Of Languages and Borders: Chinua Achebe and Nuruddin Farah

Open Access
Abukar, Ilyas Omar
Area of Honors:
Comparative Literature
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Alexander C Y Huang, Thesis Supervisor
  • Sydney Sue Aboul Hosn, Honors Advisor
  • language
  • achebe
  • farah
  • nuruddin
  • texts
  • obi
  • askar
  • literature
As African writers working in the postcolonial period, Nigeria's Chinua Achebe and Somalia's Nuruddin Farah engage the colonial legacy in their novels. However, Somali and Nigeria experienced two different colonialisms embedded in each country’s unique history. In the fiction of the African novel, making sense of issues of personal identity and greater national culture after colonial intervention is central. Farah’s protagonist Askar grows up to understand how his Somali ethnic identity is constructed around and maintained by the singular Somali language spoken in different neighboring territories. Meanwhile, Achebe’s protagonist Obi Okonkwo, via diglossia, manipulates language to affirm his identity as an ethnic Igbo. Both writers point towards investigating the way language and border attach themselves to each other as ethnic markers in the post-colony to define personal and cultural identity.