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CONFLICT AND IDENTITY CRISIS IN ALEX AGEYI’S UNEXPECTED JOY AT DAWN

CONFLICT AND IDENTITY CRISIS IN ALEX AGEYI’S UNEXPECTED JOY AT DAWN

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Abstract

The study seeks to explore conflict and identity crisis in Alex Ageyi’s Unexpected Joy at Dawn. Literary writers at home and in the diaspora have been reacting to the rate at which Africans are leaving the continent for a living in Europe, America and Asian countries. This article, therefore discusses the trials and ordeals of African migrants as portrayed in Alex Ageyi’s Unexpected Joy at Dawn.

As the migrants try to make out a meaning from their broken lives and psyches, they become traumatized and disoriented as a result of the environment they find themselves. Using Erikson theory as its theoretical bases for analysis, the Alex Ageyi’s Unexpected Joy at Dawn which revealed that the dehumanization of migrants has left them confused and in a state of dementia; revealing that migration has brought them more trauma of who they really are than the better life they envisaged.

It was also recommended that good foreign policy should be made by government to favour immigrants in other countries, a by-lateral treaty or memorandum of understanding should be signed between Nigeria and other African countries for the protection of Nigerian citizens and lastly government should sensitize the citizen on the need to shun illegal migration because of the dangers in it because thousands have died in the quest while thousands are imprisoned in another country.

 

CONFLICT AND IDENTITY CRISIS IN ALEX AGEYI’S UNEXPECTED JOY AT DAWN

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

Literature can be a necessary tool of conciliation, of search for solutions to crises. Thus, many African writers among which we can quote Ngugi will give voice through their writings to stigmatize the different crises (Cultural crisis, economical crisis and African identity in colonial and postcolonial times) in their living environment, the African continent. Ngugi has then dealt with the crises in Africa and mainly in Kenya, their causes and also possible solutions for the African people.

Through the texts that address this question of crisis in his different books, the Kenyan author identifies and criticizes everything that participates to the crisis. So, the critics try to know how through writing the Kenyan writer comes to stigmatize the crisis. How does the crisis that seems to take part in the real space is invited in the literary text? What are the textual tools used to represent the above mentioned crises.

An issue that often comes up in literature is the search for identity, especially among Africans who find themselves in foreign countries with a different culture and worldviews. These Africans usually feel lost, humiliated or not fully accepted in their foreign environment. In most cases these Africans are trained in systems dominated by European culture.

But as A.N. Nwachukwu in Africans and Identity says; “the African’s concern is not with an inner voyage of discovery of a self, his concern is his public role, not his private self. The African asks always, not “Who am I?” but, “Who are we?” His problem is not his own but his people” (69).

Basically, the problem of identity always pops up as a result of migration. Patrick Henry in Migration and Literary Identity says that “migration may have collapsed the barrier between time and space but it has also raised the question of who a person really is” (112). Thus, the migrating author in Diaspora, says Patrick, has been rejected and alienated by that singular action of migration, both at home and abroad.

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They have been seen as too foreign, not even deserving of being called Africans by their home contemporaries while they are still seen as foreigners in the land of residence (113). Quoting Dike Omeje, a performance poet, Patrick writes: “We have been denied of citizenship and identity by our contemporaries at home; the same way we are being denied by those abroad’ (115). Hence, most of these writers create characters in the same state similar to their own.

CONFLICT AND IDENTITY CRISIS IN ALEX AGEYI’S UNEXPECTED JOY AT DAWN

Further, Patrick says that a progressive examination of African literature reveals that after the arrival of the Europeans on African shores in the sixteenth century, slave trade boomed and literature became one of the ways of retaining whatever identity the slaves may have. As literature is still in its oral form, the slaves share their stories as they move from one location to the other.

A slave’s fear is that he may never return to tell where he was taken and the telling of his story to the people he meets on his way is to mark his path to the unknown and make his transition to the spirit world safer as orality remains the main vehicle to commune with the spirit world (118)

On 17thJanuary, alhaji baba, the then Nigerian federal minister of internal affairs, in a television broadcast, ordered all unskilled foreigners residing and working illegally to leave the country by 31st January 1983. For the aliens, they were allowed to stay up to 28th of February, 1983.

The minister added that from 31st January 1983. Security agents would inspect commercial and industrial establishments as well as households, to identify defaulting aliens, and that those found contravening (offend against the prohibition or order of law, treaty, or code of conduct). The order would be repatriated (return to one’s own country) and their names put on a stop list to ensure that they did not return to Nigeria.

During the 1983 deportation of Ghanaians from Nigeria under the shehu Shagari administration Nii and Mama orojo two siblings experienced this. Nii who was a Nigerian by blood, but a Ghanaian by birth was left in Ghana by her parents as they embarked on a complicated journey to Nigeria when Ghana enacted the aliens’ compliance order of 1967 which made every individual who were inhabitant of Ghana without the required papers completely an alien.

Identity crisis is a term which is coined by the theorist Erikson and it refers to the self-analysis that is conducted by a person about himself and also about the perception of himself. This is a theme which has been explored by various novelists at different points of time in world literature.

Identity involves the experiences, relationships, beliefs, values and memories that make up a person’s subjective sense of self. Many researchers and scholars have used the term “identity crisis and tried to define and explain it differently. Some refer to it as a strange theory of identity development. Identity crisis has a long history. It represents, a period of uncertainty and confusion where a person’s sense of identity becomes insecure and unstable.

Conflict is a struggle and a class of interest, opinion, or even principles. Conflict will always be found in the society, as the basis of conflict may vary to be personal, racial, class, caste, political and international. Conflict may also be emotional, intellectual, and theoretical. In conflict theory: karl max developed the conflict theory, it holds that social order is maintained by domination and power, rather than by consensus and conformity.

