Americanah encourages its South African readers to reflect on race, identity and culture, and to think more deeply about the history and geography of their separate and joint existences.
Americanah was introduced as a setwork in a number of schools this year. It is a timely novel that has been instrumental in getting readers to talk about emerging themes such as racism in American culture, hair politics, identity and what it means to be human. All these themes are currently relevant to South Africa. As recent political discussions – including conversations on Twitter and Facebook – indicate, young people in South Africa are speaking out about identity and the symbolic nature of hair politics, and about the racism that continues to be manifest in many forms across our country, including in our schools.
This session is relevant to teachers and learners who have studied the novel. It is also relevant to those who would like to hear about the experience of having the novel taught in class, with the hope that they will be persuaded to consider the text in future. The session is also for parents and teenagers who are looking for books that can inspire family conversations about important topical issues in South Africa and the rest of the world..
The discussion will be facilitated by Athambile Masola, a writer and blogger who has experience of teaching literature in high schools. Her current research examines at the writing of black women; and considers how this can be made visible in our public discourse, including in our schools.