Regimes of Waste: Aesthetics, Politics, and Waste from Kofi Awoonor and Ayi Kwei Armah to Chimamanda Adichie and Zeze Gamboa

This essay argues that waste—as a symbol, a trope, and a material condition—permits us to reimagine the link between post-independence novels of disillusionment and contemporary works preoccupied with the tenuousness of national prosperity and identity. From Kofi Awoonor’s This Earth, My Brother (1971) and Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968) to Chimamanda Adichie’s Half a Yellow Sun (2006) and Zeze Gamboa’s recent film O Heroi (2004), waste is not merely an aesthetic oddity joining together these selected texts. Transforming literary representations of waste reflect a revaluation of our received notions of nationhood, the distribution of wealth and value in society, the aims of political liberation, and the legitimate means of political engagement. I argue that waste has become an ambiguous symbol of both the uncertainty resulting from national and social disintegration and the possibility of forming renewed social bonds.

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Publication Type Journal
Publisher Research in African Literatures, Indiana University Press
Year 2013
Author(s) Connor Ryan
Other Numbers Vol. 44, No. 4
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