriga) is a woman like us (chapter 10 pg 101)
He (Izunna) felt like a baby who had been forcefully stopped from sucking the mother’s breasts (chapter12 pg116)
The writer also uses exaggeration to drive home her point. Example
Regardless of the sea of foreigners that visited for tourism (Chapter 2
This is a brief reference to an important person, a place, an event or popular phrase, line or says from the Bible.
This device can be found in the novel, like in chapter 6 pg62, during the protest, Cynthia and Izunna said
which way Nigeria? Which is an allusion to the line of the popular song sung by Sonny Okosun. Also, in the same chapter 6 pg 67, Izunna was heard saying, ” uphold me and welcome me unto remembrance like a prodigal” this is an allusion to the Prodigal son in the Bible. There is also so many references to the Anglican hymns chapter 3 pg 29, (Hymn 236), chapter 8 pg82 (Hymn 006), chapter 10 pg106 (Anglican hymn 308). In chapter 11, pg111, Ukanna asked Amobi, “Did I pluck the fruit from your forbidden tree?” Which is an allusion to the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible. “Thou shalt not make for yourself a golden image”, an allusion to one of Moses’ Ten Commandments in the Bible. (Chapter3 pg32)
“What a world of Sodom and Gomorrah”, a reference to Bible (chapter 8 pg 79)
Personification: This is the figure of speech that gives the features of a human to inanimate objects. This is seen in the following places:
… life had treated them badly (chapter 1 pg 9)
…chilly wind that did him no good. (chapter 1 pg11)
…any obstacle to strip him his most intimate secret (chapter 3 pg31)
….and starvation that had been crippling the Nigerian society (chapter 4 pg43)
Money, fame and freedom rained like water (chapter 4 pg 40)
Silence enveloped them in a suffocating embrace with no hope of releasing its tight grip (chapter 5 pg48)
Interpreting the situation that has tied Izunna like a chord. (Chapter 6 pg68) But fate dealt him a sharp blow (chapter 7 pg 73).
It canvasses the similarity between two things by insisting that one thing is another. The comparison is usually implied. The author employed this device in You “little tortoise” (chapter 9 pg 88)….
Men with children’s hearts. (Chapter 6 pg59)
……… men wrapped with women’s emotional countenance(Chapter 6 pg59)
This figure of speech places two opposing words side by side. This is seen in chapter 15, pg 142:
“Cynthia might be evil, but eating her food is a necessary evil.”
The author also made use of this tool to take our minds back to the events that happened in the past. This occurs in: (chapter 2 pg18-23) A flashback to what happened between Kpokpo and Ngozi, Chinedu’s girlfriend.
There is also a flashback in (chapter3 pg 26-31) where Izunna remembers his tourism experience in the temple. Here the author used this medium to tell us Izunna’s experience in Beijing.
There is also another flashback in (chapters 9-15, pg 91-140). The author takes us back to Izunna’s experience in the village down to his journey to Beijing than his ordeal visit to Guangzhou which led to his present torture.
Other literary devices employed are Irony in chapter 5 pg47, Izunna said that girls and ladies are created for pleasure- viewing and doing pleasure. The Irony of the situation turned out to be that instead of Cynthia being used for pleasure, he (Izunna) ended up being the one that was manipulated.
Another one is onomatopoeia, the word Tuwasaii, an onomatopoeic word for greeting or showing gratitude.
Brief Biography Of Ifeoma Odinye
Ifeoma Odinye is a senior lecturer in the English language and literature department, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria. She studied at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria; Renmin University of China; and Xiamen University, China. Her published works include: At Sunset( A collection of poems) and Pain in the Neck (A novel). Odinye’s works have also appeared in other academic journals. She is happily married with children.