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Those with wealth and power try to hold on to it by any means possible, chiefly by suppressing the poor and powerless. Conflicts exist whenever incompatible activities occur. Conflict is the competition between interdependent parties who perceive that they have incompatible needs, goals, desires and ideas.

The novel dramatises the problematics of the Nigeria-Ghana relations over the years and the implications that the relationship has had on the individual citizens in the two West African countries. The background to the novel is seen in the distortion of the Pan-Africanist vision of Kwame Nkrumah and other African thinkers who believed that Africa would only grow if her peoples were united in brotherly love, working together to liberate themselves politically and economically from colonialist chains.

The fostering of colonial boundaries through negative nationalist ideologies that are inimical to the growth of Africa as depicted in the novel is detrimental to the pan-Africanist ideals just outlined.

 Nigerians were expelled from Ghana in 1969 by the Kofi Abrefa Busia administration because there was a general mis/conception that the presence of Nigerians deprived Ghanaians of employment and other economic opportunities.

In 1983, Nigeria returned the favour when the civilian government of Shehu Shagari signed an executive order that saw to the deportation of over 3 million Ghanaians from Nigeria. Agyei-Agyiri in Unexpected Joy at Dawn recounts the human cost of such political decisions in personal and existential terms. It is therefore on this on this background that this work seeks to examine conflict and identity crisis in Alex Agyei Agyiri’s Unexpected Joy at Dawn.

CONFLICT AND IDENTITY CRISIS IN ALEX AGEYI’S UNEXPECTED JOY AT DAWN

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Over the years, conflict and identity crisis has been major change that loam African societies this has been a great challenges to peace, stability, oneness, security, freedom and joy among themselves. These happened as a result of challenges African encountered which affected their socio – economic, social state of being, imposition, irregularity, derivation, distributive, injective and less regards.

These unsatisfactory acts or attitude had compelled Africans to voice their way out. As a result of this, conflict and identity crisis came up, a gun alternatively used to shot out the unbearable and unpleasant agent of satisfaction [colonizers].The problem of this study is therefore to investigate the effect or influence of the European on Africans as well as looking at the scenes of the African society to bring out what is inevitable in African history of protest and conflict.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to examine conflict and identity crisis in Alex Agyei Agyiri’s Unexpected Joy at Dawn. However the specific objectives of this study are as follows:

  1. examine the level of trauma faced by Nigerians who stays in Ghana
  2. explore the cause of conflict in Alex Agyei Agyiri’s Unexpected Joy at Dawn.
  3. examine the effect of identity crises in Alex Agyei Agyiri’s Unexpected Joy at Dawn.
  4. Portray how this mayhem has cause disunity and lack of harmony between the two African countries (Nigeria and Ghana) in Alex Agyei Agyiri’s Unexpected Joy at Dawn.
  5. Proffer solution a solution to crises between the two African countries

1.4 Significance of the Study

This research critically examines the ordeals of African migrants in the West, their struggle for survival and the trumatic scars of such struggles on their psyche as found in the selected in Alex Agyei Agyiri’s Unexpected Joy at Dawn. The study will serve as reference material for future researchers on related subject. Above all, the study hopes to contribute to the existing body of knowledge and scholarship on migration. The study also will be of immense benefit to educators, societies and other researchers in the following ways;

  1. Helps the reader to protect their culture and tradition not to condemn it in totality.
  2. The study will also highlight the place of African culture in the society and its significance to its people.
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III. It will also help other researchers and Literature students to solve some of the problems which emanated after independence such as; political crises, Religious crises, cultural crises among others.

1.5 Research Methodology

The Study will be mainly library based research. The text chosen as a case study will be used as a primary source of information, while other information from the internet, published and unpublished articles, journals, copies of earlier project from the library and other related resources will be used and examined as the secondary.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

This Research study is concerned with the conflict and identity crisis in Alex Agyei Agyiri’s Unexpected Joy at Dawn. It focuses on the nature of trauma, conflict and identity crises in the text under study

CONFLICT AND IDENTITY CRISIS IN ALEX AGEYI’S UNEXPECTED JOY AT DAWN

1.7 Theoretical Framework

The theoretical model adopted as theoretical frameworks for this study is the Eric Erikson Ego Identity theory. The psycho-historian Eric Erikson in his Construct of Ego Identity says: “identity is a process located in the core of the individual; and yet also in the core of his or her communal culture, hence making a connection between community and individual” (156).

He has developed the term “identity crisis” during the Second World War in reference to patients who has lost a sense of personal sameness and historical continuity (basically confused by the identity they have assumed and the one the war was forcing on them) and subsequently generalizes it to a whole stage of life (as part of his epigenetic life-stage model of the eight life stages of man). Here, Berger in Invitation to Sociology says: “Youth is identified as a universal crisis period of potential identity (157).

Basically, the problem of identity always pops up as a result of migration. Patrick Henry in Migration and Literary Identity says that “migration may have collapsed the barrier between time and space but it has also raised the question of who a person really is” (112). Thus, the migrating author in Diaspora, says Patrick, has been rejected and alienated by that singular action of migration, both at home and abroad.

They have been seen as too foreign, not even deserving of being called Africans by their home contemporaries while they are still seen as foreigners in the land of residence (113). Quoting Dike Omeje, a performance poet, Patrick writes: “We have been denied of citizenship and identity by our contemporaries at home; the same way we are being denied by those abroad’ (115). Hence, most of these writers create characters in the same state similar to their own. The diasporic realities, therefore, shall constitute the external stressors which forms part of the concerns of this study.

Mr. Harrison

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