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Nationalism and African Communal Identity in Marguerite Abouet’s and Clement Oubrerie’s Aya de Yopougon

Abstract

Nationalism has become a contested construct because scholars doubt its ideological authenticity and global migratory consciousness, which promotes transcultural / transnational identity, and problematizes its raison d’être. Though Abouet and Oubrerie’s graphic novel could be read as a portrayal of the emerging urban center and its postmodern identities, this study rather investigates how Aya de Yopougon galvanizes juvenile nationalistic consciousness through age-long African communal identity. Using the postcolonial theory, the paper argues that the epistemology of nationalism, as a forerunner of nationhood, has been inherently encapsulated in African communal identity as manifested in the lives of middle-class dwellers of Yopougon, a suburb of Abidjan. It further deconstructs the symbolic Eurocentric paradigms of nationalism because nationalistic consciousness is located in the African definition of “family” and “community” revealed in the setting of Yopougon which contrasts with other spaces that bear the emblem of nationhood in the novel. Yopougon is not Anderson’s “imagined community”; its inhabitants reflect African communal identity that is located in gender complementarities and civic interdependence. The paper concludes that communalism could be an African brand of modern nationalism, used to develop the nationalistic and communalistic consciousness of the Ivorian youths who are faced with crude realities of a postcolonial society.

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