Betwixt and Between: Negotiating Parental Abandonment and Family Life in Sade Adeniran’s Imagine This

Yunusy Castory Ng’umbi


Using African feminist and post-colonial theories, this paper examines the representation of the institution of family in Sade Adeniran’s Imagine This, in order to explore the character’s creation of a third space – one that is ambivalent and traumatic – in her context of divorce and family abandonment. As depicted in the narrative, a major reason behind such family tragedies is an overlap between patriarchy and the postcolonial state. Thus, through the protagonist’s troubled identity and traumatic experience due to her family’s dynamics, the narrative questions the role of a child in reconnecting fragmented family bonds. This heroine’s traumatised hatred of her culture and of the institution of motherhood raises questions about the future of African feminism. If this ideology marginalises culture and renders motherhood as an institution no longer centrally important to contemporary African women, then it requires critical engagement. I explore how the literary genre inspired by African feminism enters established socio-cultural spaces critically and interrogates family dynamics ruthlessly. And I query whether it offers any solutions to the dilemmas of women that are uncovered and illuminated thereby. I will argue that the child protagonist in this narrative is presented not merely as a victim of circumstance – existing as she does betwixt and between family identities that are simultaneously familiar and strange – she is also depicted as attempting valiantly to reconnect the fragmented family bonds.


Keywords: African feminism, Sade Adeniran, betwixt and between, divorce, family

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