This paper takes Charles Piot’s theory of Togo and applies it to two examples of Nigerian Literature. Piot’s book, Nostalgia for the Future discusses “fantasies of exile,” and refigurations of temporality and space which is applied to his study and experience in Togo. In this paper, I use these ideas in Graceland’s character, Elvis and The Secret Lives of the Four Wives’ Bolanle to show how literature makes this theory of a country specific to individual identities. While hybridizations characterize the Togolese culture and politics, it also characterizes the individual characters in Nigerian literature. Both Elvis and Bolanle experience a traumatic break, which then disrupts their identity and encourages a ‘fantasy of exile.’ These characters reject the past as a way of moving toward a new future. While at first Bolanle rejects her past education for a more traditional future, she ends up moving in the same direction as Elvis – towards an unknown yet desirable future. However, there is a gap between a known, rejected past and an unknown, desired future. There is also the desire to erase the past, which Piot describes as noncontinuous temporality, as a means to mend this gap to get to the future. The question that I examine then is, can one have a future that erases the past? Furthermore, the idea of ‘re-temporalizations’ is displayed in both works, showing the change in space. As Piot describes it, “the distant is now proximate in ways that it never was before, and the proximate seems distant” (164). The ideas of the global and modern now seem easily attainable while the local and traditional seem more distant. In essence, this paper looks at these characters as those who do not feel at home in the world; they do not have a place where they fit; they are ‘others’ that Piot refers to as having nostalgia not for the past but for a future that they themselves are unsure of.

 

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About karadim

I am a first year graduate student at American University's MA Literature program.

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